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Dresses and debates: Our top stories of 2015

CNBC.com's top stories of 2015

Jakubzak | Getty Images

When a website publishes thousands of stories a year, it takes something really special to rise to the top.

Sometimes it's a really important market day ... sometimes it's a stunning news development ... and sometimes it's just plain silly.

These are CNBC.com's top 10 stories of 2015, as measured by unique visitors from Jan. 1 through the morning of Dec. 28.

— By CNBC.com staff
Published 29 Dec. 2015

10. 'The Dirty Dozen'

Source: Michael Dorausch

The adult entertainment industry is one of the most lucrative businesses in America, but no one likes to talk about it very much.

That makes CNBC's annual "Dirty Dozen" list of the industry's top stars stand out.

The 2016 edition of the list will be out in a couple of weeks.

Read "The Dirty Dozen."

9. Markets — Friday, Aug. 21

Trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Getty Images

Major averages ended their worst week in four years with a collapse on Aug. 21 that pushed the Dow into correction territory.

Of course, it was just a sign of what was yet to come. Markets also had a historic plunge the following Monday.

Read the Aug. 21 market story.

8. NYSE goes down

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

The Big Board is a symbol of American high finance. Tourists from around the world flock to the Wall Street neighborhood in lower Manhattan to take a picture with the iconic bull.

That made the early July glitch that took the NYSE down entirely that much scarier. Was something sinister at play? Was America under attack? (No, as it turned out.)

Read about the glitch.

7. Tianjin, China explosion

ChinaFotoPress | ChinaFotoPress | Getty Images

A massive explosion in the Chinese city of Tianjin in August killed dozens.

Most people didn't know where Tianjin was until social media lit up with shock images of the blast.

Read our blast coverage.

6. The GOP debate

David A. Grogan | CNBC

The late October CNBC debate among the Republican presidential candidates generated lots of fireworks.

Readers stuck with a blow-by-blow live blog to the very end, and even into the next morning.

Read the blog here.

5. Unboiling an egg

Veronique Beranger | Getty Images

When you boil an egg, there's not much more you can do aside from eat it, right?

Wrong. Scientists figured out a way to pull apart the tangled proteins in a cooked egg white, and the implications are huge.

Read all about the unboiled egg.

4. Debate winners and losers

Republican candidates Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and Ben Carson.
David A. Grogan | CNBC

There was only one thing about the CNBC debate that readers cared about more than the blow-by-blow ...

... they really, really wanted to know who won. So much so, in fact, that our winners-and-losers recap was a top story for days afterward.

Read the recap here.

3. Starbucks' red cup

A woman drinks Starbucks coffee in a red cup as people on social media are responding to criticism that Starbucks is waging a war on Christmas with its plain red holiday cup in New York.
Cem Ozdel | Andalu Agency Getty Images

Sometimes a red cup is just a red cup. Other times, it is a huge source of controversy.

Starbucks' annual holiday cup became a flashpoint in the "War on Christmas" debate in 2015.

Read our cup coverage

2. The Dress

swiked.tumblr.com

Once upon a time, there was a striped dress, and for reasons still not clear to science, the Internet lost its mind accordingly.

"The Dress" was so controversial, that even stories about stories about the dress were hugely popular.

Read the story behind the dress.

1. The millionaire janitor

Ron Read
Source: Fitts, Olson & Giddings

Sometimes, people assume that those working quiet jobs in quiet places don't have much going for them.

Ron Read was different.

The Vermont gas station attendant and janitor lived a simple life, but he was keen on reading the financial newspapers.

No one expected that when he died, he'd have an $8 million fortune to leave the local library and hospital.

Read's tale was far and away our most read story of 2015 — in fact, it had about 50 percent more readers than the next story on the list.

Read all about the millionaire janitor.