It’s the month that comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb and that begins by celebrating humor and good fun. Here is a little April Fool’s day background and a few pranks done through the years (none by me!)
“April Fools’ Day is celebrated in the Western world on the 1st of April of every year. Sometimes referred to as All Fools’ Day, 1st April is not a legal holiday, but is widely recognized and celebrated as a day which tolerates practical jokes and general foolishness. The day is marked by the commission of good humored or funny jokes, hoaxes and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, family members, teachers, neighbors, work associates, etc. The earliest recorded association between 1st April and foolishness can be found in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392).”
- Swiss spaghetti harvest: In 1957, the BBC aired a serious-sounding report on Switzerland’s bumper crop of pasta; hundreds fell for it and wanted to grow their own.
- Sidd Finch: In 1985, George Plimpton dreamed up a “part yogi” pitcher who could throw a 168mph fastball, then featured him in Sports Illustrated.
- Alabama changes Pi: A 1998 article claimed the state legislature changed the value from 3.14 to 3, because its “traditional Biblical value” is 3.
- National Public Radio: Every year National Public Radio in the United States does an extensive news story on April 1. These usually start off more or less reasonably, and get more and more unusual. A recent example is the story on the “iBod,” a portable body control device. In 2008 it reported that the IRS, to assure rebate checks were actually spent, was shipping consumer products instead of checks. It also runs false sponsor mentions, such as “Support for NPR comes from the Soylent Corporation, manufacturing protein-rich food products in a variety of colors. Soylent Green is People”.
- The Whopper for lefties: Burger King announced in 1998 it was releasing left-handed Whoppers—the same sandwich, with the condiments rotated 180 degrees.
- MentalPlex: Google’s first annual hoax, in 2000, claimed to let users telepathically project searches instead of typing them in.
- Thomas Edison’s food machine: A New York paper ran an article in 1878 claiming the inventor made a machine to turn dirt into cereal, among other things.
- San Seriffe island: In 1977, the Guardian created a fictional island with a name inspired by the typography term “sans serif”; it still occasionally appears in the paper.
- Comic strip switch: Forty-six artists participated in the Comic Strip Switcheroo in 1997, with characters mixing it up in strips not belonging to them and creators trading strips for the day.
- Digital Big Ben: In 1980, the BBC told listeners Big Ben’s analog face would be replaced with a digital one; many were outraged.
- Alex Trebek and Pat Sajak: The game show hosts switched places on Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy for a day in 1997.
- Taco Bell and the Liberty Bell: The fast food giant put out an ad in seven newspapers in 1996, claiming it would be buying the historical relic and renaming it the “Taco Liberty Bell.”
- Apple buys the Beatles: Bob Lefsetz released an April Fools’ Day letter which had rumours circulating around the music industry.
- In 1983, Australian millionaire businessman Dick Smith claimed to have towed an iceberg from Antarctica to Sydney Harbour. He used a barge covered with white plastic and fire extinguisher foam to convince witnesses.