Think of April, and the one thing that pops into our heads is… APRIL FOOL’S DAY!
April 1st has gone down in history as a day of insanity. April Fools’ Day gives misfits, pranksters, and even the media, an excuse to pull some strings and make people’s brows furrow. Although I’m not quite sure why it’s called April Fool’s (why not May Fool’s?) Day, the tradition – with unknown roots – has been observed by several cultures for millennia. Playing practical pranks or hoaxes on others is a common April Fools’ Day custom, with the phrase “April Fool’s!” being yelled at the end to reveal that what happened was in fact a prank.
Some historians believe April Fool’s Day began in 1582, when France moved from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, while others believe it began with Hilaria, an ancient Roman holiday. According to some, it’s been linked to the vernal equinox, or the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Whatever history says, I’m pretty sure these guys had a pretty good laugh pulling pranks. Speaking of history, did you know that there were April Fool’s Day pranks that have became legendary? Didn’t know this myself! But if THEY can laugh about it, I’m pretty sure we can too. Here’s a list of the greatest pranks in history:
1. Spaghetti On Tree (1957)
The British have definitely come up with some of the most iconic April Fool’s Day jokes in history. The BBC aired a segment on April 1, 1957, showing a Swiss farming family harvesting long strands of pasta from their spaghetti trees. Spaghetti was still an exotic dish with mystery roots in England at the time, so many viewers fell for the report hook, line and sinker. Some even called in to inquire how they might plant their own spaghetti trees. So the BBC simply said “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best”…. LOL!
This British hoax, according to the curator of the Museum of Hoaxes, is the best of all time because it illustrates how easily people can be duped, yet in a relatively harmless way.
2. Television And Pantyhose (1962)
Swedish TV, the state-run television channel, still only broadcasted in black and white in 1962. So, on April 1, 1962, a purported technical expert for Sweden’s one and only television channel made an excited statement about a novel way to make television appear in colour without requiring any hardware upgrades (how cool is that?) Viewers could watch the typical black-and-white show in beautiful colour by stretching out a pair of nylon stockings and taping it over their screens, he claimed. Owners of televisions hurried to put the seemingly simple hack into action, only to be disappointed when the hose did nothing but obstruct the screen. I mean, are they that dumb? Four years later, Swedish television began transmitting in colour.
3. The Loch Ness Monster Surfaces (1972)
A widely circulated photograph convinced many that Loch Ness‘ elusive resident had finally made an appearance— sadly, dead rather than alive — on April Fool’s Day in 1972. Turns out, the body of a bull elephant seal had been placed in the lake by a prankster from Yorkshire’s Flamingo Park Zoo. He had intended to pull a prank on his employees, but the “news” soon spread all over the internet (at least he became famous!)
4. Richard Nixon Makes A Comeback (1992)
Running for president once more? On April 1, 1992, National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation” programme aired the disgraced lawmaker purportedly saying “I never did anything illegal, and I won’t do it again,”. The station revealed that the announcement was a prank when irate listeners called in to express their displeasure. Nixon was played by comedian Rich Little, who is noted for his dead-on impersonation of the 37th president.
5. Left Handed Burgers (1998)
Back in 1998, Burger King debuted a new menu designed particularly for southpaws in a full-page advertisement in USA Today: the Left-Handed Whopper. The burger’s condiments were rotated 180 degrees, according to the fast food business, to better accommodate the 1.4 million lefties who frequented its locations. Thousands of consumers ordered the new burger, consuming an April Fools’ Day whopper while doing so. Customers not only ordered the new burgers, but several expressly asked for the “old” right-handed artery-smasher.
6. Google With Minds (2000)
Google‘s first April Fool’s Day prank was in 2000, and it has since become famous for its annual hoaxes. Visitors to the search engine’s website learnt about a new “MentalPlex” technology that, according to the company, reads people’s minds without them having to type in a query. In the years afterwards, Google has pulled off an increasing number of complex ruses, announcing products and services like Google Nose, Gmail Motion and PigeonRank.
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