Are these the best April Fools pranks ever? And some to try at home
PUBLISHED: 11:39 31 March 2017 | UPDATED: 15:46 31 March 2017
There are so many to choose from and some great larks and hoaxes have failed to make the cut on April 1 - such as the iceberg towed into Sydney Harbour in 1978... but a rain shower washed away the firefighting and shaving foam to reveal plastic white sheets beneath.
Other attempts at gettong one over on us have included the “Easter Island statue” that washed up in the Netherlands in 1962, BBC TV’s 1965 interview with a London University professor who had perfected a technology called “Smellovision” that allowed the transmission of smells over the airwaves – which he then demonstrated using onions.
And here we look at some of the very best pranks that have been pulled over the years:
• In 1980 the BBC shocked listeners when it reported that Big Ben was going digital. The BBC’s Japanese service announced the clock hands would be sold to the first four listeners to contact them. One Japanese seaman in the mid-Atlantic immediately radioed in a bid
• Burger King published a full page advertisement in USA Today in 1998 announcing the new left-Handed Whopper, designed specially for the 32 million left-handed Americans
• In 1977 the Guardian published a seven-page “special report” about San Serriffe, a small country located in the Indian Ocean consisting of several islands that make the shape of a semi-colon. The two main islands were Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse. The Guardian’s phones rang all day as readers wanted more information about the perfect-sounding fictional holiday spot. (The Guardian type-face was famously san serif)
• During an interview on BBC Radio 2, on April 1 1976, astronomer Patrick Moore announced that at 9:47am the planet Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, causing a brief alignment that would reduce the Earth’s gravity. Moore told his listeners that if they jumped in the air at the exact moment this planetary alignment occurred, they would experience a strange floating sensation. Hundreds phoned in, claiming to have experienced the sensation
• In 1995, Polo Mints (“the mint with a hole”) ran ads in British papers on April 1 announcing that in accordance an EEC regulation they would no longer be producing mints with holes. To satisfy the regulation, all the existing stock of Polo mints would be supplemented with a “euro conversion kit” containing twenty 7mm hole fillers to be placed inside each Polo mint
• On April 1, 2014 King’s College Choir, Cambridge, released a video announcing that complex regulations had made it impractical to continue featuring young boys in the choir, and that they had found a way to replicate the high pitch of the boys’ preadolescent voices – helium. The video, demonstrating the use of the gas on the voices, generated almost 1 million views on YouTube
• The Soviet newspaper Izvestia reported on April 1, 1988, that Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona was in negotiations to join Spartak Moscow, who were to pay him $6 million to play on their struggling team. The story went global but a retraction had to be published after the prank was revealed. The story had been believed the story because Soviet papers had never before published an April Fool’s Day hoax. The sudden display of humour was credited to Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost
• On March 31, 1940, Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute issued a press release declaring that the world would end the following day. Panic ensued when radio station KYW told listeners, “Scientists predict that the world will end at 3pm Eastern Standard Time tomorrow. This is no April Fool joke.” The panic only subsided after the Franklin Institute repeatedly assured everyone that it had made no such prediction. The prankster responsible for the press release turned out to be William Castellini the Institute’s press agent who had intended to publicise a lecture. He was dismissed soon afterwards
• The best known public prank of all time is the 1957 Panorama feature about the bumper spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland. There was film footage of a Swiss family pulling pasta off spaghetti trees and placing it into baskets. People who phoned the BBC asking how theycould grow their own spaghetti tree were told: “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”
(Sources: MGN; hoaxes.org)
Brief origins of April Fools Day (Wikipedia)
In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392), the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale” is set “Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two.” Scholars moot that it actually means 32 days after March, ie May 2 but the way it is transcribed makes it look like March 32nd, ie April 1.
• In 1508, French poet Eloy d’Amerval referred to a poisson d’avril (April fool, literally “Fish of April”).
• In 1539, Flemish poet Eduard de Dene wrote of a nobleman who sent his servants on foolish errands on April 1
• In 1686, John Aubrey referred to the holiday as “Fooles holy day”, the first British reference.
• On April 1, 1698, several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to “see the Lions washed”.
For April 1, why don’t you:
• Push scrunched up paper into the toes of shoes and watch as people try and put them on before heading off to school/work
• Sellotape the bread to the bottom of the bread bin
• Use safety pins to secure the folded tablecloth
(source: my dad)