April Fool’s Day Inspires Tall Tales & Trickery
Legend has it that April Fool’s Day originated after France switched to the Gregorian calendar, moving “New Year’s Day” to January 1. Those who didn’t know or follow the change continued to celebrate on April 1 and were dubbed April Fools…
A perfect opportunity evolved for pranksters – plus companies and media – across centuries and countries. Required reading is a visit to: http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/aprilfool/P10/ which posts the top 100 April Fool’s hoaxes of all time, judged by notoriety, creativity, and number of people duped. I guarantee this will entertain and put you on a creative, mischievous wave length.
These highlight sensational PR gimmicks:
My Favorite: Be Sure to View the Videos!
The respected BBC announced that camera crews filming in the Antarctic had captured footage of Adélie penguins taking to the air including a video clip which became one of the most viewed videos on the Internet. “Instead of huddling together to endure the Antarctic winter, these penguins fly thousands of miles to the South American rainforests to winter basking in the tropical sun.” A follow-up video explained how the BBC created the special effects.
The New York Times printed a photograph and description of a man flying by means of a device powered only by his lungs – a miraculous new invention. The man blew into a box which activated rotors that lifted him aloft. Skis served as landing gear, and a tail fin allowed him to steer. Hearst’s International News Photo agency fell for the hoax and distributed it to all subscribers.
On March 31, thousands of motorists outside London looked up in the air to see a glowing flying saucer descending on their city and watched it land. Calls to the police warned of an alien invasion. When a door in the craft popped open, and a small, silver-suited figure emerged, it was learned that the saucer was a hot-air balloon built to look like a UFO. It was the work of Richard Branson, 36-year-old chairman of Virgin Records, who had combined his passion for ballooning with his love of pranks.
National Public Radio announced that Richard Nixon, in a surprise move, was running for President again with the slogan, “I didn’t do anything wrong, and I won’t do it again” – accompanied by his candidacy speech, which was impersonated by comedian Rich Little. Listeners responded viscerally, flooding the show with calls of shock and outrage.
1994: Drunk Driving on the Internet
PC Computing magazine described a bill in Congress that would make it illegal to use the internet while drunk, or to discuss sexual matters over a public network. The bill was numbered 040194 and the contact person was Lirpa Sloof (April Fools backwards). The article said the FBI was going to use the bill to tap the phone line of anyone who “uses or abuses alcohol” while accessing the internet. Passage of the bill was felt to be certain because “Congress thinks being drunk on a highway is bad no matter what kind of (information) highway it is.” The article generated so many outraged phone calls to Congress that Senator Edward Kennedy’s office had to release an official denial of the rumor that he was a sponsor of the bill.
Taco Bell Corporation announced it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens expressed anger until Taco Bell revealed it was all a practical joke. When White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale, he glibly responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold and would be known as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.
Burger King published a full page ad in USA Today announcing the new “Left-Handed Whopper,” specially designed for America’s 32 million left-handers. The new Whopper included the same ingredients as the original but with all condiments rotated 180 degrees for left-handed customers. Burger King issued a follow-up release revealing that although the Left-Handed Whopper was a hoax, thousands of customers had requested the new sandwich while many others requested their traditional ‘right handed’ version.
The BBC announced that thanks to a mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. Footage showed farmers pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers called wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree, to which the BBC replied, “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”
Please share your best April Fool’s story to add to our blog – either as the “duper” or the “dupee.” The most original will win a new 50” flat screen TV for the NCAA championship game on Mon., April 4.
BTW, all insider information pegs UCONN (my alma mater) as the winner! And that’s no April Fool’s Joke.