List of April Fools' Day jokes
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By tradition, in some countries, April 1 or April Fools' Day is marked by pranks and practical jokes. Notable practical jokes have appeared on radio and TV stations, newspapers, web sites, and have been performed by large corporations.
- Spaghetti trees: The BBC television programme Panorama ran a hoax in 1957, purporting to show the Swiss harvesting spaghetti from trees. They claimed that the despised pest, the spaghetti weevil, had been eradicated. A large number of people contacted the BBC wanting to know how to cultivate their own spaghetti trees. It was, in fact, filmed in St Albans. The editor of Panorama at the time, Michael Peacock, approved the idea, which was pitched by freelance camera operator Charles de Jaeger. Peacock told the BBC in 2014 that he gave de Jaeger a budget of £100. Peacock said the respected Panorama anchorman Richard Dimbleby knew they were using his authoritativeness to make the joke work. He said Dimbleby loved the idea and went at it with relish. Decades later CNN called this broadcast "the biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled".
- In 1962, Swedish national television broadcast a 5-minute special on how one could get color TV by placing a nylon stocking in front of the TV. A rather in-depth description on the physics behind the phenomenon was included. Thousands of people tried it.
- Smell-o-vision: In 1965, the BBC purported to conduct a trial of a new technology allowing the transmission of odour over the airwaves to all viewers. Many viewers reportedly contacted the BBC to report the trial's success. In 2007, the BBC website repeated an online version of the hoax, as did Google in 2013, in tribute.
- Great Blue Hill eruption prank: On April 1, 1980, Boston television station WNAC-TV aired a fake news bulletin at the end of the 6 o'clock news which reported that Great Blue Hill in Milton, Massachusetts was erupting. The prank resulted in panic in Milton, where some residents began to flee their homes. The executive producer of the 6 o'clock news, Homer Cilley, was fired by the station for "his failure to exercise good news judgment" and for violating the Federal Communications Commission's rules about showing stock footage without identifying it as such.
- In 2008, the BBC reported on a newly discovered colony of flying penguins. An elaborate video segment was even produced, featuring Terry Jones walking with the penguins in Antarctica, and following their flight to the Amazon rainforest.
- Netflix April Fools' Day jokes include over-detailing categories of films, and adding original programming made up entirely of food cooking.
- In 1969 the public broadcaster NTS in the Netherlands announced that inspectors with remote scanners would drive the streets to detect people who had not paid their radio/TV tax ("kijk en luistergeld" or "omroepbijdrage"). The only way to prevent detection was to wrap the TV/radio in Alu foil. The next day all supermarkets were sold out of their Alu foil, and a surge of TV/radio taxes were being payed.
|New England Suffers Maple Woes, 7:49, April 1, 2005, NPR|
- Jovian–Plutonian gravitational effect: In 1976, British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore told listeners of BBC Radio 2 that unique alignment of two planets would result in an upward gravitational pull making people lighter at precisely 9:47 am that day. He invited his audience to jump in the air and experience "a strange floating sensation". Dozens of listeners phoned in to say the experiment had worked, among them a woman who reported that she and her 11 friends were "wafted from their chairs and orbited gently around the room.
- Death of a mayor: In 1998, local WAAF shock jocks Opie and Anthony were discussing April Fool's Day hoaxes, and sardonically stated that Boston mayor Thomas Menino had been killed in a car accident. Menino happened to be on a flight at the time, lending credence to the prank as he could not be reached. The pair repeated that the mayor was dead several times throughout the broadcast, however listeners who tuned in late to the broadcast did not hear that they were repeating a bit, and when they pretended to tell the "news" to an unsuspecting listener (the listener thought she was calling a different show), the rumor spread quickly across the city, eventually causing news stations to issue alerts denying the hoax. The pair were fired shortly thereafter.
- In 1998, UK presenter Nic Tuff of West Midlands radio station pretended to be the British Prime Minister Tony Blair when he called the then South African President Nelson Mandela for a chat. It was only at the end of the call when Nic asked Nelson what he was doing for April Fools' Day that the line went dead.
- Archers theme tune change: BBC Radio 4 (2005): The Today Programme announced in the news that the long-running serial The Archers had changed their theme tune to an upbeat disco style.
- iBod: 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 2006 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".
- Canadian three-dollar coin: In 2008, the CBC Radio program As It Happens interviewed a Royal Canadian Mint spokesman who broke "news" of plans to replace the Canadian five-dollar bill with a three-dollar coin. The coin was dubbed a "threenie", in line with the nicknames of the country's one-dollar coin ("loonie" due to its depiction of a common loon on the reverse) and two-dollar coin ("toonie").
- Country to metal: Country and gospel WIXE in Monroe, North Carolina does a prank every year. In 2009, midday host Bob Rogers announced he was changing his show to heavy metal. This resulted in numerous phone calls, about half from listeners wanting to request a song.
- U2 live on rooftop in Cork: In 2009, hundreds of U2 fans were duped in an elaborate prank when they rushed to a shopping centre in Cork believing that the band were playing a surprise rooftop concert. The prank was organised by Cork radio station RedFM. The band was a tribute band called U2opia.
- In 2000, the Triple J breakfast show hosted by Adam Spencer announced that the International Olympic Committee had stripped Sydney of its right to host the 2000 Summer Olympics, including a phone conversation with then-New South Wales Premier Bob Carr.
Newspapers and magazines
- Scientific American columnist Martin Gardner wrote in an April 1975, article that MIT had invented a new chess computer program that predicted "pawn to queens rook four" is always the best opening move.
- In The Guardian newspaper, in the United Kingdom, on April Fools' Day, 1977, a fictional mid-ocean state of San Serriffe was created in a seven-page supplement.
- A 1985 issue of Sports Illustrated, dated April 1, featured a story by George Plimpton on a baseball player, Hayden Siddhartha Finch, a New York Mets pitching prospect who could throw the ball 168 miles per hour (270 km/h) and who had a number of eccentric quirks, such as playing with one barefoot and one hiking boot. Plimpton later expanded the piece into a full-length novel on Finch's life. Sports Illustrated cites the story as one of the more memorable in the magazine's history.
- Associated Press were fooled in 1983 when Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University, provided an alternative explanation for the origins of April Fools' Day. He claimed to have traced the practice to Constantine's period, when a group of court jesters jocularly told the emperor that jesters could do a better job of running the empire, and the amused emperor nominated a jester, Kugel, to be the king for a day. Boskin related how the jester passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day and the custom became an annual event. Boskin explained the jester's role as being able to put serious matters into perspective with humor. An Associated Press article brought this alternative explanation to public's attention in newspapers, not knowing that Boskin had invented the entire story as an April Fool's joke itself, and were not made aware of this until some weeks later.
- Taco Liberty Bell: In 1996, Taco Bell took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times announcing that they had purchased the Liberty Bell to "reduce the country's debt" and renamed it the "Taco Liberty Bell". When asked about the sale, White House press secretary Mike McCurry replied tongue-in-cheek that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold and would henceforth be known as the Lincoln Mercury Memorial.
- Kremvax: In 1984, in one of the earliest online hoaxes, a message was circulated that Usenet had been opened to users in the Soviet Union.
- April Fools' Day Request for Comments: Almost every year since 1989, the Internet Engineering Task Force has included an April Fool in their Request for Comments publication, including a "Hyper Text Coffee Pot Control Protocol" and "Electricity over IP".
- College Mascots: For decades, printed college newspapers have run stories about their respective institutions changing to a ridiculous or silly new athletics mascot. In the internet age, the practice has moved to online editions and then to the social media pages of fanbases and alumni associations.
- Dead fairy hoax: In 2007, an illusion designer for magicians posted on his website some images illustrating the corpse of an unknown eight-inch creation, which was claimed to be the mummified remains of a fairy. He later sold the fairy on eBay for £280.
- Google (including YouTube, Gmail, etc.): Google is well known for the annual April Fools' jokes, which they have done in 2000, 2002, and every year since 2004.
- Bing: In 2015, Bing launched a pretend new product called the "Cute Cloud", which acted as a hub for cute animal videos and gifs.
- ZipRecruiter: in 2016, ZipRecruiter launched a new service called "Jobs for Babies," which included a video of cute babies doing adult jobs.
- Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts: in 2016, Comptroller Glenn Hegar sent a message on Twitter that Texas would issue its own currency for the first time since 1845.
- Hotelicopter: In 2009, a flying hotel was purportedly about to take off from New York. The hoax was organised by a marketing company for a hotel search site.
- Write-only memory: Signetics advertised write-only memory (WOM) ICs in their databooks in 1972 through the late 1970s.
- Decimal time: Repeated several times in various countries, this hoax involves claiming that the time system will be changed to one in which units of time are based on powers of 10.
- In 2014, King's College, Cambridge released a YouTube video detailing their decision to discontinue the use of boy sopranos and instead use grown men who have inhaled helium gas.
- April Fools' Day RFC
- List of Google April Fools' Day hoaxes
- List of practical joke topics
- Wikipedia:April Fools, a list of past April Fools jokes on Wikipedia
- Still a good joke – 47 years on (BBC News, April 1, 2004)
- BBC TV News interview with Michael Peacock 1/4/14...
- Saeed Ahmed CNN. "A nod and a link: April Fools' Day pranks abound in the news". CNN. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
- "Instant Color TV, 1962". museumofhoaxes.com. Retrieved 2014-04-01.
- "April Fools' Day, 1965". Museum of Hoaxes. Retrieved March 29, 2007.
- BBC (April 1, 2007). "BBC Smell-o-vision". Archived from the original on January 6, 2010. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
- Loohauls, Jackie (March 30, 1984). "These practical jokers didn't fool around". The Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved May 12, 2014.
- "Volcano joke ends in firing". Bowling Green Daily News. 3 April 1980. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
- Piot, Debra K. (4 April 1980). "TV station fires producer for airing April-fool prank". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
- Midgley, Neil (April 1, 2008). "Flying penguins found by BBC programme". London: Telegraph. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
- Kleinman, Alexis (1 April 2013). "Netflix April Fool's Day Prank: Implausibly Specific Categories". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
- Gupta, Prachi (1 April 2013). "Netflix's April Fools' Day categories". Salon. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
- Kolodny, Carina (1 April 2014). "We Would Actually Watch These Delicious Netflix Prank Shows". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
- Molina, Brett (1 April 2014). "Netflix may have won April Fool's Day". Retrieved 19 April 2014.
- "Happy Birthday To Us: Listeners Inspire A Deep Dive Into Our Archives". NPR. February 27, 2016. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
- Fooling around, book extract in The Guardian dated March 30, 2007, online at books.guardian.com (Retrieved March 29, 2009)
- "Planetary Alignment Decreases Gravity – April Fool's Day, 1976". Museum of Hoaxes. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
- "Opie and Anthony: WAAF April Fools Day Prank Part 1". Youtube.com. 2011-10-14. Retrieved 2013-07-05.
- "Millennium TimeLine". April 1998. Retrieved March 29, 2007.
- "New Archers Theme Tune". Latest Reports. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
- Weekend Edition Saturday (April 1, 2006). "www.npr.org IBOD story". Npr.org. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
- Gagliano, Rico (April 1, 2008). "IRS making sure your rebate gets spent | Marketplace From American Public Media". Marketplace.publicradio.org. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
- "Letters: April Fools!". Weekend Edition Sunday. NPR. April 8, 2007. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
- http://www.cbc.ca/player/AudioMobile/As+It+Happens/ID/2369004690/ As It Happens - 2008: Three-Dollar Coin[dead link]
- Mark Washburn, "Fewer Tuning in for Most Local News", The Charlotte Observer, April 4, 2009.
- "No U2 on the horizon as fans rattled by hoax". Irish Independent. April 2, 2009. Retrieved April 2, 2009.
- "30 Years of Triple J - April Fools 2000". Retrieved April 1, 2016.
- Braunlich, Tom (May 28, 2010). "Martin Gardner, Mathematician and Lifelong Chess Fan, Dies at 95". The United States Chess Federation. Archived from the original on January 23, 2015. Retrieved January 23, 2015.
- "Top Ten April Fools' Day Jokes". Metro. Retrieved April 1, 2011.
- Plimpton, George (April 1, 1985). "The Curious Case Of Sidd Finch". Sports Illustrated. 62 (13): 58. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
- "Origin and History of April Fools' day".
- "Entry at Museum of Hoaxes". Retrieved April 2, 2008.
- Raymond, E. S.: "The Jargon File", Kremvax entry, 2006
- Glenn Arthur Pierce, "I Need a Spring Break from April Fool's Day Mascots" (2016), https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/10142813-i-need-a-spring-break-from-april-fool-
- " April fool fairy sold on internet" from BBC News. Retrieved July 31, 2007.
- Shaer, Matthew (31 March 2010). "Top five online April Fools' pranks". The Christian Science Monitor. Christian Science Publishing Society. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
- "The origin of the WOM – the "Write Only Memory"". Retrieved March 29, 2007.
- "April Fools' Day, 1993". Museum of Hoaxes. Retrieved April 2, 2008.
- "King's College Choir announces major change". Retrieved April 1, 2014.
- April Fools' Day On The Web: List of Most April Fools' Day jokes from the web starting in 2004 until today