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The best April Fool’s Day pranks of all time

Posted by mandyf on April 1, 2012

April Fool’s Day jokes are a dime a dozen, but a great April Fool’s Day hoax lives on forever and has thousands or even millions of people totally caught with the wool pulled over their eyes. To pull off a great April Fool’s Day prank  takes time to prepare, a sharp wit, a bit of a twisted imagination and it helps if you own a major media outlet or have the ability to manipulate one. It takes more than starting a twitter rumor that Chuck Norris is dead for the third year in a row, it takes pure genius. With that in mind, be amazed by the ten best April Fool’s Day hoaxes of all time.

Small wasp swarm

#10 – Phil Stone was a deejay working for radio station 1ZB back in 1949 when he pulled off an all time classic. He took the airwaves and warned listeners that a mild swarm of wasps was on its way to Auckland, but not to fear he had the official steps everyone needed to take to protect themselves. He began by telling everyone to leave honey coated wasp traps outside of their front door (whatever those are), and to make sure they tucked in all of their clothes – especially their pants into their socks as wasps love flying up pant legs.

They say only a few hundred people that went out fell for it, but a ton of people stayed indoors out of fear. After that radio stations had to follow a strict policy of reminding all deejays that they were not to pull such pranks and only report real factual news. For changing regulations and the novelty of the idea this is a winner.

#9 – Science Digest named the 1933 Wisconsin State House collapse as one of the best ever, As the story goes, the Madison Capital-Times ran a feature stating the capitol building collapsed due to “large quantities of gas, generated through many weeks of verbose debate in Senate and Assembly chamber.” There was even a picture – doctored of course – that ran with the column. While a fair amount of people caught on, and some were even outraged, what was amazing is how many people fell for it.

#8 – In 2000, Joey Skaggs pulled a fast one that fooled CNN and FOX! Skaggs engineered phony press releases and ads stating that the 15th Annual New York City April Fool’s Parade would begin on 59th Street at noon and work it’s way to Fifth Avenue. He said the highlighted floats would include the “Atlanta Braves tribute to racism“, a “Where’s Mars” float that cost $10 billion to construct, and a “beat ‘em, Bust ‘em, Book ‘em” float from the NYPD. CNN and FOX news bit and had crews on the scene waiting for the parade that was never going to happen.

The late Ted Kennedy (D-MA)

#7 – PC Computing columnist John Dvorak released the now infamous hoaxed bill #040194 on – you guessed it 04/01/94 which stated congress was about to pass a bill making it illegal to use the internet when drunk. It created such a huge buzz and sucked in so many geeks that the office of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy had to issue a press release denying it as he was credited as the sponsor of the bill. You have to love the humor in choosing a man who may have said “pour more Chivas” more than any human on Earth, to be the fake sponsor of the fake bill.

#6  – The Richard Branson UFO hoax is hard to top. Branson had a hot air balloon constructed to resemble a UFO in 1989 that he planned to land in Hyde Park. The winds didn’t play along and he blew off course, but when he landed passersby on the road stopped to see what was happening and neighbors drew near – who wouldn’t right? A policeman did work up the nerve to approach it until a door opened up providing a view of a “alien” in a silver suit. The policeman turned and ran and soon the hoax was revealed.

#5 – The BBC spoofed everyone when they released a video of flying penguins in 2008 as a part of their “Miracles of Evolution” series. The video was so good millions fell for it. To top the story off, they even went so far as to say when it got too cold the penguins flew to the rain forest of South America to enjoy the tropical sun.

#4 – In 1975 on the Australian show This Day Tonight, they made the announcement that the country was about to abandon traditional time telling and convert to metric time. Under metric time there would be 100 seconds to the minute, 100 minutes to the hour, and days would be 20 hours instead of 24. They even got the Deputy premiere Des Corcoran to play along giving the new system rave reviews. It worked so well people actually began looking for metric clocks, and as the Museum of Hoaxes noted, some even wondered how they could re-set their digital clocks to metric time.

#3 – Burger King went the extra mile back in 1998 when they took out boatloads of full page ads announcing the new “Left handed Whopper” for the 32 million or so left handed patrons they service. They described the difference as all the condiments on the Whopper being rotated 180 degrees so that left handed customers could taste their Whopper the same way right handed customers did. It goes without saying thousands of customers hit the BK and asked for one.

Sidd Finch

#2 – The 1985 story in Sports Illustrated about a Mets prospect who could throw 168 mph fastball with unerring accuracy was one of the greatest April Fool’s Day hoaxes ever. That pitcher was the now infamous Sid Finch, and to this day there are plenty of people that recall reading how he mastered the art of pitching while living in a Tibetan Monastery. Mets fans went nuts thinking they had the greatest 1-2 punch in history on their doorstep in the fictitious Finch and the real life Dwight Gooden.  As fate would have it Sports Illustrated was overwhelmed with requests from all corners about Finch as no one could locate him. All they needed to do was look into the imagination of the author of the story George Plimpton.

#1 – Hands down the best April Fool’s hoax ever comes from our friends at the BBC. In 1957 a show called Panorama that a mild winter had increased the Swiss spaghetti harvest – which was good news because the spaghetti weevil nearly ruined the industry the previous year! To really sell it, they had footage of women out in the spaghetti orchards pulling long strands of healthy spaghetti off the spaghetti trees and placing each one gently in their baskets. That was good enough to be the best ever, but what was even better was when they gave instructions for growing spaghetti which said “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”

Keep in mind, on April the 1st that if it sounds too good to be true, if it sounds a little too fantastical, and if it sounds too enormous – just wait a day before buying into it. It is amazing how much things can change on April 2nd!


6 Responses to “The best April Fool’s Day pranks of all time”

  1. I have to admit, I love April Fools Day!

  2. txwikinger said

    Reblogged this on txwikinger's blog.

  3. txwikinger said

    Reblogged this on txwikinger's blog.

  4. Reblogged this on lastbabyboomer.

  5. V. said

    Reblogged this on New York City Marketing.

  6. spainfootball said

    The BBC are always good … back in the 70s (before Italian food was common in the UK) they did one on the failure of the spaghetti harvest … with Italian peasants and spaghetti on trees! Brilliant!

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