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April Fools: The Wild and Wacky First Day of April

Comic Bubble in Pop Art Style with Expressions Lol

Watch out… April Fools’ Day is coming! Do you have an elaborate prank of your own brewing?  Or maybe you are still traumatized from a prank played on you last year! Either way, April Fools’ Day can be full of LOL’s or WTF’s as you can see from these very creative, funny, slightly nutty and just plain missed-their-mark actual pranks…

The origin of April Fools’ Day is actually unknown so you are welcome to make up your own story about how it started (and of course, yell “April Fool’s”! after you tell it). One theory of its origin is that in 1582, France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar which meant the start of the new year became January 1st instead of March 25th (but celebrated on April 1st). They didn’t have the internet back then so the folks who were slow to get the news and continued to celebrate the new year during the last week of March through April 1 were often teased.

Enough about why April Fool’ ‘Day – let’s move on to the fun stuff!  

In 1998, Burger King got into the April Fools’ Day fun by taking a full page ad in USA Today and announcing their new menu item. The “Left Handed Whopper”, targeted to the approximately 32 million left handed Americans, included all of the same ingredients but the condiments were rotated 180 degrees!  The next day, April 2nd, (a day famous for April Fools’ Day apologies), the company revealed in a press release that the Left Handed Whopper was a hoax but that it had been requested by thousands of customers, and not only were people requesting a left handed sandwich, but many others were requesting their own right handed version.


The Brits have long been fans of April Fools’ Day (first mention was in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales published in 1392)!. BBC TV has gotten into April Fools’ Day in a big way with many years of hoaxes like the Spaghetti Harvest from 1957, a broadcasted “documentary” of a Swiss family harvesting spaghetti from trees, and a film trailer in 2008 featuring flying penguins that evolved the ability to fly from the cold of Antarctica and migrate thousands of miles to the rainforest of South Africa.

Another amazing hoax pulled off by BBC-TV in 1965 when they interviewed a professor from a London University who had perfected “Smellovision”.  By transmitting smells over the airwaves viewers would be able to smell aromas created by television shows in their own homes.  When the professor put coffee beans and onions into a Smellovision machine, he asked viewers at home to report what they smelled.  Callers not only confirmed that they could in fact smell the scents but that the onions made them cry!

In a 1994 article written for PC Computing author John Dvorak described a bill that was in Congress that would make it illegal to use the internet while drunk. The bills number was 040194 and if that wasn’t a dead giveaway that there was something suspicious going on,, the contact person on the paperwork was Lirpa Sloof (April Fools backwards!).  The author explained that since the internet was often referred to as an “Information Super Highway”, Congress believes being drunk on a highway should be outlawed no matter what kind of highway it is!  Because people are so easily fooled (we would call this fake news now) they flooded Congress with angry calls and letters. Finally, the office of Senator Edward Kennedy released an official denial stating that the story was a hoax and that he was not a sponsor of bill #040194. Hmmmm… seeing some rather regretful posts on social media recently, perhaps there should be a bill #040194!

On April Fools’ Day 2014, a hilarious prank was played on Professor of Economics Stephen Barrows of Aquinas College. He had a strict rule that if a student’s phone rang during class, it had to be answered on speakerphone in front of the entire classroom. When a young lady named Taylor Nefcy’s phone rang that day, in accordance with the rule, she answered on speaker phone and it was “Kevin” from the Pregnancy Resource Center confirming her pregnancy results. When the call ended, the red-faced professor immediately apologized and the student assured him all was okay and that she had actually picked the name already, the first name was going to be April and the middle name Fools! It may not sound so amusing but see for yourself how funny it is!

Have we mentioned how much the BBC likes April Fools’ Day?  On April 1, 1980, the news service reported that Big Ben was changing its traditional face to a digital face.  Since the clock face would be going digital the BBC announced that because the hands were no longer needed they would be given away to the first four listeners to contact them.  The joke fell flat when listeners flooded the station with calls from angry listeners about Big Ben’s change of face resulting in the BBC’s change of face and apologizing for days for upsetting their  listeners.

Award for the cutest prank should be given to National Geographic when they announced in 2016 that they would stop publishing nude animal pictures.  With that tweet they then followed up with some adorable pictures of animals dressed in clothes!

nat geo

Beware fools, not everything you see or hear is a prank on April 1st, Tianna Marsh of New Zealand responded to an ad that everyone thought was a joke being played by a local BMW dealership.  They were offering a free car to the first person to show up in person on April 1. Tianna showed up and she got the car along with a special license plate that read NOFOOl.


Tianna Marsh with her new wheels!  Photo:  NZ Herald

So, stay safe and have fun this April 1st and don’t forget if your prank goes awry you can always apologize on April 2nd!  And if you have an April Fool’s story you want to share, well, we’re all fools here!