April Fool’s day is like the official holiday of the internet since countless websites come up with some of the cheekiest ways to fool their readers. However, April Fool’s hasn’t always been celebrated digitally. For decades, the tradition of pulling pranks on people was done the old-fashioned way. Before most of us became aware of many things, pranksters around the world utilized TV, radio stations and other forms to carry out some amazing pranks. Here, we are listing some of the greatest pranks that have been carried out in the history of April Fool’s; some of which will put us all to shame.
1. On April 1, 1957, the BBC TV show “Panorama” ran a segment claiming that pasta grew on trees. Many viewers failed to see that the documentary was a spoof, and called the station to find out where they could purchase their very own spaghetti bush.
In 1957, the BBC decided to pull a simple prank on its viewers by airing a segment about spaghetti crops in Switzerland. The segment, narrated by distinguished broadcaster Richard Dimbleby, showed women in Switzerland picking spaghetti out of trees and laying them out in the sun to dry. While most viewers were smart enough to understand that it was a spoof documentary, not everyone was able to put two and two together. Instead, they called the station to find out where they could purchase their very own spaghetti bush. The prank was also the first time the medium of television was used to stage an April Fool’s Day hoax. (source)
2. On April 1st, people were invited to see the lions being washed. Even though the ceremony didn’t exist, that didn’t stop crowds from showing up to see these big cats.
The tradition of Pranking on April Fool’s day dates centuries back. One such prank took place in 1698 when the Tower of London was home to the Royal Menagerie that housed exotic wild animals, never before seen in London. On April 1st, people were invited to see the lions being washed. Although it was a joke, many failed to see it as one and showed up to see the big cats getting their baths. The prank was first reported in a newspaper write-up in 1698 and carried on for years. Even when there were no exotic animals in the Tower, pranksters printed tickets and handed them to unwitting tourists who fell for the prank every year. (source)
3. In 1998, Burger King pulled a stunt by introducing the left-Handed Whopper. Burger King said to its left-handed customers that all the condiments were rotated 180° to suit the left-handed burger connoisseur.
On April Fool’s Day of 1998, Burger King published a full page advertisement in USA Today, announcing the “Left-Handed Whopper”. According to the advertisement, the new whopper included the same ingredients as the original Whopper (lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty, etc.). However, the left-handed whopper had “all condiments rotated 180 degrees, thereby redistributing the weight of the sandwich so that the bulk of the condiments will skew to the left, thereby reducing the amount of lettuce and other toppings from spilling out the right side of the burger”.
Thousands of unsuspecting customers flocked to the fast food joint, requesting the all new burger suited for them. The next day, Burger King issued a follow-up explaining that it was nothing more than a joke. For thousands of people, the thought that a burger is basically, you know, a circle, never crossed their minds. (source)
4. There was a man so dedicated to April Fool’s that he flew hundreds of tires into a dormant volcano in Alaska and set them on fire; fooling the local populace and coast guard into thinking that the volcano was active.
Oliver “Porky” Bickar, then 50, was a local prankster who was known by all in the town of Sitka, Alaska. In 1971, he hatched up one of the biggest and best pranks he had ever pulled in his life. The 50-year-old decided to make it look like Mount Edgecumbe, a volcano which had been dormant for about 400 years, was about to erupt. So, Oliver collected 70 old tires and patiently waited for three long years until April Fool’s Day 1974, when the conditions were just right for the prank. With the help of Earl Walker, a helicopter pilot in Petersburg, and some friends, Oliver carried the tires to the crater, lit them on fire, and went back home.
The prank was an instant success. Residents woke up to see smoke coming from the volcano and started preparing for the worst. Although Oliver had informed the FAA and local police of his stunt, he forgot to mention his plans to the Coast Guard, who frantically flew to the top of the mountain to confirm their worst fear. When the Coast Guard pilot arrived at the crater, he saw old tires burning and 50-foot-high black letters spray painted to say “April Fool’s”. The pilot giggled and made his way back to inform the residents that it was just a prank. The prank is considered to be one of the greatest April Fool’s day pranks of all time. (source)
5. On April Fool’s Day in 1989, billionaire Richard Branson designed a hot air balloon to look like a UFO, and hired a man to wear an E.T. costume to come out and scare whoever was near it when it landed.
Richard Branson, the billionaire entrepreneur, is well-known for his elaborate pranks and publicity stunts. On April Fool’s Day in 1989, he decided to step up his game by creating a hot-air-balloon to look like an UFO and flying it over London in the early morning hours. Residents woke up to see a mysterious object flying above them. Police and radio stations were flooded with calls about the UFO and authorities were pursuing the object to see where it would land. Although Branson had planned to land in Hyde Park, poor weather conditions flew him off course, forcing him to land in Surrey Field instead.
After landing, a lone police officer approached the aircraft, while others surrounded it. The officer called for anyone inside to come out, and when the door opened, a man wearing an E.T. costume emerged. The officer was not amused with the publicity stunt and threatened to make arrests but later decided not to do so. (source)
6. On April 1, 1996, Taco Bell took out a full page ad in major newspapers, explaining that they have purchased the Liberty Bell and were renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Readers not realizing that it was an April Fool’s joke were outraged and called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia to making formal complaints.
While Taco Bell might be famous among American’s, their taco sauce is not spicy enough to convince people to rename an important and famous symbol of American independence. In 1996, the fast-food giant took out a full-page ad in six major newspapers, and claimed that it had recently purchased the Liberty Bell. The ad also explained to readers that the fast-food giant was renaming the iconic symbol of the country to Taco Liberty Bell. Instead of understanding that it was nothing more than a prank, outraged citizens called employees of National Park Services and made formal complaints. The employees had to attend thousands of calls and reassure everyone that the Liberty Bell was not sold to the highest bidder nor was it being renamed to Taco Liberty Bell. (source)
7. On April Fool’s Day of 2002, NASA posted a picture, claiming that the moon was made of cheese and included an expiration date.
In 2002, NASA decided to take part in the April Fool’s tradition and released a photo to the public. According to NASA, an image captured by a new camera aboard the Hubble Space Telescope helped astronomers prove that the Moon is in fact made of green cheese. “To be cautious, we should completely devour the Moon by tomorrow,” a spokesperson advised. The image was actually taken in 1965 by the Ranger 9 probe but was altered to be part of an April Fool’s joke in 2002. Many failed to realize that it was just a joke and began creating conspiracy theories of their own. (source)
8. In 1962, Sweden’s Sveriges Television hired a “technical expert” to prank people by claiming that if they held a thinly stretched nylon screen in front of a television, it would bend the light and produce a color image.
Long before the world of color television, people enjoyed watching their favorite shows in black and white. To see everything in color was something everyone dreamed of but the technology did not exist until the late 1960’s. In 1962, Sweden’s Sveriges Television decided to take advantage of the desire to watch TV in color by pulling an elaborate prank. The television broadcaster hired a “technical expert” and ran a segment that claimed to convert any B&W TV into color, simply by placing a a thin stretched nylon screen in front of a television. The so-called expert said that the nylon screen would cause light to bend in a different wavelength and produce a color image. Thousands of Swedish men and women tried it and fell victim to the prank. (source)
9. On April Fool’s Day in 1976, English astronomer Patrick Moore stated to radio listeners that due to “a conjunction of Jupiter and Pluto” gravity would noticeably decrease on Earth.. Shortly after, the BBC received hundreds of calls from people reporting they had felt the decrease in gravity.
The prank that people on Earth will be able to experience weightlessness on April 1st has been going on for decades. English astronomer Patrick Moore stated to BBC Radio 2 listeners that the “Jovian-Plutonian Gravitational Effect” would make them weightless. The broadcast also stated that people had to “jump in the air at the precise moment the alignment occurred”. The April Fool’s Day joke perpetrated by Moore in 1976 was misunderstood, and the radio station was soon flooded with calls from listeners claiming to have felt the effect. The truth is, there is no such thing as a Jovian-Plutonian gravitational alignment. (source)
10. In 2005, Google decided to prank users by claiming that they were branching out and creating a new drink called Google Gulp, which would help “to achieve maximum optimization of your soon-to-be-grateful cerebral cortex”. Also, low in carbs.
On April Fool’s day of 2005, Google rolled out a new product called Google Gulp. The company claimed that Google Gulp was a high-tech “smart drink” that featured a DNA scanner embedded in the lip of the bottle. This scanner would read “all 3 gigabytes of your base pair genetic data in a fraction of a second, fine-tuning your individual hormonal cocktail in real time by using patented Auto-Drink™ technology, and slamming a truckload of electrolytic neurotransmitter stimulants past the blood-brain barrier to achieve maximum optimization of your soon-to-be-grateful cerebral cortex”. They also said that the drink was low in carbs. As usual, many eagerly waited for the tech giant to release its April Fool’s product. (source)