April Fools’ Day is celebrated in the Western world on the 1st of April of every year. It is widely recognized and celebrated as a day which tolerates practical jokes and general foolishness. The day is marked by good humored jokes, hoaxes and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, family members, teachers, neighbors, work associates, etc.
Here are some of the most famous April Fools’ Day pranks down through the years!
The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest
1957: The respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied, “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”
The Taco Liberty Bell
1996: The Taco Bell Corporation announced it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell was housed to express their anger. Their nerves were only calmed when Taco Bell revealed, a few hours later, that it was all a practical joke. The best line of the day came when White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale. Thinking on his feet, he responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold. It would now be known, he said, as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.
The Left-Handed Whopper
1998: Burger King published a full page advertisement in USA Todayannouncing the introduction of a new item to their menu: a “Left-Handed Whopper” specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new whopper included the same ingredients as the original Whopper (lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty, etc.), but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers. The following day Burger King issued a follow-up release revealing that although the Left-Handed Whopper was a hoax, thousands of customers had gone into restaurants to request the new sandwich. Simultaneously, according to the press release, “many others requested their own ‘right handed’ version.”
The Derbyshire Fairy
2007: In late March 2007, images of an 8-inch mummified creature resembling a fairy were posted on the website of the Lebanon Circle Magik Co. Accompanying text explained how the creature had been found by a man walking his dog along an old roman road in rural Derbyshire. Word of this discovery soon spread around the internet. Bloggers excitedly speculated about whether the find was evidence of the actual existence of fairies. By April 1 the Lebanon Circle website had received tens of thousands of visitors and hundreds of emails. But at the end of April 1, Dan Baines, the owner of the site, confessed that the fairy was a hoax. He had used his skills as a magician’s prop-maker to create the creature. Baines later reported that, even after his confession, he continued to receive numerous emails from people who refused to accept the fairy wasn’t real.
Could Shakespeare be French?
And last but not least, BBC Radio 4 played an April Fools’ Day hoax last year, claiming that Shakespeare could have been French! Playing up to old Anglo-French rivalries, the BBC ran a news story on how Shakespeare, Britain’s most famous writer, could in fact be French through his mother Mary Arden, saying her name was in fact Mary Ardennes.
Could William Shakespeare be French?
New evidence unearthed at the site of his Stratford home suggests that the mother of England’s most famous son was French.
The French Ministry of Culture has told the Today programme that it wants to honour the playwright as a member of France’s own pantheon of great writers.
You can listen to the radio broadcast here!