List of April Fool's Day jokes
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, showing Swiss harvesting spaghetti from trees. They had 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.1 Decades later CNN called this broadcast "the biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled".2
- Smell-o-vision: In 1965, the BBC purported to conduct a trial of a new technology allowing the transmission of odor over the airwaves to all viewers. Many viewers reportedly contacted the BBC to report the trial's success.3 In 2007, the BBC website repeated an online version of the hoax.4
- 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.5
- 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.6
- 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.7
- 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.8
- 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 story on the "iBod," a portable body control device.9 In 2008 it reported that the IRS, to assure rebate checks were actually spent, was shipping consumer products instead of checks.10 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".11
- 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").12
- 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, but about half were from listeners wanting to request a song.13
- Hoax phone call to Mandela: 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.14
- 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 were a tribute band called U2opia.15
- In The Guardian newspaper, in the United Kingdom, on April Fool's Day, 1977, a fictional mid-ocean state of San Serriffe was created in a seven-page supplement.16
- 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.17
- 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.18
- Kremvax: In 1984, in one of the earliest on-line hoaxes, a message was circulated that Usenet had been opened to users in the Soviet Union.19
- 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 £280.20
Tumblr- Mishapocalypse (also spread onto other websites such as Twitter)
- Write-only memory: Signetics advertised write-only memory (WOM) ICs in their databooks in 1972 through the late 1970s.21
- 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 10.22
- Still a good joke – 47 years on (BBC News, April 1, 2004)
- By Saeed Ahmed CNN. "A nod and a link: April Fools' Day pranks abound in the news". CNN. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
- "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.
- Midgley, Neil (April 1, 2008). "Flying penguins found by BBC programme". London: Telegraph. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
- Fooling around, book extract in The Guardian dated March 30, 2007, online at books.guardian.com (Retrieved March 29, 2009)
- Opie and Anthony: WAAF April Fools Day Prank Part 1
- ".". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved July 5, 2007.
- 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.
- Weekend Edition Sunday (April 8, 2007). "npr.org". NPR.org. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
- http://www.cbc.ca/radioshows/AS_IT_HAPPENS/20080401.shtml. Missing or empty
- Mark Washburn, "Fewer Tuning in for Most Local News", The Charlotte Observer, April 4, 2009.
- "Millennium TimeLine – 1998 April". Retrieved March 29, 2007.
- "No U2 on the horizon as fans rattled by hoax". Irish Independent. April 2, 2009. Retrieved April 2, 2009.
- "Top Ten April Fools' Day Jokes". Metro. Retrieved April 1, 2011.
- "Entry at Museum of Hoaxes". Retrieved April 2, 2008.
- Plimpton, George (April 1, 1985). "The Curious Case Of Sidd Finch". Sports Illustrated 62 (13): 58. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
- Raymond, E. S.: "The Jargon File", Kremvax entry, 2006
- " April fool fairy sold on internet" from BBC News. Retrieved July 31, 2007.
- "The origin of the WOM – the "Write Only Memory"". Retrieved March 29, 2007.
- "April Fools' Day, 1993". Museum of Hoaxes. Retrieved April 2, 2008.