At one time or another, usually in April, we have all been deceived by an April fool's joke. The younger you are, the more likely you are to be fooled as the elderly have experienced this phenomenon at least once a year during their lifetime. The record is held by Yuri C. Igotchu from Wytka, a city in northern Siberia. Mr. Igotchu is the oldest living person. He was born in 1849 and claims the yearly prank has fooled him more than 100 times. A record he is confident will never be broken. April fool's is believed by many to have begun when the Vatican moved Christmas from April 1 to December 25 to offset a pagan holiday. It is said that if you celebrated Christ's birthday on April 1, you were fair game for pranks. The popularity of the holiday has caught on so well that almost every country in the world participates, even if their governments do not recognize the holiday. This is the list of Top Ten April Fool's day jokes. Have you been fooled lately?
April fool's day jokes can be pretty funny. Pulling a prank on two or three people during the course of that one day is hilarious but fooling hundreds or even thousands of people at once is even funnier. On April 1, 1978, Dick Smith, self proclaimed adventurer and owner of Dick Smith's Food, a large food chain in Australia, came chugging into the Sydney harbor in a barge with what appeared to be a ice glacier in tow from the Antarctic. Mr. Smith had been advertising that he would go and get an iceberg and bring it to Australia where he would cut it into cubes and sell the ice to citizens. This glacier ice was supposed to improve the flavor of any drink dramatically. The joke was working as thousands of Australians cheered their hero from the docks, until it began to rain, washing away the shaving cream, and firefighting foam to reveal a structure of wire and sheets beneath it. Happy April fool's day, Sydney, Australia.
If it means that their lives will be enriched in some way, people will believe almost anything. In 1962, Sweden had only one television station which was black and white. Its technical expert Kjell Stensson appeared briefly on the news on April 1st to announce that due to a great new technology, you could receive a color signal if you pulled a nylon stocking over your set. Sales of nylon stockings rose, people's I.Q. apparently dropped.
The power of the internet is undeniable. This April foolery was intended as a dig at Alabama legislature for tampering with the teaching of evolution in schools. Mark Boslov wrote in a newsletter that Alabama legislature was considering changing the value of pi to the biblical 3.0 rather than 3.14159. As funny as that little jab was, someone took it seriously and sent it to a friend in email who sent it to more friends and pretty soon, the internet carried this message worldwide. The Alabama legislature was bombarded with calls, letters, and email saying they should know better than to think they could change a mathematical equation. The legislature had no idea what to think, so they changed the state name from Alabama to Genesis and banned all history lessons that included any dates that end with bc instead.
In another demonstration of the power of the internet and the gullibility of the general public, an email circled the globe disconnecting thousands of internet users for a day. The public service announcement, supposedly sent by the "Interconnected Network Maintenance Staff, Main Branch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology," let everyone know that the internet would be down for cleaning on April 1, 1997 and to unplug all electronic devices from the internet. The "cleaning," to be performed by five very powerful Japanese-built multi-lingual Internet-crawling spider-bots, the Toshiba ML2274s, which were situated around the world ready to clear out dead email, inactive ftp, www, and gopher sites, which were causing "electronic flotsam and jetsam”. The people who fell for this practical joke were probably the same people who used to wrap their phone receivers in plastic to catch the dust whenever the phone lines were "cleaned."
Like an episode of "When Good Pranks Go Bad" this Aprils fools joke missed the mark and occurred a day early thanks to prevailing winds. On Mach 31, instead of April 1, Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Records landed his flying saucer shaped hot air balloon on the outskirts of London instead of Hyde Park, followed by motorist who gave chase from the freeways. Police arrived and approached the "UFO" only to flee like children when Branson emerged in a silver space suit. Can you say, "Take me to your police chief"?
Porky Bickar (whose mother was obviously a practical joker if that is his real name) flew hundreds of old tires into the mouth of Mount Edgecombe and then lit them on fire. The residents of Sitka, Alaska were more than alarmed and piled into the streets to watch what they thought would be the eruption that is always in the back of everyone's mind as black smoke poured from the top of their neighborhood volcano. Years later, Porky received several correspondences claiming he had gone too far when Mount St. Helens made the news for a real eruption.
Creating a series of islands for a news report, The Guardian, a British newspaper, fooled its general readership into believing this vacation spot existed, giving the series of islands, supposedly located in the Indian Ocean, names from printer's terminology. Even this small nation’s leader. General Pica is printer's terminology. The report described the geography and culture of this quaint, little known tourist paradise. People fell blindly into the joke by trying to book their vacations on the islands of Upper Caisse and lower Caisse. The capital was named Bodini. Very few people caught on.
Angry protesters took to the National Historic Park in Philadelphia and phone lines were jammed when Taco Bell announced it had purchased the Liberty Bell and renamed it the Taco Liberty Bell. Fortunately, Taco Bell later announced it was just a practical joke before demonstrators could get to their North American headquarters. White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry jibbed when asked saying that the Lincoln Memorial was also sold and is now the Lincoln Ford-Mercury Memorial. Thank Goodness America's treasures are not for sale. Who would want to buy insurance from the Statue of Liberty National Insurance Company?
Patrick Moore, a noted British Astronomer played a great practical joke which served to bring quite a few loonies out into the open. On public radio BBC radio 2 he announced that a planetary alignment of Pluto passing behind Jupiter, aligned with the earth would increase Jupiter's gravitational pull on the earth and that you would be able to feel the effects of lessened gravity on the earth if you jumped into the air at precisely 9:47 AM. Sure enough, people called the station reporting their experience including one fame seeker who claimed that her table, along with herself and eleven of her friends floated around the room for an extended period of time. She should have floated to the nearest Psychiatric facility and into a straight jacket.
Panorama is a high rated news program on BBC. In its employ is a much-respected newscaster, Richard Dimbleby, who is the "Walter Cronkite" of the BBC news world in that, when he speaks, people listen and believe. This is why so many people were sucked into this wonderfully original April fool's joke. Thought to be the first April fools to be broadcast via television, it was the last segment of a show that had been completely dedicated to the important topics of the day. The report went that the virtual disappearance of the insect, the Spaghetti Weevil, resulted in a bumper crop. The segment included video of a Swiss family harvesting spaghetti from a spaghetti tree. Dimbleby went on to tell the viewing audience that the overly abundant crop was a blessing for the small town in Switzerland. This elaborate hoax was filmed on location. The producer of the segment cooked twenty pounds of spaghetti and he and the crew hung it from the branches of a tree. Then they filmed a family "harvesting it into baskets." The newscast even provided details pertaining to careful cross-pollination of certain types of spaghetti trees, which resulted in the uniform length of the spaghetti. Then the video showed the cast and crew sitting down to enjoy a spaghetti dinner fresh from the tree. The station received a huge volume of calls from viewers who wanted to know how they could grow a spaghetti tree of their very own. The calls continued until finally, exasperated with trying to explain the hoax to every caller, they started answering callers by telling them to place a spaghetti sprig in a can of sauce and hope for the best. How hilarious is that? Now if Raid would come out with spaghetti Weevil spray, we would have it made.