April Fool's Day, 1992
Nixon For President
National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation" program reported that former-President Richard Nixon had declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. Accompanying the announcement were audio clips of Nixon delivering his candidacy speech and declaring "I never did anything wrong, and I won't do it again." Harvard professor Laurence Tribe and Newsweek reporter Howard Fineman then came on the air to offer their analysis of Nixon's decision and its possible impact on the 1992 presidential race. A clip from Torrie Clarke, press secretary of the Bush-Quayle campaign, was also played in which she said, ""We are stunned and think it's an obvious attempt by Nixon to upstage our foreign policy announcement today." Listeners reacted very emotionally to the announcement, flooding NPR with calls expressing shock and outrage. During the second half of the program host John Hockenberry revealed that the announcement had been an April Fool's Day joke and explained that Nixon's voice had been impersonated by comedian Rich Little.
Apple Computer issued a press release announcing a new addition to its operating system that it dubbed 'Caffeine Manager.' This software extension would allow Apple computers to smoothly interface with coffee and soda machines. An Apple employee named Mike "Ro" Soft was quoted as saying, "Users and programmers alike now can immediately have access to a wide variety of commercial beverages from their desktop, all with the familiar Macintosh mouse-driven interface." Apple also announced that a hardware device called Quickbrew would be released later in the year. This device would "integrate sound and video with cream and sugar." The press release concluded by noting that "Apple Computer, founded fifteen years ago today, is one of the world's major consumers of Mountain Dew."
Welcome to Chicago
The Hollywood Park racetrack in Los Angeles placed an 85-foot banner on the ground that spelled out, in 20-foot-high letters, "Welcome to Chicago." This is what airline passengers saw as they descended into Los Angeles Airport.
Smithsonian Peanut Butter Conference
The Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC hosted a conference to examine the history and cultural significance of peanut butter. Lectures boasted titles such as "Peanut Butter in America: Race, Class and Gender in a Nutshell" and "'Hot Nuts,' 'Jelly Roll,' and Other Salacious Food Metaphors in Black American Vernacular Music." One speaker revealed that there are numerous ways to make a peanut butter sandwich. She declared, "There are at least 50 ways, or maybe 138, and there could be as many as a thousand." Another speaker argued that the demise of the Soviet Union could be linked to its failure to develop an alternative to peanut butter. Apparently, "Soviet efforts at potato butter just didn't work." It was also revealed that Carter lost to Reagan because, "Reagan ran on the jelly bean ticket. The peanut is more nourishing and wholesome than the sweet jelly bean but its flavor is tart and salty. After four years of Carter, Americans were tired of tartness and wanted something sweet to identify with."
The London Times
reported that formal negotiations were underway for the purpose of dividing Belgium in half. The Dutch-speaking north would join the Netherlands and the French-speaking south would join France. An editorial in the paper then lamented that, "The fun will go from that favorite parlor game: Name five famous Belgians." The report apparently fooled the British foreign office minister Tristan Garel-Jones who almost went on a TV interview prepared to discuss this "important" story. The Belgian embassy also received numerous calls from journalists and expatriate Belgians seeking to confirm the news. A rival paper later criticized the prank, declaring that, "The Times
's effort could only be defined as funny if you find the very notion of Belgium hilarious."
Space Shuttle Lands in Belgium
Illustration showing planned division of Belgium
La Derniere Heure, A Belgian newspaper, announced that the space shuttle, which was carrying the first Belgian astronaut on board, had been diverted from landing in Florida because of bad weather, and would land instead at Zaventem airport in Brussels.
No Speed Limit for Germans
L'Humanite, the French Communist Party newspaper, reported that the European Commission had decided to allow German drivers to drive as fast as they wanted through other EC countries, because Germans had no speed limit on their own motorways.
Laughing and Nagging Genes
The Today program, a British radio show, announced that scientists had discovered the gene responsible for making people laugh. They had also discovered that many people were missing the gene entirely. Apparently Germans, in particular, were lacking it. In a related announcement, Woman's Hour, another radio show, declared that scientists had discovered the gene for nagging.
Skirts For Men
The Independent Diary reported that a popular men's fashion store in London was having great success selling skirts for men. After this report appeared, the store was apparently "flooded with calls" from people trying to order them.
Drivers Must Wear Helmets
Alison St. John, a radio reporter for KPBS, the San Diego affiliate of NPR, warned that San Diego would be pelted by hail "the size of duck eggs." Terry Boyd of Metro Traffic followed up this announcement by warning that all drivers "must wear a helmet."
Radio on TV
Dave Rickards, a deejay for San Diego radio station KGB-FM, announced that a new device was being sold that would allow listeners to view KGB's radio show on TV. Local Radio Shack outlets were reportedly pestered all day by KGB listeners trying to find the device.
Sidd Finch Redux
Steve Mason, a deejay for San Diego radio station XTRA, announced that the Padres (San Diego's baseball team) had signed a pitcher who threw 150 mph. The fake announcement recalled Sports Illustrated's 1985 story
about a Tibetan-trained pitcher called Sidd Finch who could throw a ball with perfect accuracy at 168 mph.
Tax the Poor
Rush Limbaugh, a radio talk-show host famous for his support of conservative issues, declared his belief that the U.S. government should raise taxes for the poor because "they're the wealthiest poor in the world." Many of his listeners called in to applaud his belief. Later Limbaugh confessed that he does not actually support such a belief and chastised his listeners for being "too quick to believe anything that hits a hot button."
WXRT-FM, a Chicago radio station, announced that it would turn into a digital, commercial-free "pay-per-hear" station. Its signal would be scrambled and divided into five different program formats that listeners would have to pay to listen to. The five formats would be "'XRT Basic," "'XRT Live," "'XRT Gold," "'XRT Espanol" and "sports-rock." The station announced the format change all day and then switched to a scrambled signal for several minutes. Hundreds of listeners reportedly called in to protest the change, and one listener even showed up with a picket sign outside the station.
Polish News Bans Bare Breasts
Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest newspaper, announced that naked female breasts, thighs, and buttocks had been banned from the television news. Reportedly an angry crowd gathered outside of the TV headquarters to protest the decision.
April Fools From Russia
Russian newspapers reported a variety of false news stories in honor of April Fool's Day. One announced that gay-rights activists had decided to float across the Atlantic housed inside giant, inflated condoms. Another announced that readers could win $20 trips to the United States simply by phoning the number provided (which was the number of a rival publication). Another announced that a Moscow metro station would be renamed in honor of Mathias Rust, the young German pilot who landed a plane in Red Square in 1987. Finally, the Russian Information Agency reported that Anatoly Lukyanov, a political prisoner who had played a lead role in the previous year's failed coup, would receive the Nobel prize for literature for a collection of poems that he had written in his prison cell.
New Moscow Subway
The Moskovskaya Pravda, a Russian newspaper, declared in a March 32nd edition (titled Moskovskaya Nye-Pravda, or Moscow Un-Truth) that plans had been finalized to build a second subway system in Moscow. The second system was being built "in the interests of competition."
Russia Transfers Territory to Japan
A Russian television news show announced that the Russian government had decided to cede the South Kurile islands to Japan. Ownership of these islands has been a point of contestation between Japan and Russia ever since the conclusion of the second world war. In fact, Russia and Japan had not signed a peace treaty formally ending hostilities because Japan refused to accept Russia's takeover of the islands. The islanders themselves reportedly panicked when they heard the news, stopping all work in factories and offices. When they learned that the announcement was just a prank, most of them were not amused. Nikolai Pokidin, the local council chief, declared that, "There are limits for any joke."
Isle of Wight Claimed by French
BBC's Radio Solent announced that France had claimed ownership of the Isle of Wight on the basis of the discovery of an ancient pipe linking the island to France. The radio station's switchboard received hundreds of calls from listeners taken in by the announcement. Most of them appeared to be in favor of the nationality change because "it would mean cheaper wine, better food, and topless women on the beach."
The Grantham Trader, a small British newspaper, announced that the Grantham city council would spend 150,000 pounds to erect a statue of Margaret Thatcher in the city center. The city council received numerous angry calls as a result of the spoof announcement. The council later complained that the prank had been a waste of time and public money.
British Clocks Back an Hour
John Brunning, a news reader on Invicta Radio in Kent, England, announced that the Meteorological Office had decided to turn the clocks back an hour. The decision had been made in order to avert the arrival of British summer time, which always seemed to bring bad weather.
Loch Ness Monster Discovered
The famous naturalist David Bellamy announced the discovery of gigantic footprints on the shore of Loch Ness, and declared that it had now been proven that the famous monster was a dinosaur. The announcement appeared on numerous children's TV shows and on the front page of the Daily Record. It turned out that the announcement was a public relations campaign orchestrated by Handel Communications to promote a new chocolate biscuit called Dinosaurs.
Grand National Compromised
The Sporting Life, a British magazine, reported that the Grand National steeplechase's most famous obstacles had been removed because of the discovery of rare birds that had nested there and recently hatched eggs.
BMW unveiled a revolutionary new technology that enabled the removal of tire tracks from the ground. It was explained that the technology had been developed by East German military authorities, but could now be used by surreptitious lovers seeking to conceal their tracks from suspicious partners. The spoof announcement was created for BMW by ad agency WCRS.
Text copyright © 2002 Alex Boese