April Fool's Day Content
April Fool's Day Content
April Fool Categories
April Fool: Recurring Pranks
April Fool: Regions
April Fool: Perpetrators
April Fool's Day Archive, Contents:
|Before 1900:||Origin of April Fool's Day | 1700-1799 | 1800-1899|
|Early 1900s:||1900 | 1901 | 1915 | 1919 | 1920 | 1923 | 1925|
|1930s & 40s:||1933 | 1934 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1940 | 1949|
|1950s & 60s:||1950 | 1957 | 1959 | 1960 | 1962 | 1965 | 1969|
|1970s:||1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979|
|1980s:||1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989|
|1990s:||1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999|
|2000s:||2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009|
|2010s:||2010 | 2011|
Hawaiian Flying Saucer (1950)
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin published a picture and article about a flying saucer that had supposedly crashed into a mountain on the island of Hawaii. The joke unintentionally took in victims thousands of miles away when a local ham radio operator, believing the news report to be real, broadcast a description of the flying-saucer crash. An amateur radioman in Michigan heard the broadcast and reported it to his local paper, the Herald-Press. The Herald-Press only realized the report was an April Fool's Day joke after it queried the AP, who in turn queried their office in Hawaii. [The Herald-Press (St. Joseph, Michigan), Apr 4, 1950.]
Pennsylvania Flying Saucer (1950)The Progress (Clearfield, Pennsylvania) published a picture of a flying saucer, supposedly hovering over the business section of Clearfield. The photo caption read, "Scoring an unquestioned scoop on the other newspapers of the nation, Life, and Look magazines and other pictorial publications, The Progress proudly presents today the first published picture of a 'flying saucer' in the air."
Flying Bus (1950)
International Soundphoto distributed a photo of a flying bus swooping over the Place de la Concorde in Paris, France. The photo ran in many papers, accompanied by the caption: "Well, Well, look how all those Parisians are being missed by the bus at Place de la Concorde. Anything can happen in the French capital on April Fool's day, they say, but it is suspected that some zany darkroom jokester had something to do with this." [Newsweek - Apr 10, 1950.]
Stranded Steamer (1938)North Carolina's Twin City Sentinel ran a story on its front page claiming that "a long sleek transatlantic steamer," the S.S. Santa Pinta, had "plowed through the muddy waters of Yadkin River and anchored ten miles west of Winston-Salem." An accompanying photo showed the stranded steamer. Hundreds of people (who hadn't read to the end of the article to see the phrase "An April Fool's Dream!") decided to drive out to see the steamer, resulting in a traffic jam on the highway. [Winston-Salem Journal, Apr 1, 2009]
Stealing the Alamo (1936)The San Antonio Light revealed that a plot to move the Alamo from San Antonio to Dallas had been foiled at the last minute:
Philadelphia Sea Monster (1936)The Philadelphia Record ran a picture titled, "Deep Sea Monster Visits Philadelphia." Although modern viewers have little difficulty in spotting the picture as a fake, it fooled many of the Record's readers.
Vikings in Hawaii (1936)The Honolulu Star-Bulletin ran a story about the discovery of a Viking ship in Hawaii, accompanied by a picture of the ship. The story played on the popular belief that early Viking explorers landed in America and traveled as far west as Minnesota. However, it is doubtful they ever went as far as Hawaii.
Man Flies By Own Lung Power (1934)In April 1934, numerous U.S. newspapers printed a photograph distributed by the International News Photo agency showing a man flying through the air by means of his own lung power. The man was identified as German pilot Erich Kocher. Captions accompanying the photo explained that Kocher was wearing a device strapped to his chest which consisted of a box and two horizontal rotors. By blowing into the box, he could make the rotors revolve. This created enough suction in front of him to propel him through the air. He also wore skis on his feet as landing gear, and a fin on his back to steer himself.
Among the papers that printed this photo as an authentic piece of news were the New York Daily News (which, at that time, had the largest circulation in the U.S.), the New York American, the Daily Mirror, and the Chicago Herald & Examiner,
Even the prestigious New York Times ran the photo on April 15, 1934 in its Rotogravure Picture Section, placing the following caption beneath it:
A man flies on his own power for the first time in history: Erich Kocher, wearing a safety costume and blowing into a box to make two rotors revolve, soars from a runway into the air near Berlin. A tail skid attached to his waist steadies him in the air and skis on his feet act as landing gear.
Some papers also ran a second smaller photo as an insert, showing Kocher operating the "lung-power motor."
The Daily Independent, Monessen, Pa. (April 13, 1934)
The TruthWhat the American papers didn't realize was that the original source of the photo was the April Fool's Day edition of a German magazine, the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung. International News Photo had distributed the photo to its American subscribers without identifying the photo as a joke.
International News Photo also confused details of the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung's original article. In the original, it wasn't the force of Kocher's breath that caused the rotors to turn. Instead, the pilot breathed normally into the box, triggering a chemical reaction that extracted the carbon dioxide from his breath and used it to power a small motor. The fact that carbon dioxide is not very combustible and thus would make a terrible fuel was part of the joke. International News Photo also misspelled the pilot's name. In the original it was Erich Koycher, which was a pun on the German word "keuchen" meaning to wheeze or gasp for breath.
The accompanying article reported that "Wisconsin's beautiful $8 million capitol was in ruins today, following a series of mysterious explosions which blasted the majestic dome from its base." The explosions were said to have begun at 7:30 AM, followed by smaller blasts that "sent showers of granite chips down upon the heads of pedestrians." Three large blasts finally finished off the dome, though luckily no one was seriously hurt. The article added, "Authorities were considering the possibility that large quantities of gas, generated through many weeks of verbose debate in the Senate and Assembly chambers, had in some way been ignited, causing the first blast." Hot air that had found its way into other rooms caused the following blasts.
Despite the fact that the story concluded with the words "April Fool," many readers were upset. One reader wrote to the editor, "I was filled with indignation over your April Fool joke on the front page of the Capital-Times of April 1. There is such a thing as carrying a joke too far and this one was not only tactless and void of humor, but also a hideous jest."
The photo and story were the work of photographer-reporter Cedric Parker. In 1985 The Science Digest named this one of the world's best hoaxes.
Perate hand-wrote a reply, thanking "Madame de Mesnil-Heurteloup" for her gift, but questioning whether the relic was worthy of a place in the palace. He asked if the measure was mounted in leather and bore the Pompadour arms. He concluded by suggesting that she bring the measure to Versailles to allow him to judge its value.
Merle Blanc gleefully reproduced a facsimile of his reply, noting that the learned curator had failed to realize that Mme. Pompadour died thirty years before the metric system was invented. They suggested that they might seek space in French museums "for Napoleon's automobile, a bracelet worn by the Venus de Milo, and an eyeglass belonging to Victory of Samothrace." [The New York Times, Apr 12, 1925.]
Archaeologist Howard Carter, shown in the picture below, had recently — on Feb. 16, 1923 — opened the burial chamber of Tutankhamen.
Atmospheric Energy Harnessed (1923)The Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung reported that a Russian scientist, Professor Figu Posakoff, had discovered a method of "harnessing the latent energy of the atmosphere," the energy displayed in thunderstorms and other atmospheric catastrophes. Harnessing this energy would allow the Soviets to hurl objects "of any weight almost unlimited distances."
The prospects opened by the new invention are of incalculable importance and certainly surpass by far the discovery of steam and electric power. This discovery was the reason for the military blockade of Uralsk and vicinity while for weeks the experiments proceeded with astounding results, which extended far into the Caspian plain and Siberia, the details of which are being kept strictly secret.
The Soviets were said to have promised to use this discovery only for peaceful purposes. However the Allgemeine Zeitung noted that it would certainly give the nation a powerful advantage in warfare.
The New York Times ran the story on its front page on April 3, having failed to realize that it was a joke.
Brandenburg Gate Photo (1919)
Hundreds of people, mostly shop girls and women, gathered in front of the Brandenburg gate in Berlin, drawn there by an announcement placed in Berlin papers the night before stating that a motion picture camera was going to take a picture in front of the gate at noon, and that everybody who was in front of the gate would be in the picture. The announcement was a prank perpetrated by a night worker at the papers. The Chicago Tribune foreign news service reported: "Some people stood there for hours before they realized that this was the first day of April, known in Germany as in the United States as April Fools' day." [Chicago Daily Tribune, Apr 5, 1919.]
The Boston Globe Price Cut (1915)Readers of the Boston Morning Globe could have purchased their papers for half the cost on April Fool's Day, if they had been alert. The price listed on the front page had been lowered from "Two Cents Per Copy" to "One Cent." But almost 60,000 copies of the paper were sold before anyone noticed the unannounced price change. When the management of the Globe found out about the change, they were just as surprised as everyone else. The new price turned out to be the responsibility of a mischievous production worker who had surreptitiously inserted the lower value at the last minute as the paper went to print.
The creature was said to have the body of a bear, but it stood upright like a man and had a human face. The Union provided a graphic account of its death: "Cox, who is a wonderful shot with a rifle, brought his weapon to his shoulder and fired. With a cry like that of a human being the beast instantly fell in a hideous heap across a boulder that it was in the act of scaling." Then the hunters discovered the creature's lair where the bones of its human victims lay piled in a heap.
The article theorized that the animal was the result of a cross between a man and some kind of carnivorous beast. It said that the hunters planned to bring the body to San Diego for public exhibit within a few days.
The article caused a minor sensation in San Diego, and many people inquired where the creature would be displayed. Of course, there was no monster of Deadman's Hole, outside of the imagination of the Union's staff.