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|
American April Fool's Day Hoaxes
American April Fool's Day Hoaxes
OPEC Free Fuel Offer (2000)An official announcement appeared on the website www.opecinfo.com declaring that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, after 22 hours of emergency negotiations with independent fuel operators, was close to deciding to offer motorists around the world free fill ups on the first Saturday of each month for the next six months. Motorists would simply have to print out and complete an online form which they could then present at any gas station to receive their free fill up. Gas stations would, in turn, submit customer's receipts to OPEC to receive a full reimbursement for their costs. It was anticipated that the free offer would create enormous traffic jams on every Saturday that it applied. Apparently some commuters took the announcement seriously and appeared at gas stations with their completed forms, demanding free gas. It turned out that the OPEC website and announcement was the handiwork of JokeWeb.com, an online humor site. A spokesman for the site claimed that JokeWeb.com would honor the offer and pay all those who had filled out the form $50 worth of gas every Saturday for the next six months.
Miller Lites (2000)Miller Beer announced it had struck an agreement with the town of Marfa, Texas to become the exclusive sponsor of the phenomenon known as the Marfa Mystery Lights. These are spherical lights which appear south of the town each evening, seeming to bounce around in the sky. They're variously rumored to be caused by ghosts, swamp gas, or uranium (though they're probably caused by the headlights from the nearby highway). Miller announced that under the terms of the agreement the Marfa Lights would be renamed the Miller Lites. The local paper, which was in on the joke, printed the news on its front page.
Freewheelz (2000)Esquire introduced its readers to an exciting new company called Freewheelz in an article titled "There Are No Free Wheels." Freewheelz apparently planned to provide drivers with free cars. In exchange, the lucky drivers had to agree both to the placement of large advertisements on the outside of the vehicle and to the streaming of advertisements on the radio inside the car. Prospective drivers also had to submit to a screening process, which required them to submit stool samples and notarized video-store-rental receipts. The article was actually a satire of the much-touted “new economy” spawned by the internet. Attentive readers would have caught on to the joke if they had noticed that Freewheelz’s official rollout on the web was slated to occur on April 1. However, readers who did not notice this barraged the offices of Esquire magazine with phone calls, demanding to know how they could sign up to drive a Stayfresh minivan.
Telepathic E-Mail (1999)Red Herring Magazine ran an article profiling a revolutionary new internet technology called Orecchio (Italian for "ear"). This technology used the TIDE communications protocol (short for "Telepathic Internet Data Exchange") to allow users to compose and send e-mail telepathically. To e-mail telepathically users would wear a device nestled between their ear and skull. The company developing this device was Tidal Wave Communications, led by Yuri Maldini, a computer genius from Estonia. Adding credibility to the story was a reference to some real research at Emory University in which researchers had allowed a paralyzed man to move a cursor across a computer screen by implanting a device in his brain. Mr. Maldini, who had once been employed by the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence, claimed that he had developed the idea for Orecchio from the encrypted communications systems he had put in place during the Gulf War and the conflict in Somalia. Nevertheless, despite the revolutionary potential of telepathic e-mail, skeptics abounded. Clarence Madison, managing partner of New World Associates, was quoted as saying, "I know crap when I see it. This is crap." Ignoring such critics, Mr. Maldini was pressing ahead with his plans to commercialize Orecchio. He even was anticipating future features such as telepathic web browsers and word processors and the ability to receive e-mail telepathically as well as send it.
At the end of the Red Herring article the reporter recalled a moment when he asked Mr. Maldini how big the market for such a product might be: "Mr. Maldini falls silent. He stares vacantly for several moments out his office window and then says, 'I just sent you an email with my answer.' Upon returning to our office, we find the response waiting: 'It's going to be huge,' reads the email. 'Simply huge.'" Red Herring received numerous letters from readers admitting they had been fooled by the article.
Accompanying the ads was a letter from a company called Hoffman York Plc that claimed to be an information-gathering service. Executives were invited to phone the 1-800 number to learn how Hoffman York could obtain information about products that might pose a competitive threat. The material provided was offered as an example. Over 30 people called the number, including three high-level executives. Hoffman York was really an advertising agency. The ads were April Fool's Day publicity stunts.
St. Louis Arena Fund (1999)Rick Sanborn, a deejay for KLOU-FM in St. Louis, revealed to his listeners that a $24 million trust fund had recently been discovered that would be distributed to local residents. The trust fund had supposedly been established by the builder of the local sports Arena in 1929. He had left instructions to distribute the money to locals should the Arena ever be torn down. Since it was torn down in 1999, his order would go into effect. The money would be paid to anyone who held a St. Louis birth certificate issued after 1929. They would receive $1000 for every year of their age. Sanborn included fake reports and interviews along with his announcement. As a result of the prank, the St. Louis Citizens Service Bureau received over 75 calls before Sanborn revealed that the story was a hoax.
Bank Teller Fees (1999)The Savings Bank of Rockville, a small, Connecticut-based bank, placed an ad in the Journal-Inquirer announcing that from that point forward it would be charging a $5 fee to customers who visited a live teller. The ad, which appeared on March 31, claimed that the fee was necessary in order to provide, "professional, caring and superior customer service." Although the ad was a joke, many customers did not perceive it as such. One woman reportedly closed her account at the bank because of it. The bank ran a second ad later revealing that the initial ad was a joke. The bank manager commented that the ad really "commits us to not charging such fees."
Azcot (1999)The Tucson Weekly revealed that the Disney Corporation was planning to build a 150 square-mile theme park in Kokopelli County, Arizona. The park, which would be like a 21st century EPCOT, was code-named Azcot. It would include "a simulated Colorado River adventure, featuring raft-like carts which travel on submerged rails through a 1/4-scale fiberglass replica of the Grand Canyon," as well as "a cliff-dweller city featuring animatronic Anasazi grinding corn and weaving baskets," and Duckville, "a frontier town so expansive that if it were real, it would be the seventh largest city in Arizona, complete with covered-wagon monorail and a complex municipal stagecoach system." Lawyers for Disney had supposedly tried to suppress publication of the article before the Tucson Weekly went to print with the scoop.
Arm the Homeless (1999)The Phoenix New Times ran a story announcing the formation of an unusual new charity to benefit the homeless. Instead of providing the homeless with food and shelter, this charity would provide them with guns and ammunition. It was named 'The Arm the Homeless Coalition.' The story received coverage from 60 Minutes II, the Associated Press, and numerous local radio stations before the media realized the article was a hoax. The Phoenix New Times's joke was actually a reprise of a 1993 prank perpetrated by students at Ohio State University.
A press release issued over Business Wire announced the creation of Webnode, a new company recently granted a government contract to regulate ownership of "nodes" on the Next Generation Internet (NGI). Each of these nodes (there were said to be over 50 million of them) represented a route that data could travel over the NGI. The company was licensed to sell each node for $100. Nodes would increase in value depending on how much traffic they routed. Owners would also receive usage fees for the data that flowed across their section of the internet. However, only individuals could own nodes, and no person could own more than 1,000 nodes. This limit was supposedly made in order to avoid monopolization of the internet by large corporations.
Although Webnode was not yet a publicly trade company, the press release declared that shares in the company could be reserved for later purchase, although no payment would currently be accepted. Because the Next Generation Internet was a real government project, many were led to believe that Webnode was also real (which, of course, it wasn't). Business Wire, however, didn't find the prank amusing. It sued the creators of the press release.
South Park Bait and Switch (1998)
The animated Comedy Central series South Park had been heavily promoting that on the April 1 season premiere of the second season of the show, it would reveal the identity of the father of a character Cartman, thus resolving the cliffhanger it had left viewers with the season before. The April 1 show began as normal, with clips shown from previous episodes, but then a message flashed on the screen stating it had all been an April Fool's joke. Nothing was going to be revealed. Instead the episode focused on the completely unrelated adventures of the flatulent characters Terrance and Philip. Fans of the series were irate. Comedy Central received over 1500 angry emails. A spokesman admitted that the fans "got the joke... they just didn't like it." Fans had to wait until April 22 before the identity of Cartman's father actually was revealed.
Nat Tate (1998)On the eve of April Fool's Day, a lavish party was held at Jeff Koons's New York studio to honor the memory of the late, great American artist Nat Tate — a troubled abstract expressionist who destroyed 99 percent of his own work before leaping to his death from the Staten Island ferry. At the party, David Bowie read aloud selections from William Boyd's soon-to-be released biography of Tate, Nat Tate: An American Artist, 1928-1960. Critics in the crowd murmured appreciative comments about Tate's work as they sipped their drinks. What they didn't know is that Tate had never existed. He was the satirical creation of William Boyd. Bowie, Boyd, and Boyd's publisher were the only ones in on the joke.
MITkey Mouse (1998)
The homepage of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology displayed some startling news: the prestigious university was to be sold to the Walt Disney Co. for $6.9 billion. A photograph of the university's famous dome outfitted with a pair of mouse ears accompanied the news.
A press release explained that the university was to be dismantled and transported to Orlando where new schools would be added to the campus including the School of Imagineering, the Scrooge McDuck School of Management, and the Donald Duck Department of Linguistics. The fact that the announcement appeared on MIT's homepage lent credibility to it. But in reality, the announcement was the work of students who had hacked into the school's central server and replaced the school's real web page with a phony one.