The Museum of Hoaxes
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The April Fool's Day "Stupid Law" Hoax
Tail Lights for Horses. (1961)
Milan's La Notte newspaper reported that city authorities had passed a law making it mandatory for horses to be outfitted with signaling and brake lights while being ridden through the streets or neighboring countryside. Many people subsequently brought their horses into car mechanics to have them outfitted with the necessary lights. More…
Dogs to be painted white. (1965)
Politiken, a Copenhagen newspaper, reported that the Danish parliament had passed a new law requiring all dogs to be painted white. The purpose of this, it explained, was to increase road safety by allowing dogs to be seen more easily at night. [Appleton Post-Crescent, Apr 1, 1965.] More…

Europeans To Drive On Left Side. (1971)
French state-run radio announced that European motorists would soon be required to drive on the left side of the road, in order to help British drivers when they joined the Common Market. Almost immediately the radio station began receiving hundreds of phone calls from enraged French motorists. As a result, the station quickly confessed that the story was a hoax.

Families limited to .75 children. (1985)
The Rivereast News Bulletin (Glastonbury, Connecticut) announced that the city's Board of Education had devised a plan to eliminate overcrowding in classrooms. The plan was to forbid families from having more than .75 children per household for the next 15 years. The Board of Education admitted that it had not yet figured out how families could limit themselves to .75 children, but that a computer had determined that this was the ideal number. It was suggested that families unhappy with this ruling move to California. The Board added that the new ruling would not become law for another ten months. Therefore, parents who wanted more than .75 children were urged to "get started this afternoon." More…

Joggers Slow Down To Help Squirrels. (1993)
Cologne radio station Westdeutsche Rundfunk announced that city officals had decreed that joggers could only run at a maximum speed of six miles per hour through the city's parks. Any faster, it was said, and they would inconvenience the squirrels who were in the middle of their mating season. More…
Drunk Driving on the Internet. (1994)
In an article in PC Computing magazine, John Dvorak described a bill (# 040194) going through Congress that would make it illegal to use the internet while drunk, or to discuss sexual matters over a public network. The FBI was planning to use the bill to tap the phone line of anyone who "uses or abuses alcohol" while accessing the internet. Passage of the bill was felt to be certain because "Who wants to come out and support drunkenness and computer sex?" Dvorak offered this explanation for the origin of the bill: "The moniker 'Information Highway' itself seems to be responsible for SB 040194, which is designed to prohibit anyone from using a public computer network (Information Highway) More…
No-Hole Polo Mints. (1995)
Polo Mints announced that "in accordance with EEC Council Regulation (EC) 631/95" they would no longer be producing mints with holes. This regulation required all "producers of tubular foodstuffs... to delete holes from their products." In the future, a "EURO-CONVERSION KIT" would be included with all tubes of Polo mints. These kits would contain twenty 7mm "Hole Fillers" to be placed in the Polo mint. A "detailed instruction leaflet" would also be included. More…
Alabama Changes the Value of Pi. (1998)
The April 1998 issue of the New Mexicans for Science and Reason newsletter contained an article claiming that the Alabama state legislature had voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi from 3.14159 to the 'Biblical value' of 3.0. Before long the article had made its way onto the internet, and then it rapidly made its way around the world, forwarded by people in their email. It only became apparent how far the article had spread when the Alabama legislature began receiving hundreds of calls from people protesting the legislation. The original article, which was intended as a parody of legislative attempts to circumscribe the teaching of evolution, was written by physicist More…
Supreme Court Dress Code. (2001)
A special edition of the Denver Bar Association's newsletter, The Docket, described a new dress code adopted by the Colorado Supreme Court. Male attorneys would be required to wear blue blazers with a Colorado state seal displayed on the pocket, while female lawyers would have to wear plaid skirts. The Docket received five calls from lawyers concerned about this new dress code. More…
Royalty Fees for Impersonations. (2001)
The London Sunday Telegraph reported that a new European law would grant individuals the right to own their voice and distinctive mannerisms. As a consequence, comedians and impressionists would be forced to pay royalties to those they imitated. Politicians, actors, and other public figures who are frequently imitated by satirists could therefore begin to receive substantial payments in addition to their regular income. Impressionists anticipated that the ruling would present a serious challenge to their livelihood. The ruling apparently arose from a case involving a French singer, Yves Gainsbourg, who claimed that other entertainers were profiting by imitating his idiosyncratic stage More…

Federally Funded Health Care for Pets. (2002)
NPR's All Things Considered reported that the Bush administration had proposed extending universal health care to pets. The measure was designed to assist all animals, including "Your dog, your cat, your iguana, your great komodo dragon." However, the proposal was meeting with opposition. James Cardigan, spokesman for the group People Are People Too, feared the government could get tangled in massive legal liability by letting nature simply take its course. For example, "what if a hamster covered by federal health care is eaten by a snake also covered by the federal government?" Universal pet health care was estimated to cost $345-trillion. More…
Chips Banned From UK Schools. (2003)
The BBC reported that school-lunch authorities in the UK had banned chips (french fries) from school canteens: "They reckon the fave food is unhealthy, so have decided kids won't be able to eat it any more - you'll all have to eat lumpy mash instead! Government food expert Professor Steve P.U. Denton said that although they knew the decision would be unpopular, they were making it so kids would be healthier. He added: 'We're very sorry that we have to do this, but kids spend so much time playing computer games now we have to help them keep fit another way.' The head of the UK Chip Authority, Fry Smith has slammed the move, saying he couldn't understand why chips have come in for special
European Committee Bans Single-Shelled Eggs. (2003)
The European Committee issued a communique in which it declared that it was banning single-shelled eggs, in order to prevent cracked eggs being found in food stores. The ban was a play on the French word "coque" which means both egg shell and ship's hull. More…

Yum Cha Carts Regulated. (2004)
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that new legislation had been proposed that would require operators of yum cha trolley carts (as seen in Chinese restaurants) to obtain a license. The legislation had been proposed due to "dangerous trolley usage in yum-cha eateries." An expert noted: "There's been a lot of problem with dumpling accidents particularly. Dumplings retain their heat for quite some time. You get one of those in your lap and it can be extremely painful." Under the new rules, operators of the food carts would first have to complete an instructional course, and then would "carry a small 'L' plate on their carts for six months before being granted full licences." More…
Theater-goers Weighed. (2004)
New Zealand's Southland Times reported that all those attending the Invercargill Civic Theatre would be required to first weigh-in if they wanted to sit upstairs, due to concerns about the ability of the second level to support heavy weight: "'Luckily, Southlanders seem relatively slim and it could be an incentive for some people, including myself, to watch what we eat,' [Mayor Boniface] said. Anyone more than 75kg who wanted to sit upstairs would have to buy two seats, he said. 'However, if you're a man with a petite wife or girlfriend, you might be able to get away with it.' Telephone bookings would still be accepted but customers would have to declare their weight and would be weighed at the theatre." More…

BMW Uninvents the Wheel. (2005)
BMW warned that by the end of 2007 right-hand drive cars would be banned throughout mainland Europe. In response, their engineers had developed "hands-free steering" that used "a combination of sensors and VAT (Voice Activated Technology)" in order to do away with the steering wheel. "All the dials and controls are mounted in the centre of the dash on a pivoting section which can be angled towards either of the front seats..." However, it cautioned: "Early prototypes were prone to sudden U-turns if the driver swung round to shout at the children in the back." More…
Ring-Tone Rage. (2007)
National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Sunday reported that New York City Democratic councilman David Yassky had called for a ban on obnoxious ring tones. The councilman claimed that objectionable ring tones were costing the economy upwards of $1.2 billion and were the cause of numerous fights induced by "ring-tone rage." As of April 1, 2008, NPR reported, cell phone users would be restricted to four city-approved ring tones. More…
Sweden to Phase out Å, Ä and Ö. (2007)
Sweden's English-language paper, The Local, reported that in the interests of globalization and technological competitiveness Sweden's government was considering banning "complex letters" such as Å, Ä and Ö. Å would be replaced by AA, Ä by AE and Ö by OE. The Centre Party's Åsa Bäckström was quoted as saying, "Language is constantly changing and we must be prepared to meet the linguistic challenges of the modern world. Communication barriers are a hindrance to competitiveness, so we should do whatever we can - within reason - to eliminate them." However, the move was resisted by many, including the town council of Båstad, whose spokesman More…
Land Rover’s Self-Levelling Tax Disc Holder. (2011)
Land Rover noted that new legislation required that a vehicle's tax disc "must be displayed within parameters that do not exceed 10 degrees". This legislation had been introduced because of Traffic Enforcement officers who were suffering from Repetitive Neck Strain (RNS) from looking at sharply angled tax discs all day. In order to make sure all Land Rover owners complied with the law, Land Rover had developed a "self-levelling tax disc holder" that always kept the tax disc at the legally required angle. The holder employed "Contra-Motion technology" to achieve this. More…
The Yorkshire Savoury. (2013)
The Yorkshire Times reported that a new "EU Labelling Directive" mandated accurate descriptions on all food products, including "an indication of whether the product is a sweet or savoury item." It would be illegal to use misleading terms such as "pudding" on a savoury product. For this reason, the term "Yorkshire Pudding" would be banned. The regional delicacy would henceforth be described as a "Yorkshire Savoury." The legislation was facing stiff resistance from Yorkshire chefs and restaurateurs, but the Times warned that "EU legislators are unlikely to be swayed."
Super Hot Chillies Banned. (2013)
Chilefoundry.com warned that the federal government was planning to classify Capsaicin (the component of chili peppers that gives them their heat) as a controlled substance. Seeds of any chili pepper capable of producing 1 millions SHUs (Scoville Scale heat units) would become illegal. The government made this decision after noting that after eating extremely hot sauces, people frequently talked about feeling a "high" afterwards. More…
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