The Museum of Hoaxes
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April Fool's Day Romance
Desperate Hubby. (1920)
Harry Shapiro was desperate because his wife threatened to leave him. He grabbed a bottle labeled "poison" and dramatically declared "stay with me or I die." When Mrs. Shapiro laughed uproariously, Harry smelt the bottle's contents and discovered he had fallen for an "April Fool" joke. [Appleton Post-Crescent, Apr 1, 1920.] (How did Mrs. Shapiro know hubby would threaten to drink poison? Had he done this before? Why was this reported as a joke?) More…
Strict Reno Divorce Law. (1931)
April fool story distributed by NEA to its subscribers: "A strict blue law regime went into effect throughout the state today with passage of the new divorce laws which require 20 years residence prior to application for divorce. Reno business men agreed that $5,000,000 a year was nothing as compared to a peaceful and quiet atmosphere. Aspiring divorcees will just have to wait until 1951, that's all." More…
All Bottled Up. (1944)
"Evelyn Parent decided that to keep a man in these times one must take drastic steps, so she promptly sprayed her choice with a reducing fluid and bottled him up. How did she get him in there?? Maybe she has the old sea captain's secret of putting the ship in the bottle. Or it is just possible that this is all the photographer's idea of an APRIL FOOL joke." [Lewiston Evening Journal - Apr 1, 1944] More…
April Fool Wedding. (1978)
Adrian Fisher and Charles Gutierrez of Chicago invited 25 of their closest friends to their April 1st wedding. But at the champagne reception following the ceremony, everyone was handed an envelope that contained the following poem: "We don't want you to forget the date. It's April First, 1978. Now that the wedding knot has been tied, we have to tell you we have lied. Don't be angry, don't be mad, we hate to say it but you've been had. We meant no harm, so keep it cool, we hate to say it, but April Fool!" The couple said their motive for staging the fake wedding was to "teach our dear friends a lesson not to gossip and spread rumors." Their friends had been spreading the rumor that the two More…
Thatcher-Gorbachev Romance. (1987)
The Daily Mirror broke the news of a romance blossoming between Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev, during Thatcher's tour of the Soviet Union. It accompanied this revelation with photos of the two world leaders sitting together in Moscow's Gorky Park, with Thatcher tenderly tickling Gorbachev under his chin, as well as the two walking arm in arm, and even sneaking a kiss. The photos were posed by lookalikes, but they succeeded in fooling many. People were particularly shocked that Thatcher, a married woman, would act like that in public. In real life, when Thatcher left Moscow on April 2nd she told members of the press that she and Gorbachev "got on very well, considering that we are More…
Lusthansa. (1996)
The German newspaper Die Welt reported that Lufthansa airline would soon be offering its flyers an in-flight matchmaking service. Passengers who opted-in to the service would be seated next to someone who had been selected as a potential romantic partner. One outraged feminist was quoted as saying that Lufthansa should rename itself "Lust-hansa." More…

Playboy’s Wife-Beating Advice. (2000)
The Romanian edition of Playboy published an article titled "How to beat your wife without leaving a trace." Written from the point of view of a policeman, it offered a step-by-step guide to concealable abuse, suggesting that abuse could lead to a better sex life. Deputy editor Mihai Galatanu later insisted the article had been an April Fool's joke, and that the abuse methods described "cannot work." Nevertheless, the article generated widespread condemnation. Women marched through central Bucharest in protest. Playboy Enterprises chairman Christie Hefner soon issued an apology and reprimanded the Romanian chief editor. More…
TomoToday—Instant Virtual Friends. (2009)
The Japan Times profiled a new social-networking service called TomoToday that would provide people with instant virtual friends, recruited from the ranks of unemployed temp workers. The service complemented sites such as Facebook by providing "a short cut to a substantial social-media presence." "TomoToday subscribers will be able to choose from strategically selected sets of virtual friends, dubbed 'InstaNakama,' tailor-made to nurture the user's desired online identity. Say you're a shy young man, in need of pointers and ice-breaking intros. The Wingumen are at your service... Other readymade TomoToday circles include: Jetto Setto (multilingual friends from all over the globe); OB-Gun More…
Playboy Invests in Rotorua. (2009)
The tourism board of Rotorua, New Zealand (a town famous for having a rotten egg smell caused by sulphur released from hot springs) ran full-page ads in The New Zealand Herald and The Dominion Post noting that scientists from Italy's University of Naples had recently discovered a positive link between the town's smell and male sexual arousal. This was true. But the ads went on to claim that, as a result, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner had decided to invest in Rotorua by converting the Rotorua Museum into his Holiday Mansion. Although some locals were unhappy, the long-term tourism benefits were expected to be huge. More…
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.