The Museum of Hoaxes
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April Fool's Day Hoaxes Intended as Social Critiques
Critics of Catholicism receive Catholic medal. (1925)
The French government received a message from Athens, Greece, sent via official channels, announcing that three prominent Parisian critics of Catholicism had been awarded the Order of the Redeemer, the highest decoration awarded by the Greek government. The decoration is considered a high honor among Catholics, since it symbolizes the rebirth of the Greek nation through divine assistance. The three men who supposedly had been awarded the medal were M. Ferdinand Buisson and M. Aulard of the Sorbonne, and M. Victor Basch of the University of Paris. In reality, the decorations had been conferred on less controversial figures. It was not known who had found a way to use the Greek government to More…
Our Boys Come Home. (1972)
Larry McCormick took to the streets of downtown St. Louis selling an April Fool newspaper announcing that the war in Vietnam was ending. "Our Boys Come Home -- All GIs Out of Vietnam." Other headlines in the paper included, "I was wrong says Nixon," and "Gen. Westmoreland indicted for war crimes." More…
The Rich People’s Liberation Front. (1991)
A group calling itself the Rich People's Liberation Front held a rally in front of the State House in Boston. The group hailed the "Brahminwealth of Massachusetts" and chanted slogans such as, "Who needs day care —hire an au pair" and "the rich. . . united. . . have never been defeated." The group was supposedly rallying in support of Governor Weld's decision to veto a cut in Cabinet salaries as well as his decision to repeal a tax on services and cut local aid and social programs. More…
PhDs Exempt From China’s One-Child Policy. (1993)
The China Youth Daily, an official state newspaper of China, announced on its front page that the government had decided to make Ph.D. holders exempt from the state-imposed one-child limit. The logic behind this decision was that it would eventually reduce the need to invite as many foreign experts into the country to help with the state's modernization effort. Despite a disclaimer beneath the story identifying it as a joke, the report was repeated as fact by Hong Kong's New Evening News and by Agence France-Presse, an international news agency. What made the hoax seem credible to many was that intellectuals in Singapore were encouraged to marry each other and have children, and China's leaders were known to have great respect for the Singapore system. The Chinese government responded to the hoax by condemning April Fool's Day as a dangerous Western tradition. The Guangming Daily, Beijing's main newspaper for intellectuals, ran an editorial stating that April Fool's jokes "are an More…

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. More…
15th Annual New York City April Fool’s Day Parade. (2000)
A news release sent to the media stated that the 15th annual New York City April Fool's Day Parade was scheduled to begin at noon on 59th Street and would proceed down to Fifth Avenue. According to the news release, floats in the parade would include a "Beat 'em, Bust ';em, Book 'em" float created by the New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle police departments. This float would portray “themes of brutality, corruption and incompetence.“ A “Where’s Mars?“ float, reportedly built at a cost of $10 billion, would portray missed Mars missions. Finally, the “Atlanta Braves Baseball Tribute to Racism” float would feature John Rocker who would be “spewing racial epithets at the crowd.“ CNN and the Fox affiliate WNYW sent television news crews to cover the parade. They arrived at 59th Street at noon only to discover that there was no parade. The police informed them that they had received no notification of a parade. Reluctantly, the reporters More…

PETA’s Tournament of Sleeping Fish. (2000)
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) warned that it planned to sabotage the bass fishing tournament in East Texas's Lake Palestine by releasing tranquilizers into the lake before the tournament. Their announcement stated that "this year, the fish will be napping, not nibbling." State officials took the threat seriously and stationed rangers around the lake in order to stop any tranquilizer-toting PETA activists from drugging the fish, and numerous newspapers reported the threat. Eventually PETA admitted that it had been joking. More…

Free Childcare at Political Offices. (2009)
An advertisement that appeared on page five of the Australian newspaper claimed that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had volunteered the use of the electorate offices as a child-minding service: "Each MP's electorate office will today be accepting newborns for a free child minding service. This is another example of Labor's commitment to working families." The advocacy group Get Up later claimed responsibility for the ad. More…
Mannequins for Climate Justice. (2009)
On March 31, a mannequin was found chained to the doors of a Bank of America branch in Boston. The mannequin wore a sign, "The real dummies evict people & fund climate chaos." A group calling itself Mannequins for Climate Justice took responsibility, saying it was getting a head start on Fossil Fools Day, an initiative to use April 1st as a day to mock and resist the fossil fuel industry. More…
Cyclone Dairy. (2009)
The website of Cyclone Dairy appeared online in late March 2009, purporting to represent "the first dairy brand to offer great-tasting products made exclusively from cloned cows." The smiling family featured on the site's front page included a young boy missing his front teeth. On April 1st, ice cream-maker Ben & Jerry's revealed it had created the site, hoping to raise "consumer awareness of the government's recent approval of cloned milk and meat within the human food supply chain." More…
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Media Organizations and Corporations with April Fool Traditions
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