The Museum of Hoaxes
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American April Fool's Day Hoaxes
The Great Cave Sell. (circa 1845)
On an undetermined April 1 in the 1840s, a story appeared in the Boston Post announcing that a cave full of treasure had been discovered beneath Boston Common. It had supposedly been uncovered by workmen as they removed a tree from the Common. As the tree fell, it revealed a stone trap-door with a large iron ring set in it. Beneath the door was a stone stairway that led to an underground cave. In this cave lay piles of jewels, old coins, and weapons with jeweled handles. As word of the discovery spread throughout Boston, parties of excited curiosity-seekers marched out across the Common to view the treasure. A witness later described the scene: "It was rainy, that 1st of April, the More…
The Brick in the Hat Trick. (1854)
"Did anybody ever see one pass by an old hat on the sidewalk, without giving it a kick? We do not believe such a thing ever happened." [Albany Register, Jun 10, 1854] More…
Gymnast To Ascend Church Steeple. (1858)
A notice ran in Chicago papers advertising that on April 1st, at one o'clock, a "famous gymnast" would ascend the steeple of St. Paul's Church from the outside "and stand upright on the summit, returning the same way to the ground — all to be accomplished in the space of twenty minutes." At the time appointed, a crowd of over 300 people gathered, including reporters, pencils in hand. But as the hours wore on, the truth gradually stole over the minds of the sightseers that it was "All fools day," and "the crowd suddenly discovered it was time to go to dinner, which they did with a rush." [Weekly Hawk-Eye (Burlington, Iowa) — Apr 20, 1858] More…
Edison’s Food Machine. (1878)
After Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, Americans were sure there was no limit to his genius. So when the New York Graphic announced on April 1, 1878 that Edison had invented a machine capable of transforming soil directly into cereal and water directly into wine, thereby ending the problem of world hunger, it found a willing audience of believers. Newspapers throughout America copied the article and heaped lavish praise on Edison. The conservative Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, in particular, waxed eloquent about Edison's genius in an editorial that dwelled upon the good fortune of a man like Edison having been born in the progressive nineteenth century when his genius could More…
The Monster of Deadman’s Hole. (1888)
The San Diego Union reported that two hunters had killed a bizarre, half-human half-animal beast in an out-of-the-way location called Deadman's Hole northwest of San Diego. The creature was said to have the body of a bear, but stood upright like a man and had a human face. The hunters were reportedly bringing the body into the city for public exhibit. The next day the paper boasted, "throughout the day the police station was visited by a number of persons who were anxious to view the body of the strange being that was reported killed. They were told to come in next April Fool's day and see it." More…
April Fool Cigars. (1896)
"All Fools' Day was not unremembered yesterday, although the practical jokes incidental to it are not as much relished or looked forward to in America as in England and France. Street hawkers did a lively trade downtown in so-called April Fool cigars, which were offered at 5 cents each and were said to be explosive. Some of the Custom House clerks laid in a stock of them, which they presented to brokers. To the amazement and disgust of the buyers, who expected the cigars to go off like firecrackers when they were well started, they smoked quite as comfortably to the end as was to be expected of cigars at that price, fooling the foolers completely. Chocolate stuffed with cotton was More…
Sweating Silver Vault. (1896)
Hundreds of people gathered outside the New York Sub-Treasury vault, located on Pine Street, lured there by a rumor that the vault was "sweating" because of the warm weather, causing the silver contained inside it to exude through the marble walls. Specks of mica were pointed out in the walls to prove the theory. [New York Times, Apr 2, 1896.] More…
Dentist summoned to cemetery. (1896)
"There was the usual number of April fool jokes sprung yesterday, and the young dentist who went over on West Main street as far as the cemetery to do some work, in response to a bogus call, returned fully convinced that the fool business was being overdone." [The North Adams Daily Transcript, Apr 2, 1896.] More…
Man regrets scaring wife. (1896)
"Near Nashville yesterday John Ahrens, a farmer, planned an April fool joke on his wife with disastrous results. He disguised himself as a tramp, fastened a white mask over his face, and knocked at the door. When she appeared he ordered her to get dinner for him. To his horror his wife fell to the floor in a faint and died an hour later. Ahrens has been married only a few months and idolized his wife. Her death has crazed him with grief and remorse, and he threatens to take his own life." [Des Moines Daily News, Apr 3, 1896.] More…
School Quarantined. (1901)
Pranksters placed a yellow quarantine sign outside the Central school building in Waterloo, Iowa: The quarantine signal was placed in the most conspicuous place on the building. The lads who are responsible for the misdemeanor probably thought it would be a great joke and possibly be the means of permitting them to a holiday... The teachers and high school scholars entered the building at the main entrance, but did not go into the room just back of the sign until assured that there was no danger. It was only a short time until the news that the west side Central building was quarantined spread pretty well over the town and Mr. Hukill and Mrs. Couch, who use the high school room, were kept More…
Do Not Kick!. (1915)
A prankster placed a hat on Philadelphia's Girard Avenue. On the front of the hat he pinned a note that read, "Do not kick. Brick inside." Raymond Perrott, a University of Pennsylvania student, saw the hat while walking along with a friend. Reportedly, he said to his companion, "Huh, that's a joke within a joke; watch me wallop that hat." He gave the hat a strong kick, then fell to the ground, crying out in pain. The hat flew away, revealing a brick. Perrott was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital with a broken right toe. [Trenton Evening Times, Apr 2, 1915.] More…
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. More…

Candy Surprise. (1915)
Chow Lamb, a Chinese-born laundryman, bought some candy at the confectionery store of James Constantino. Unfortunately, Mr. Lamb did not read English. Therefore he did not understand the sign beside the candy that said, "April Fool Candy—Fool a Friend." The candies were cotton balls dipped in chocolate. After consuming two of them, he became very sick. He later filed charges against Mr. Constantino, under section 7, chapter 38 of the criminal code, which prohibits the sale of confections adulterated with a substance injurious to health. The outcome of his lawsuit was not reported. [Chicago Daily Tribune, Apr 1, 1915.] More…
Fatal Shooting. (1915)
James Pooley, a bartender in Evansville, Indiana, shot and killed Frank Stein, a saloon porter. Pooley claimed he thought the gun was unloaded and was playing an April Fool joke on Stein. Walter Schmidel, owner of the saloon, later admitted that he had removed an old weapon that had been behind the bar and had replaced it with a loaded revolver. [The Indianapolis Star, Apr 2, 1915.] More…
No Fool Like an April Fool. (1915)
• Scoop - knock me out about a colyum april fool story - sumpin' new an' funny! • Scoop's copy: Here's a new and funny april fool story. (One col of blank space) • Aw nix now boss, have uh heart! More…
Compressed Air. (1915)
In what appeared to be an April Fool's prank gone badly wrong, Harry Zahrichs of Lackawanna, New York had to be rushed to the hospital after his fellow workmen injected compressed air into his body, tearing and dislodging some of his internal organs. [Trenton Evening Times, Apr 2, 1915.] More…
Tony Maloney, aka Babe Webster. (1915)
A San Francisco woman was charged with "masquerading in male attire" and giving a false name because she had walked around the city dressed in a man's suit of tweeds, introducing herself as "Tony Maloney." She told the judge that her real name was Mrs. Babe Webster, and that she had dressed up as a man as an April fool joke. The judge released her on the condition that she return to the courthouse the next day dressed in feminine attire. [Oakland Tribune, Apr 2, 1915.] More…
Help Wanted. (1915)
An ad placed in a Chicago paper brought over 300 job seekers to Proviso Township High School in Maywood, Illinois. The ad read, "WANTED—100 Laborers; bring shovels; good pay. Apply High School, Room 9, 1st av. and Madison st., Maywood, bet. 9 and 10 am." Some of the job seekers walked over twenty miles to get there, not having access to a car. School officials had to turn them away, explaining that the ad was a joke, but not of their doing. Seventy-five of the men ended up sleeping in the school yard. Eight members of the senior class were subsequently accused of having placed the ad and were punished "by denying them certain privileges." Their parents protested the punishment, but More…
Mutt and Jeff. (1919)
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Calling Dr. Lyon. (1920)
The Los Angeles Times reported that the Selig Zoo, in east LA, was swamped by calls on April 1. "Messages were left on various temporarily vacated desks in town and requests were made over phones to the unwary to ring up Dr. Lyon, Mr. Bear, Mrs. Fox, Miss Wolf and the Widow Campbell. Several people even were trying to locate certains Miss Cats. The only animals which escaped attention during the day were Mr. Hippopotamus, Mrs. Rhinoceros and Miss Elephant, who are too big to answer calls, over the wire anyhow." [Los Angeles Times, Apr 4, 1920.] (No calls for Mrs. Rhinoceros or Miss Elephant? Had people not heard of Ryna Soris and Elle Font back in 1920?) More…
Ill-Timed Joke. (1920)
Amos McKeand of Oakland, California was about to go home when he discovered that someone had replaced the front wheel of his motorcycle with a wheel from a baby carriage. Suspecting it was his colleague, R.W. Moore, he decided to retaliate by removing the generator from Moore's machine. While doing this, he was arrested by a patrolman and taken to jail. He appeared the next morning in police court and announced that he was off practical jokes forever. [Oakland Tribune, Apr 2, 1920.] More…
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…
Gasoline Alley… April Fool, Walt. (1920)
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Prehistoric Skeletons. (1920)
The mayor of Santa Fe, New Mexico announced that the perfectly preserved bones of a prehistoric boy and girl had been found in the badlands near San Rafael. The bones were located in a white stone house that was partially buried in lava. The prehistoric couple had apparently been overwhelmed by a volcanic eruption. Their skeletons were covered with a thick yellow plaster. Even the reddish-brown hair of the girl had been preserved. The girl had been wearing two turquoise earrings, that now rested beside her head. The find generated great interest among scientists. However, a few days later the mayor was forced to admit that there were no skeletons. He had been the victim of an April Fool's More…
April Fool Alibi. (1920)
Seventeen-year-old William Needham was found hiding in the closet of Brooklyn resident Matthew Cohen. Needham had $1200 in Liberty bonds and two diamond rings belonging to Mr. Cohen in his pockets. When confronted, Needham pleaded, "Don't get mad. It's only an April fool joke; have a cigarette." Cohen had Needham arrested. [New York Times, Apr 3, 1920.] More…
Mr. Stiff, Please!. (1920)
In Milwaukee, the city morgue received over 150 calls within an hour and a half from people asking to speak to Mr. Graves or Mr. Stiff. Consequently "the morgue failed for an hour and 45 minutes to inform the coroner of the death of a patient and asking that the body be removed." The coroner appealed to the public to stop making such calls on April 1st. [Sheboygan Press, Apr 1, 1920.] More…
April Fool Riot Call. (1920)
The desk sergeant at the San Francisco police station received a frantic phone call. "For God's sake rush the wagon to 1448 Bush Street." A dozen officers were sent to the address. The local paper reported, "They found 1448 Bush Street. It is a branch police station." [Modesto Evening News, Apr 1, 1920.] More…
Dr. Stransky’s Dinner Party. (1925)
Over thirty members of Washington's social elite received invitations to attend a dinner at a Washington social club, to be hosted by Dr. Pavel Stransky, secretary of the Czechoslovak legation. Invitations were extended by telephone by a woman speaking with a French accent. But those who showed up discovered there was no host. Nor had any reservations been made. Dr. Stransky later protested, "I sent no invitations. I am astonished... Today is the 1st of April and I think it is all a joke. But why should they pick on me?" More…
Undertakers Pranked. (1925)
Undertakers in Reno, Nevada reported that they received calls all day from people asking, "Someone there want me?" The undertakers soon began responding, "If you're a dead one, yes." [Reno Evening Gazette, Apr 1, 1925.] More…
Another One on Walt. (1925)
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Sell!. (1925)
Pranksters attempted to deceive some of the larger brokerage offices on Wall Street. Several of the larger houses received telephone messages instructing them to sell large quantities of stock "at the market." Doing so could have caused a collapse in stock prices. However, the brokers, who were familiar with the actual voices of their customers, realized they were being deceived and did not carry out any of the sell orders. [The New York Times, Apr 2, 1925.] More…
Moon Mullins. (1925)
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The Simplest Trick of All. (1925)
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No Mr. Fish. (1925)
In an effort to sidestep the flood of calls asking for Mr. Fish, the New York aquarium asked the telephone company to disconnect their service for the day. [Oakland Tribune, Apr 1, 1925.] More…
Contagious Health. (1931)
The Los Angeles Times ran a front-page "exclusive" reporting that Hamburg scientist Dr. Eugene Lirpa had discovered good health to be caused by a bacteria, "Bacillus sanitatis." Sick people were lacking this "germ of health," but they could be cured simply by breathing in the same air as healthy people. This story appears to be the only time the LA Times ever perpetrated an April Fool hoax. More…
Wisconsin State Capitol Collapses. (1933)
The Madison Capital-Times ran a picture on its front page showing the dome of the Wisconsin State Capitol collapsing. A headline announced, "Dome Topples Off Statehouse." The subhead read, "Officials Say Legislature Generated Too Much Hot Air." The image provoked strong public reaction and became one of the most notorious April Fool's Day photo hoaxes ever. More…
Vikings in Hawaii. (1936)
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin ran a story about the discovery of an ancient Viking ship in a sandstone quarry near Waimanalo, Oahu. The article was written in a tone of absolute seriousness, discussing details of the ship such as its dimensions and objects found alongside it. The only clue that the article wasn't entirely serious came at the end, when it was revealed that the letters A—R—FJOL—E. had been found inscribed on the stern of the vessel. Lest this was too subtle, the article noted that, "Its equivalent in English is APRIL FOOL." More…
Philadelphia Sea Monster. (1936)
The Philadelphia Record ran a story, with accompanying 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. More…
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: "Vigilance of patriotic San Antonians Wednesday was all that saved the historic Alamo for this city. Since Dallas was awarded main Centennial celebration, its citizens have been casting envious eyes on the shrine of Texas liberty. Early rising San Antonians today were astounded to find the Alamo had been loaded on trucks, preparatory to being taken bodily to Dallas for exhibition at the Centennial. Irate citizens and hastily summoned police halted the outrage and restored Alamo to its proper place." More…
Sandpapers Boat to Fit. (1937)
"The Flume, N.H.—Local boy builds boat, finds it too big, sandpapers it down to fit." [Life, Mar 22, 1937.] More…
Pet Oyster-Eating Hippo. (1937)
"Charleston, R.I.—Dr. Harold Sand's pet oyster-eating hippo escapes from backyard." [Life, Mar 22, 1937.] More…
George Washington Caught Backwards. (1937)
"Boston—General George Washington is caught backwards on his charger in the Public Gardens." [Life, Mar 22, 1937.] More…
Spring Recess Cancelled. (1938)
The student body of Cornell University was thrown into turmoil when the Cornell Daily Sun announced on its front page that school officials had decided to cancel spring recess. The reason given was that "a sub-committee appointed at the last meeting of the faculty to investigate student marks at the end of the first six weeks discovered that marks were so far below the required standard that they felt some immediate drastic action was necessary." The local railroad reported receiving frantic calls from students trying to get refunds on tickets they had already purchased to travel home. More…
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!") drove out to see the steamer, resulting in a traffic jam on the highway. More…
Zoo Lions Terrorize San Antonio. (1939)
The San Antonio Light reported that San Antonians were barricading themselves indoors after 13 lions escaped from the zoo and were "spreading terror" throughout the city. The paper's "intrepid photographer" supplied a picture of the beasts prowling loose outside of the downtown Municipal Auditorium. The Light later reported that its switchboard operator "got over 200 calls on the lions in front of the auditorium picture alone asking whether the felines had been captured. One man wouldn't believe it was a joke, saying, 'You can't fool me. I saw the lions in the picture and pictures are one thing that don't lie.'" More…
World To End Tomorrow. (1940)
On March 31, 1940 the Franklin Institute issued a press release warning that the world would end the next day. The release was picked up by radio station KYW which announced, "Scientists predict that the world will end at 3 P.M. Eastern Standard Time tomorrow. This is no April Fool joke. Confirmation can be obtained from Wagner Schlesinger, director of the Fels Planetarium of this city." The public reaction was immediate. Local authorities were flooded with frantic phone calls. The panic only subsided after the Franklin Institute assured people that it had made no such prediction. The prankster responsible for the press release turned out to be William Castellini, the Institute's press More…
April Fool Experiment. (1940)
Radio comedian Don McNeill staged experiments in the lobby of Chicago's Merchandise Mart to test whether people would still fall for some of the oldest April fool gags. He discovered that 20 of the first 25 people who saw a bill fold lying on the floor stooped to pick it up, only to have it yanked away. In addition, McNeill set up an aquarium with a sign "Invisible Peruvian fish." He asked spectators to estimate the length of the fish. Fifty-six of the spectators turned in written estimates. (For more about the "invisible fish" prank, see Brazilian Invisible Fish.) [The Galveston Daily News, Apr 2, 1940.] More…
Association for the Prevention of April Fool Jokes. (1940)
Fred Orsinger, self-proclaimed chairman of the Association for the Prevention of April Fool Jokes (A.F.P.O.A.F.J.), offered advice to help people avoid becoming the victims of April Fool jokes. "The telephone joker is the most common," he warned. "I figure out he'll consume more than 8,000,000 man hours of work throughout the Nation today." But he noted that should you see a pocket book lying on the street, it might be the setup for a standard gag, but it was nevertheless worth taking a look because "even if there is no money inside, you may get a good pocket book." Orsinger's regular job was Director of the National Aquarium in Washington DC. [Oakland Tribune, Apr 1, 1940.] More…
Woman Murdering Her Husband. (1940)
The Los Angeles Times reported that police officers were kept busy responding to fictitious reports of "big fires" throughout the city. They also responded to a report of a "woman murdering her husband" on N. Gower St: "The woman, mystified when a squad of detectives rushed to her home demanding the body and the suspect, soon joined the officers with a hollow laugh which somehow lacked the humor which the prankster probably expected." More…

Hutchins Quits. (1940)
The University of Chicago's student newspaper, the Daily Maroon, reported that UC President Robert Maynard Hutchins had resigned due to the unfavorable reaction from his comments on football. A successor was not named, but the article mentioned Postmaster Gen. James A. Farley (said to be an expert in "political science") as a possibility. The article also stated that the French government had presented the university with the luxury liner, the Normandie, as a gesture of goodwill. [The Freeport Journal Standard, Apr 1, 1940.] More…

War Bird Over Waikiki. (1940)
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported that Norwegian scientist Thorkel Gellison (fellow of the King Haakon Loof Lirpa Society) had invented wings that allowed men to fly. He had recently demonstrated his invention in Hawaii. He had also supplied these wings to the Finnish army, leading the Russians to decide to move for a truce with Finland. More…
The Usual Gags. (1940)
The Los Angeles Times reported that "old April Fool gags" characterized the celebration of April 1st: "The old gags of soapy sandwiches, wax apples for the teacher, and the stand-bys of 'Your shoestring's untied,' and 'There's a bug on your neck' were pulled again and again and for some reason unknown to anybody they drew a laugh of some degree each time." More…
St. Louis Zoo Changes its Number. (1940)
In order to avoid the avalanche of calls on April 1st for Mr. Lyon, Mr. Wolf, and Mr. Fox, the St. Louis Zoo changed its phone number for one day. Sterling 0900, the zoo's regular phone number, was changed to Sterling 0901. More…

Speechmaker Fools Congress. (1941)
Robert Fleming Rich, a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, was known for making a heated one-minute speech almost every day the House was in session. His constant subject was the national debt. His constant refrain was, "Where are we going to get the money?" On April 1st, looking grimmer than ever, he rose as usual and demanded sixty seconds of the House's time. Consent was granted. He cleared his throat and then grinned. "April Fool," he declared and sat down. He was greeted by tumultuous applause. More…
Enlisting Joe Buschmann. (1946)
"The army wants men, but in this atomic age it doesn't believe its recruits must be so ferocious looking they'll scare the foe to death. Cpl. Donald Barnes (left), Batavia, Ill., received a telegram Sunday that 'Joe Buschmann' would be 18 Monday, so Barnes was on hand early to enlist Joe for the Chicago army recruiting station. When he got to the address he found himself at the Lincoln park zoo, and Joe turned out to be Bushman, 550 pound gorilla, who celebrates his eighteenth birthday on April Fool's day." [Associated Press] More…
Skyforest Orange Trees. (1950)
Residents of Skyforest, near Lake Arrowhead in Southern California, staged an elaborate prank. Twenty-five of them, led by cartoonist Frank Adams, crept out during the night and strung 50,000 oranges along a one-mile section of the scenic Rim of the World highway, making it appear that the region's pine and cedar trees had suddenly grown fruit. The oranges were leftovers from the recent National Orange Show in San Bernardino. [The Independent Record (Helena, Montana), Apr 2, 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."
Firemen Don’t Respond. (1950)
When fire station No. 2 in High Point, North Carolina received an emergency call from fire station No. 1, they decided not to respond, thinking it must be an April Fool gag. They were incorrect. It turned out that fire station No. 1 really was on fire. An explosion had resulted in flames which damaged their truck. [Waterloo Sunday Courier, Apr 2, 1950.]
Hawaiian Flying Saucer. (1950)
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported that a flying saucer had crashed into the side of the Punchbowl crater on the island of Oahu. The joke unintentionally took in victims thousands of miles away when a local ham radio operator, believing the report to be real, broadcast a description of the flying-saucer. An amateur radioman in Michigan then heard this broadcast and reported it to his local paper, the Herald-Press which, in turn, only realized the report was an April Fool's Day joke after it queried the AP, who queried their office in Hawaii. More…
Stick ‘Em Up!. (1950)
“Too Sexy” headline banned. (1950)
The Guidon, student newspaper of Adelphi College, ran a headline announcing "Mating Season Open." Adelphi President Dr. Paul D. Eddy deemed this headline to contain too much sex and temporarily suspended publication of the paper. [Syracuse Herald-Journal, Apr 3, 1950.]
The Hawaiian Tax Refund. (1954)
Hal Lewis, disc jockey on Hawaiian station KPOA, announced that the Senate had repealed islanders' income taxes and provided for return of 1953 taxes. The announcement elicited a huge reaction. Radio stations, newspapers, and the Internal Revenue Bureau were all flooded with calls. Many believed the announcement because, less than a month before, Hawaiian congressman Joseph Farrington had demanded that islanders be given a refund of all federal taxes if Hawaii was not granted full statehood. (It was made a state in 1959.) An IRS agent subsequently called the station and asked it to leave his office out of any further pranks. He said his agents were busy enough processing 1953 returns, More…
Beeping Cylinder. (1958)
W.D. Loy of Charlotte, North Carolina first heard a loud bang, then a series of beeps coming from his front yard. He went out to investigate and found on his lawn a silvery cylinder shaped like a missile with an antenna protruding from the top. Suspecting it was some kind of Soviet satellite, similar to Sputnik, Loy sent his family into the basement to hide, then called the police. When they arrived, they unscrewed the bolts holding the object together and found inside a beeping electric bicycle horn, as well as a note that read, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. April fool!" The photo shows Officer K.K. Scott reading the note. More…
Sunflowers. (1958)
In Denver, an unknown prankster transformed stop signs into giant flowers. It was suspected to be the work of "a recent arrival from neighboring Kansas, the sunflower state." [Spokane Daily Chronicle - Apr 2, 1958] More…
French Poodle. (1959)
"What's This? — Gail Speicher gives her French poodle 'Domino' an airing. But wait a minute ... that's no poodle! Seems like anything can happen today. It's April Fool."[Lebanon Daily News - Apr 1, 1959] More…
Artificial Satellites Around Mars. (1959)
The April 1959 edition of the Great Plains Observer astronomical newsletter included a spoof report alleging that the moons of Mars had been discovered to be artificial satellites flung into orbit by some ancient civilization that had once inhabited the red planet. American astronomers were shocked when this story was apparently taken seriously by a well-regarded Soviet scientist, Dr. Iosip Shklovsky, who repeated the claim in an interview with Komsomol Pravda. Dr. Gerald Kuiper of the Yerkes Observatory later said, "He is much too brilliant to believe such nonsense." More…
Fake Snake. (1959)
A photographer for the Great Bend Tribune placed a fake snake on the pavement in downtown Great Bend and then hid in a car to capture people's candid reactions: "Twice boys tried to steal the reptile, and the Tribune photographer had to reveal himself these times to save the snake. One old man kicked at it, but did no damage. Many of the pedestrians walked within inches of the creature without ever noticiing it, proving that a real Python could sun himself at Broadway and Main without disturbing too many residents. The best picture of all was ruined. A group of girls walked within a foot of the reptile before one of them noticed it. They all jumped and screamed. But it so startled the More…
Kokomo Police Cut Costs. (1959)
The Kokomo Tribune announced that the city police had devised a plan to cut costs and save money. According to this plan, the police station would close each night from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. An answering machine would record all calls made to the station during this time, and these calls would be screened by an officer in the morning. The police reportedly anticipated that the screening process would save the city a great deal of money, since many of the calls would be old by the morning and would not need to be answered. A spokesman for the police admitted, "there will be a problem on what to do in the case of a woman who calls in and says her husband has threatened to shoot her or some member of the family." But in such a situation, the spokesman explained, "We will check the hospitals and the coroner, and if they don't have any record of any trouble, then we will know that nothing happened." More…

Kansas University Memorial Tower Launched Into Orbit. (1959)
The Lawrence Daily Journal-World reported that a group of science students had launched Kansas University's World War II Memorial Tower into orbit: "A group of Kansas University science students Tuesday night sneaked up on Mt. Oread, equipped the Memorial Campanile with rockets and as APRIL 1 dawned today they ran their count-down and sent the famed 'singing silo' of Lawrence zooming toward orbit. There was some question today, however, as to whether Ronald Barnes, KU carilloneur, was allowed to get out of the tower before it was launched from its Jayhawk pad." More…
Pogo. (1959)
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Zoo reroutes prank calls. (1959)
The New York Times reported that "The Bronx Botanical and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens are awaiting, wearily, their usual calls for Messrs Astor, Bush and Flower, and the Planetarium the usual requests for Mr. McCloud or Mr. Starr." However, the employees of the Bronx Zoo and the Coney Island Aquarium were given secret numbers to use, so that all calls to the regular numbers could be intercepted by the telephone company, "and the joke victims told the hard truth." The telephone company estimated that it intercepted well over 5000 prank calls. [New York Times, Apr 1, 1959.] More…
Morgue Phone Operator Interviewed. (1959)
The Chicago Daily Defender interviewed Otto Ebar, the man responsible for answering the phones at the Cook County Morgue on April 1st, the day when numerous calls are received for Mr. Stiff, Mr. K. Dever, Mr. Casket, Mr. Graves, Mr. Rigor, or Mr. Mortis. Ebar said, "he has to brace himself for when business executives and general office girls discover they have been tricked by some of their associates, some let their venom out on him. 'But the vast majority are terribly nice about it.'" "Ebar said the calls average about four or five a minute and that the men are more likely to berate him than the women who readily admit their embarrassment and refuse to give their name. One important More…
More April Fool Categories
Media Organizations and Corporations with April Fool Traditions
The April Fool Archive: 1600-1799 | 1800-1849 | 1850s | 1860s | 1870s | 1880s | 1890s 1900 | 1901 | 1915 | 1919 | 1920 | 1923 | 1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934 | 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939 | 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943 | 1944 | 1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 | 1949 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953 | 1954 | 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959 | 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969 | 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014
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