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April Fool's Day, 1994
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) while the computer user is intoxicated. I know how silly this sounds, but Congress apparently thinks being drunk on a highway is bad no matter what kind of highway it is."
The article generated so many outraged phone calls to Congress that Senator Edward Kennedy's office had to release an official denial of the rumor that he was a sponsor of the bill. The giveaway was the number of the bill: 040194 (i.e. 04/01/94). Also, the contact person was listed as Lirpa Sloof (April Fools backwards).
Anti-Baldness Spray. (1994) The Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets reported that Mikhail Gorbachev had volunteered to test a revolutionary new anti-baldness spray. As a result he had sprouted a new head of hair, covering his famous birthmark. Accompanying the article was a picture of Gorbachev on a trip to South Korea sporting his new, curly-locked look.
Ostrich Buries Its Head in the Sand. (1994) The Daily Mail published a photograph showing an ostrich burying its head in the sand, under the headline "The picture that will give all sceptics the bird." An accompanying article explained:
"Despite years of trying, wildlife experts had been unable to find a single witness to confirm that the world's largest bird indulges in the extraordinary habit featured in the saying. Today, however, the Daily Mail can reveal that it does. Our picture means the sceptics can bury their heads in the sand no longer. It was taken by British wildlife photographer Jones Bloom, who ventured into the heart of Africa in his quest for the truth. He made contact with the Chostri Setear, a little-known tribe of the central Kalahari region whose members understand the ways of the ostrich better than any other people on earth... This week, after four years spent trying to win the tribe's confidence, Bloom was at last invited to accompany the Chostri Setear on a hunting expedition deep inside Ofolri Lap National Park... 'It was an astonishing experience,' Bloom said yesterday. 'For three hours we crept through the bush. When at last we spotted an ostrich, the lion cub ran straight at it. As soon as the bird saw it, it dived beak-first into the sand.' As the photographer moved in to take his historic picture, the lion began to roar and the tribesmen bellowed their victory chant. 'Yet through it all,' said Bloom, 'the ostrich remained immobile, head buried, apparently convinced it had become invisible. 'At least I didn't have to ask it to keep still for the camera.'"
Metro Station Name Change. (1994) The Parisian Transport Authority (RATP) renamed three Paris metro stations, but only for the 24 hours of April 1st. Parmentier station became "Pomme de Terre" (potato). Madeleine station became "Marcel Proust," and Reuilly Diderot station became "Les Religieuses." At the stations, metro employees handed out potato chips, madeleines, and religieuses (a type of eclair). Tickets were also stamped with the shape of a fish (a "poisson d'avril" or "April fish" — the French equivalent of "April fool").
Unfortunately, many passengers became confused by the name changes and chaos ensued. Therefore, the stunt was never repeated.
Corporate Tattoos. (1994) National Public Radio's All Things Considered program reported that companies such as Pepsi were sponsoring teenagers to tattoo themselves with corporate logos. In return, the teenagers would receive a lifetime 10% discount on that company's products. Teenagers were said to be responding enthusiastically to the deal.
Operation Killer Bees. (1994) Residents of Glendale and Peoria, Arizona woke to find yellow fliers posted around their neighborhoods warning them of "Operation Killer Bees." Apparently, there was to be widespread aerial spraying later that day to eradicate a killer bee population that had made its way into the area. Residents were warned to stay indoors from 9 am until 2:30 pm. The phone numbers of local television and radio stations were provided. On the bottom of the flier the name of an official government agency was listed: Arizona Pest Removal Information Line (For Outside Operations Listings). The first letters of this agency spelled out "April Fool." Few people got the joke. Radio and television stations received numerous calls, as did the Arizona Agriculture Department. Many worried residents stayed inside all day, watching anxiously for the pest-control planes.
The Moscow Tribune went out onto the streets of Moscow to ask people what they thought about the ethnic cleansing in Brutistan. They received a variety of concerned replies. The joke was that Brutistan does not exist.
Sobering Scotch. (1994) The Hoffman York & Compton ad firm released a mock ad for "Cape Town Scotch whiskey" — the alcoholic whiskey that would never make you drunk:
Cape Town is a smooth blend of 25 of the finest single malt Scotch whiskies. Most of which are made from the waters of Great Karroo highlands here in central South Africa. These pure malts are then aged for 15 years in oak and sherry casks for a distinctively sweet, peaty flavour.
But what gives Cape Town its sobering quality is that it's also blended with Retrohol®, a tasteless, odourless, ethanol-oxidiing enzyme which accelerates your body's ability to clear out alcohol. What used to take the body several hours to sober you up, now takes a few minutes! In fact, the more Cape Town you drink, the more effective Retrohol is.
Holy Grail Discovered. (1994)
Discover magazine reported that an archaeologist digging in Jerusalem had uncovered the legendary Holy Grail. The archaeologist, Leon Decoeur, found the grail on Christmas eve when, for no particular reason, he had decided to work late at the dig. The discovery had sparked intense excitement and controversy in the scientific community, although some doubted Decoeur's findings, remembering that 15 years earlier he had claimed to have found the Sermon on the Mount. Most exciting of all, blood had been found at the bottom of the cup. Decoeur hypothesized that the DNA of Jesus might reveal, once and for all, "that we're closer to chimpanzees than to the deity."
Flying Rabbit. (1994) The British Today newspaper ran a feature on a flying rabbit from a northern Guatemalan rain forest, which was being brought to a theme park. Pictures showed it flying through the air by means of pigeon-sized wings on its back. The commentary explained that the rabbit was "a natural performer and totally at home working with parrots."
Chewy Vodka Bars. (1994)
The Russian news agency Itar-Tass reported that an alcoholic beverage company had invented a new kind of candy sure to be a favorite with the Russian people: chewy Vodka Bars. These bars, designed to compete with Mars and Snickers bars, would come in three flavors — lemon, coconut, and salted cucumber. The same company was also perfecting another new product: instant vodka in tea bags.