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April Fools Day
It may seem like I've been neglecting the site, but that's not true. Actually, I've been busy adding a new feature to it: The April Fool's Day Database. Over the years I've collected a lot of info about April Fools, but it was all disorganized, posted in a variety of places. So I figured it needed to be gathered together in one place and categorized. It was one of those jobs that turned out to be much larger than I originally anticipated, but it's now mostly done. (Well, about three-quarters done.) And it's already, without a doubt, the largest collection of information about April Fool's Day anywhere, online or offline. Not that there's much competition in the field of April Fool's Day research, because most people are sane enough not to spend their time tracking down information about old pranks and hoaxes.

So anyway, it's now possible to browse through categories such as April Fool's Day Botany, April Fool's Day cartoons, and even Loch Ness Monster-Themed April Fool's Day Hoaxes. How the world managed to survive before without this information, I don't know.
Categories: April Fools Day
Posted by Alex on Thu Mar 12, 2009
Comments (2)
Many thanks to Chris Keating, who has not only uncovered the long-lost Australian tribute to the BBC's Swiss Spaghetti Harvest hoax, but has posted it on youtube. The date when this was broadcast is still uncertain. Seems to have been in the early to mid-1960s. It aired on Melbourne station HSV-7. The presenter is Dan Webb.

Whereas the BBC's original broadcast described the bumper spaghetti crop that the Swiss were enjoying, the Australian version develops the story further by telling the story of a group of Sicilian farmers who were brought to Australia in the hope of developing the Australian spaghetti industry. Everything went well until their crop was blighted by the dreaded "spag worm":

This year, for the first time, the spaghetti crop has failed. Hundreds of tons of spaghetti hangs ruined on the palermo vines. The reason is a long, needle-like organism called Troglodytes pasta. or spag worm. This seemingly harmless creature does untold damage to the spaghetti vine.

Categories: April Fools Day, Food
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 16, 2009
Comments (4)
Some more reports from April 1st: the good (or at least midly amusing), bad, and plain ugly.

The Good
List Universe posted the Top 10 Bizarre Genetically Modified Organisms. I saw this today, without realizing it was an April Fool's Day joke, and it had me going for a while. My favorite on the list was the paper tree which "grows square leaves that, when dried, are already usable as writing paper." • ThinkGeek wrote about a strange new Nintendo Wii game: Super Pii Pii Brothers. The point of the game: "A series of toilets are presented on screen and the challenge is to tilt your body to control a never-ending stream of pee." • The Norwegian energy company Statkraft released a video announcing they had developed a way to generate power from starlight. • WestJet announced that it would be converting overhead compartments on its planes into sleeper cabins. (Not that bad an idea.)

The Bad
A New Zealand radio station claimed that the Foo Fighters would be playing at an Auckland venue. Hundreds of people took the day off work. Some even booked plane tickets to make it to the concert. Sorry, no concert! • Two Los Angeles DJs pretended that a two-year-old was being tattooed in their studio. When the (fake) child began to scream, some listeners called the police. It was not only a stupid joke, it wasn't even original.

The Ugly
An Australian woman called emergency services to tell them her baby had fallen off the bed and stopped breathing. When the ambulances arrived, there was no sick baby. It was her idea of a hilarious April Fool. • But the absolute worst story from April 1st:
"Aswin, 19, a first year student of a private engineering college went for a swim in the Malankara reservoir near here along with friends. Soon after he entered the water, Aswin was seen struggling to stay afloat but his friends who watched him drowning from the banks of the reservoir mistook his cries for help to that of an April fool prank, the police said. By the time they realised their mistake, it was too late for the student. His body was later fished out from the reservoir by Fire Force with the help of local people, the police said."

Categories: April Fools Day
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 03, 2008
Comments (9)
Happy April Fools!

I'm not going to attempt to catalog every April Fools prank that happens. Other sites have that covered, such as and wikipedia. But I'll list a few of what I think are the better ones:

• The BBC has captured footage of flying penguins. As reported by "Camera crews discovered a colony of Adélie penguins while filming on King George Island, some 750 miles south of the Falkland Islands."

YouTube UK has rickrolled its visitors. Clink on any of the featured videos and you'll be sent to the infamous Rick Astley video.

• Google Australia has debuted gDay technology "enabling you to search content on the internet before it is created."

Update: A few more April Fool's Day hoaxes from this year.

Nestle announced they were changing the name of the Butterfinger candy bar to "The Finger," in order to give the candy "a shorter, more contemporary name."

Guinness ran ads in some British newspapers announcing a new drink, Guinness White, available for a limited time only. (As a Guinness drinker, I had to include this one.)

A Russian newspaper, Noviye Izvestia, reported that maternity hospitals had been ordered to play the national anthem every time a baby was born, in order to foster patriotism. Given some of the bizarre laws in Russia, this seemed believable to a lot of people. When reporters queried government officials about it, even they weren't sure if it was true or not.

Hillary Clinton challenged Barack Obama to a "bowl off." She said, "today I am challenging Senator Obama to a bowl-off. A bowling night right here in Pennsylvania. Winner take all. I’ll even spot him two frames. It’s time for his campaign to get out of the gutter and allow all of the pins to be counted. And I’m prepared to play this game all the way to the tenth frame." I think Obama should take her up on the challenge.

Virgin Airlines announced in Australian papers that they were introducing a "no chair fare." Half-price tickets for anyone willing to stand for the duration of the flight. They said that about 1000 people responded to the ad and tried to buy a ticket.
Categories: April Fools Day
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 01, 2008
Comments (18)
For the past week I've been researching the history of April Fools Day in order to revise and supplement the info I already have on the site. For instance, I've significantly revised my article about the origin of April Fool's Day. I think it's now just about the most thorough examination of this question in print -- which isn't saying much because most articles about the origin of April Fool's Day simply repeat the same old legends, and leave it at that.

In the course of this research I came across a book printed in 1852 by the Sunday-School Union of the Methodist Episcopal Church in New York titled April Fool; or, The Evils of Deception. I couldn't resist buying it. The preface states:

The custom of playing tricks on the first day of April is one of very general prevalence. Many persons encourage children to practice those tricks through a mistaken idea of their innocence. The object of this little book is to exhibit some of the evils of deception, even when practiced in a form so apparently harmless and so pleasing to many. It will also indicate to parents and teachers the decided opposition with which they ought to discountenance this, together with every other evil, and 'appearance of evil.' It is from such beginnings that the young too often have their morals corrupted, and their souls destroyed.

In the book we read of evil William, who likes to play tricks on strangers in the street. He sees some girls in the street and shouts out at them, "Run, run, girls, a horse is coming!" They start running (though there's no horse), and one of the girls, holding the hand of her little sister, "was so intent upon getting her out of danger, that she did not see a lamp-post, which was in her way, and struck her head against it with so much force that the blood gushed from her nose." (Too bad they didn't have padded lampposts back then.) Evil William snickers and yells out, "April fools."

Just in case we can't quite envision the scene, an illustration is provided, which shows the girl about to collide with the lamppost. We don't get to see the later scene of gushing blood. Thankfully, William later realizes the error of his ways, with some help from his Sunday-School teacher.

We also are told that liars "shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." So just think about that before planning any April Fool's Day hoaxes this year.
Categories: April Fools Day
Posted by Alex on Sun Mar 30, 2008
Comments (19)
The New York April Fools' Committee has announced that, once again, the city will host a parade on April 1st. But for those planning to attend, please note that "the parade route has changed temporarily due to construction in Washington Square Park. This year the parade will detour east across Fourteenth Street to Union Square where the post-parade festivities will begin."

This year, floats will include Michael Vick "taking bets on his Dog Fight Float with caged, snarling pit bulls," as well as "a dazed Britney Spears looking for the Halloween Parade."

Inquiries about the parade can be directed to the Committee Chair, Joey Skaggs.
Categories: April Fools Day
Posted by Alex on Sun Mar 09, 2008
Comments (4)
The International Rising Tide network has declared this April 1, 2008 to be Fossil Fools Day. It's urging pranksters to target the fossil fuel industry on April 1st. They write: "Find a fossil fool in your community and pull a prank that packs a punch."

Some of the pranks they suggest:

Consider such tactics as blockading the entrance to a gas station, locking down to gas pumps, or having a die-in in front of the gas station. It is quite easy to gain access to the roof for a banner drop with the use of a extension ladder. It should also be noted that all gas stations have safety shut off buttons that will shut off gas pumps in case of an emergency, which are generally located on the outside of the station...

Research what agribusinesses are located in your town and target their offices or facilities with creative civil disobedience such as banner hangs, office demos, blockades, or creative street theater.

People in Sweden and France have developed a creative means of protest against gas guzzling SUVs. They simply let the air out of the tires, rendering them immobile. Thousands of tires have been deflated immobilizing hundreds of vehicles which has generated much media attention and awareness on global warming. The act is pretty simple and does not involve property damage. All one does is take off the valve cap and place a small pebble on top of the valve and screw the cap back on. If the pebble is placed correctly, it will press down on the air valve when you screw down the cap, thus releasing the air. To our knowledge there is no law against releasing air from car tires, though we aren’t going to guarantee it’s without risk.
Categories: April Fools Day
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 04, 2008
Comments (10)
Rumors have been floating around suggesting that Bungie Software might be coming out with a new game called Lego Halo. It would be the same as the Halo series, except everything would look like it was made out of lego. The rumor is based on a scan of an article from an upcoming issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly which describes this game.

There really is a Lego Star Wars game, so there's a precedent for this concept. However, Lego Halo appears to be a hoax. Gaming Today reports:

"it’s fake. As proof, I’m not pointing to the fact that the whole article in general has a “too ridiculous to be true” nature to it. No, I’m simply pointing to the fact that it’s EGM’s April issue, where they’ve always been known to throw in an April Fool’s joke or two."
Categories: April Fools Day, Technology
Posted by Alex on Mon Mar 03, 2008
Comments (3)
Does anyone reading this happen to speak Swedish? I'm looking for someone who could help me translate some material relating to SVT's famous "instant color TV" april fool's day hoax that took place in 1962. SVT has a page with a paragraph discussing the hoax. And the same page links to a video of the hoax itself. I'm hoping to be able to come up with an English transcript of the hoax. Anyone willing to help me out with this, I'd be happy to send them a free signed copy of my latest book. I'll ship it all the way to Sweden, if need be.
Categories: April Fools Day
Posted by Alex on Sat Mar 01, 2008
Comments (16)
Last year the Daily Mail ran an April Fool's Day article in which it claimed that Brits would have to pay a "carbon offset" tax if they wanted to barbecue in their backyards:

IT IS one of the timeless rituals of the new globally-warmed great British summer: firing up the barbecue and slinging on a steak. But people who choose to burn charcoal may have to think twice as councils now have swingeing new powers to force homeowners to buy 'carbon offsets' before they light up or face a Pounds 50 fine. The measures, which have been approved by the Climate Change Unit of the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs, are likely to severely curtail the number of barbecues Britons enjoy this summer...

A spokesman for B&Q said last night that they were looking at producing new 'green' barbecues to cut down CO2 emissions. One idea is to harness the warmth created by rotting compost, but these would require a chef to start cooking days in advance. So-called 'friction barbecues' powered by a guest on a stationary exercise bike are also being examined.

Yesterday, in a case of an April Fool's Day joke almost becoming reality, the European Union announced that it was considering banning patio heaters in order to protect the environment:

Fiona Hall, a Liberal Democrat MEP, has led the calls for the ban, which is expected to be endorsed by the parliament in Brussels.
"Patio heaters are scandalous because they are burning fossil fuels in the open sky, so producing vast quantities of CO2 with very little heat benefit," she said.
But the proposal has been attacked by publicans, who say bars and pubs need the heaters for customers driven outside by smoking bans.

The two aren't exactly the same (barbecues vs. patio heaters), but pretty close. Here in Southern California we love our patio heaters. The slightest chill in the air prompts us to fire them up, so we can continue sitting outside. It would hurt to have to give them up.
Categories: April Fools Day, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 01, 2008
Comments (15)
Status: Prank
Recently Big Ben's chimes have been silenced as repairs are made to it. Apparently this has inspired policemen at Westminster to revive the BBC's 1980 April Fool's Day joke. The BBC Reports:
Policemen at the Palace of Westminster are notorious for their mischievous sense of humour when it comes to dealing with tourists. For example, they once nominated a camera-shy constable as the "official" PC to be photographed by visitors eager to be snapped with a British bobby. But the latest wheeze takes the biscuit. Apparently when tourists ask why Big Ben has been silenced for work on the famous bell, they are told: "Because it's going digital."
(Thanks to Andrew Nixon for the link)
Categories: April Fools Day, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 05, 2006
Comments (6)
Status: April Fool Prank
Students at Hugh McRoberts School in Richmond, British Columbia were stunned when they learned that donut-maker Tim Hortons was going to become an official sponsor of their school. As a result the nickname for the school's team would change from the "Strikers" to the "Dunkers". Also:

The school’s Snack Shack had been sold, students were told in a survey that asked which doughnuts they preferred for the new shack’s menu.
What’s more, the school was to undergo a complete re-branding, with new colours and a logo featuring a coffee cup with Tim Hortons in big letters.

Students responded by protesting and calling up the press to let them know what was happening. (Though other students were excited about the change... especially the possibility of free donuts.) Turned out it was all an experiment in mass manipulation crafted by the school's language-arts class (I have no idea what "language arts" are... it must be a Canadian thing. Maybe it's like rhetoric, or debate), and timed to coincide with April 1st. Now, presumably, students are protesting because they won't be getting their free donuts.
Categories: April Fools Day, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 12, 2006
Comments (11)
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