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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)
This has to be fake. If he really did eat the Bhut Jolokia, the world's hottest pepper, he wouldn't be talking by the end of the video. His tongue would be too blistered and swollen. Still, it's a good video. (via J-Walk)

Categories: Food, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Jan 14, 2009
Comments (27)
From Cabela's you can buy actual Jackalope Sausage:

The jackalope is nearly impossible to find, yet, we've successfully located the elusive animal and captured its wonderful flavoring. Jackalope (i.e. antelope, rabbit and beef) are mixed together and smoked slowly for mouth-watering results. An amusing gift for the skeptic and believer alike. Contains three 6-oz. "jackalope" summer sausages.

Eating this would be kind of contrary to the idea of trying to Save the Jackalope. Nevertheless, I've ordered some to find out what it's like.
Categories: Animals, Folklore/Tall Tales, Food
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 23, 2008
Comments (2)
Thanksgiving is approaching, which means the "turkey makes you tired because it has high levels of tryptophan" urban legend shall once again be heard at tables throughout America. Baylor College of Medicine dietitian Rebecca Reeves debunks this legend in an interview with the Houston Chronicle:

Q: So the tryptophan in turkey doesn't make you sleepy, right?

A: I am not sure how (that) gained wide acceptance. The urban legend is that the tryptophan in turkey is what makes you sleepy on Thanksgiving. Yes, the amino acid tryptophan is present in turkey, and in certain doses it can make you sleepy. But in reality, you'd need to eat an entire 40-pound turkey to get enough tryptophan to make a difference.

But her explanation of why people actually get tired after Thanksgiving dinner raises more questions in my mind than it answers:

Q: So why do people take a nap on the couch?

A: It's probably more due to alcohol. Or it could be that you got up that morning early to travel. Or it's been a long, beautiful day, and you're just tired. I hate to even mention this, but I've seen claims that because you're increasing your carbohydrates, you're increasing your blood sugar, maybe this could lead to sleepiness. But I'm not sure I agree with that.

Why is she doubtful that increasing carbohydrates (and thereby increasing blood sugar) can make you tired? She doesn't offer an explanation. Wikipedia offers a good summary of the "increased carbohydrates makes you tired" theory, and it sounds reasonable to me (more reasonable than the theory that the drowsiness is all due to having had a few beers, or the fact that it's been "a long, beautiful day"):

It has been demonstrated in both animal models and in humans that ingestion of a meal rich in carbohydrates triggers release of insulin. Insulin in turn stimulates the uptake of large neutral branched-chain amino acids (LNAA) but not tryptophan (trp) into muscle, increasing the ratio of trp to LNAA in the blood stream. The resulting increased ratio of tryptophan to large neutral amino acids in the blood reduces competition at the large neutral amino acid transporter resulting in the uptake of tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier into the central nervous system (CNS). Once inside the CNS, tryptophan is converted into serotonin in the raphe nuclei by the normal enzymatic pathway. The resultant serotonin is further metabolised into melatonin by the pineal gland. Hence, these data suggest that "feast-induced drowsiness," and in particular, the common post-Christmas and American post-Thanksgiving dinner drowsiness, may be the result of a heavy meal rich in carbohydrates which, via an indirect mechanism, increases the production of sleep-promoting melatonin in the brain.
Categories: Food, Science, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Sun Nov 23, 2008
Comments (12)
Designed to deter sandwich thieves. Green splotches are printed on both sides: "After your sandwich is placed inside, no one will want to touch it."

The bag was designed by Sherwood Forlee, who describes himself as "a designer with no design or art education." He also writes that he "calls himself a designer because it sounds hip and no one likes hanging around a nerd at a party."

One of his other inventions is a "Vaginal Simulator," which isn't a sex toy. "Rather, it is one of the most advanced and effective tampon testing simulators."
Categories: Food, Technology
Posted by Alex on Fri Sep 12, 2008
Comments (6)
Osteria L’Intrepido, a restaurant in Milan, Italy, was recently awarded Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence for its wine list. Problem is, Osteria L'Intrepido doesn't exist. It was a hoax restaurant created by Robin Goldstein (author of The Wine Trials) which he created to test the validity of Wine Spectator's award program.

Goldstein's description of the hoax can be read here. Wine Spectator's response is here.

If you don't know much about Wine Spectator's award program (as I didn't) this article in the NY Times provides some good background. Basically, the awards have long been recognized as a bit of a joke within the restaurant industry. Almost everyone who sends in the $250 application fee along with a copy of their menu and wine list gets the award. It's the restaurant equivalent of getting a Brillante Weblog Premio Award.

However, most restaurant goers don't know that. (I didn't.) And they're likely to be impressed by seeing a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence plaque hanging on the wall. That's the whole idea. It's a marketing scheme masquerading as an award program.

For Wine Spectator and their awardees it was a cozy little arrangement. I'm sure they never figured that someone would pay the $250 application fee just to poop on the party. (Thanks to Joe Littrell and Cranky Media Guy)
Categories: Advertising, Food
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 22, 2008
Comments (9)
Product placement has reached the TV news. On the desk in front of the anchors of Las Vegas's Fox 5 TV news sit two cups of McDonald's iced coffee. McDonald's is paying for the coffee to be there. But the best part: it's not real coffee. It's just a plastic simulation of iced coffee. From the Las Vegas Sun:

The anchors aren’t even supposed to acknowledge them, McDonald’s reps explain. That’s part of their genius, my little lambs! They get into your mind without you knowing it. So they just sit there, two logo-emblazoned plastic cups, percolating into the psyche. Made-to-scale models that weigh something like seven pounds each — refreshing, and bottom-line boosting!

The Las Vegas news isn't alone in doing this. Lots of news shows are joining in. I think I've seen similar cups on the San Diego news. I'd like to see one of the anchors forced to drink the cup down. (Thanks, Bob!)
Categories: Advertising, Food
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 23, 2008
Comments (10)
A youtube video purports to show popcorn popping when placed in between cell phones all ringing at once.



Clearly fake. It's a new spin on the old joke about cooking an egg with two cell phones. The only question is how they got the popcorn to pop. My guess is there must be a heating element beneath the table.
Categories: Food, Photos/Videos, Technology
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 09, 2008
Comments (14)
On May 15th thousands of people around the world went to their local grocery store to panic buy carrots. They were members of the facebook group called "On May 15th 2008, everybody needs to go out and panic buy carrots." From northernnews.com:

What started out as a prank Facebook group called "On May 15th 2008, everybody needs to go out and panic buy carrots," with just a handful of the creator's friends as members, has exploded online and now has 231,000 worldwide supporters on the popular social networking site. British teen Freya Valentine, the creator of the group, admits the response has overwhelmed her. "It started off as a joke between a couple of friends, so we were surprised when we got 40 members, but it kept going up and up and now everybody seems to know about it. It's mad," she said in an e-mail interview. "All I can say is I never knew that the group would get to this size, and I hope that the carrots don't get wasted and they're actually used,"Valentine said.

The group created a website: http://www.panicbuyers.co.nr/. It's now almost a week later, and some members of the group are talking about whether May 15th should be turned into an annual Panic Buy Carrots Day. Others are trying to figure out what to do with all the carrots they bought. My vote would be carrot cake. Lots of it.
Categories: Food, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Tue May 20, 2008
Comments (9)
An ethics panel commissioned by the Swiss government has determined that the arbitrary killing of plants is morally wrong. From The Weekly Standard:

A "clear majority" of the panel adopted what it called a "biocentric" moral view, meaning that "living organisms should be considered morally for their own sake because they are alive." Thus, the panel determined that we cannot claim "absolute ownership" over plants and, moreover, that "individual plants have an inherent worth." This means that "we may not use them just as we please, even if the plant community is not in danger, or if our actions do not endanger the species, or if we are not acting arbitrarily."
The committee offered this illustration: A farmer mows his field (apparently an acceptable action, perhaps because the hay is intended to feed the farmer's herd--the report doesn't say). But then, while walking home, he casually "decapitates" some wildflowers with his scythe. The panel decries this act as immoral, though its members can't agree why.

The author of the Weekly Standard article appears to have some kind of conservative agenda. (He's a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, which makes him suspect in my book.) However, the basic facts about the Swiss ethics panel appear to be correct. The text of the panel's report, titled The Dignity of Living Beings with Regard to Plants, can be downloaded as a pdf file.

From my point of view, what makes this interesting is that it represents the fulfillment of a satirical prophecy. Back in 2004 I posted about the spoof Society for the Protection of Plants. It only took four years for the satire to become true.
Categories: Food, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Wed May 14, 2008
Comments (16)
Posted recently on Yahoo! News: "A farmer tends organic tomatoes at a greenhouse in Langfang, Hebei province, near Beijing, China, February 6, 2007."

It's not photoshopped. It's an example of forced perspective. (via Snapshots from my world)

Categories: Food, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Mon May 12, 2008
Comments (4)
Two former Junior High teachers have been giving each other the same donut as a gift for 37 years. From sj-r.com:

In 1971, Mrs. Ross, longtime language arts teacher at the junior high, brought a doughnut to school to enjoy on her break in the teacher’s lounge. She and Mr. Nelson already enjoyed teasing each other, but on this day, Mr. Nelson took things to another level.
He hid Mrs. Ross’s doughnut. And then the doughnut disappeared. Did he eat it?
“I hid the doughnut but I did not eat the doughnut,” swears Mr. Nelson. “Someone else may have eaten it, but I did not.”
Be that as it may, the doughnut disappeared, and he was correctly identified as the thief. Mrs. Ross then bought another doughnut, glazed, and gave it to Mr. Nelson so that he would no longer have to resort to doughnut thievery.
“I thought he should have a doughnut of his own,” she says. “I think I bought it at a dime store.”
That is where things stood until Mrs. Ross’s next birthday, or maybe it was Christmas, they can’t remember which — this was 37 years ago after all, so we will give them a break. Mr. Nelson put the doughnut in a box, gift wrapped it and gave it to Mrs. Ross.
It has been passed back and forth ever since...
This tradition eventually became legendary at the Chatham school. Mr. Nelson sometimes directed one or two of his students to go down the hall to Mrs. Ross’s room with the gift box, hoping she wouldn’t realize who it was from until it was too late. The doughnut sometimes turned up in either teacher’s school mailbox.

Mr. Nelson currently has the donut in his freezer. He's plotting when and how to give it to Mrs. Ross, who is now 93 years old and living in a retirement community.
Categories: Food, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Mon May 12, 2008
Comments (6)
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