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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
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Jernegan's Gold Accumulator Scam, 1898
Cursed by Allah
BMW's April Fool's Day Hoaxes

Jernegan's Gold Accumulator Scam, 1898
The Hitler Diary Hoax, 1983
The Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, 1959
Loch Ness Monster Hoaxes
The Sandpaper Test, 1960
Pierre Brassau, Monkey Artist, 1964
Bizarre pictographs of Emmanuel Domenech, 1860
Sylvia Browne admits ‘mistake’
Posted by The Curator on Fri May 10, 2013
Sylvia Browne admits she was "mistaken" about claiming back in 2004 that she had communicated with the ghost of Amanda Berry. Since, ya know, it now turns out Berry wasn't dead. But did Browne make a mistake (i.e. she somehow misinterpreted what spirit was talking to her), or was she just making it all up? Does she understand the difference? Sylvia Browne: fans lash out at 'psychic' over false Ohio abduction prediction guardian.co.uk One of the world's most recognizable self-proclaimed psychics was wrong yet again about the fate of a missing child, and her followers on social media are taking her to task. Browne's prediction about the fate of Amanda Berry was not her first attempt to...
Categories: Paranormal Comments (7)
Hippo Eats Man
Posted by The Curator on Tue May 07, 2013
Thanks to Tah for giving me a heads up about this article. The hippo didn't eat a dwarf, but it does give an idea about how it would feel to become hippo food. My favorite line is, "Time passes very slowly when you're in a hippo's mouth." Experience: I was swallowed by a hippo guardian.co.uk There was no transition at all, no sense of approaching danger. It was as if I had suddenly gone blind and deaf. I was aware that my legs were surrounded by water, but my top half was almost dry. I seemed to be trapped in something slimy. There was a terrible, sulphurous smell, like rotten eggs, and a tremendous pressure against my chest. My arms were trapped but I managed to free one hand and felt...
Categories: Animals, Urban Legends Comments (2)
Marshmallow Farming
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 25, 2013
A video of a news segment about marshmallow farming in North Carolina recently appeared on youtube: It looks like it was inspired by the BBC's famous Swiss Spaghetti Harvest April fool's day segment. The reporter identifies himself as being from Channel 9 news in Iredell County. But there's no info about what year this first aired. So I sent the station an email to find out what they might know.
Categories: April Fools Day, Videos Comments (1)
The Argentinian Pet
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 11, 2013
I guess it's possible that con artists down in Argentina are giving ferrets steroids to increase their size, then fluffing up their fur and selling them as toy poodles, but as many people have already pointed out, this sounds an awful lot like a variant of the "Mexican pet" legend. Man gets shock of his life when he buys two toy poodles for $150 only to be told by a vet that they are actually GIANT RODENTS pumped up with steroids to look like dogs Daily Mail Gullible bargain hunters at Argentina's largest bazaar are forking out hundreds of dollars for what they think are gorgeous toy poodles, only to discover that their cute pooch is in fact a ferret pumped up on steroids. One retired man...
Categories: Animals, Urban Legends Comments (9)
Museum Mail: The Norwegian Wine Surplus
Posted by The Curator on Wed Apr 03, 2013
I received this message from a reader in Norway: Thank you for your list of good April Fool jokes. I think the best jokes are where you get people to do something stupid, but still rather harmless. My personal favourite is from my home country, where there is a state "Wine Monopoly" — the only place you can buy wine and liquor. You find a wine monopoly in most cities, several in the larger ones. One year in the late 1940ies, one of the major newspapers announced that the wine monopoly had surplus stock of red wine, but lack of empty bottles. Customers were asked to bring buckets and would then get red wine for free or very cheap. Lack of bottles sounded absolutely reasonable just...
Categories: April Fools Day Comments (2)
Bacon Mouthwash
Posted by The Curator on Sun Mar 31, 2013
Slightly in advance of April 1st, Scope is introducing Bacon Mouthwash. From their product info page: Scope Bacon is the newest addition to our line of products. It tastes like bacon, while still killing 99.9% of bad breath germs. And, it keeps your breath minty fresh 5 times longer than brushing alone. Does Scope Bacon make my breath smell like bacon? No. Scope Bacon just tastes like bacon while you swish, but leaves your breath smelling minty fresh 5 times longer than brushing alone. Is Scope Bacon a sufficient replacement for my breakfast? No. Scope Bacon contains zero nutritional value and does not serve as an acceptable substitute for food. Should I use Scope Bacon before or after...
Categories: April Fools Day, Food Comments (2)
The Roosterfish
Posted by The Curator on Sun Mar 31, 2013
Fred Freer sent in the following press release. I'll let everyone form their own conclusions about this "roosterfish." Fossil Find of the Century? Local artist and stonescaper, Fred Freer, discovers unique fossil in Chena Ridge hills. While teaching his sons the art and process of hand-splitting stone (for landscaping purposes), Freer Uncovered what seemed to be fossil remains of a birds head and beak. But upon further examination and cleaning the tail and fins of a fish also began to appear. Coined "roosterfish", and an amazing find it is, Freer states that "this is really gonna mess with the 'chicken and the egg hypothesis'". Unveiling of "the fossil" and artistic renderings of "the...
Categories: Animals Comments (2)
How to make cotton cakes
Posted by The Curator on Fri Mar 29, 2013
Back in the 19th century, food pranks were very popular on April Fool's Day. And one of the most popular forms of trick food was the "cotton cake." Instructions for how to make this delicacy were reported by Jane Eddington in the Chicago Daily Tribune on Apr 1, 1929: One of the older American cooking jokes of the days was the cotton cakes. I heard a woman tell how to do this in an up to date way, imitating what her great grandmother did who made cotton cakes and sent them around to her neighbors on April Fool's day. This woman has had fame as a cook, and this is what she said: "Make a batter for fried cakes — that is, what people used to call doughnuts, often — of one egg, two...
Categories: April Fools Day, Food Comments (0)
Museum Mail: April Fool Prank
Posted by The Curator on Fri Mar 29, 2013
Thanks to Joy for sharing this: After college, I took a job as a legal secretary at a law firm in Atlanta, GA. At the time, we all used Selectric III typewriters (PCs weren't around, and WANGs had just come on the market). We had a very nice, intelligent associate who had started about a month or so before April 1st, and although he was extremely smart at law, he was also a little too trusting and pretty naive. I clued the attorney I worked for into my plan, gave him some lines, and asked him to please call the associate and ask him to come to his office to receive a research assignment. The firm had a glass elevator that ran between the floors, and I sat at the very end of the building...
Categories: April Fools Day Comments (1)
Fake Chinese Walnuts
Posted by The Curator on Tue Mar 19, 2013
Chinese consumers are being warned to watch out for fake walnuts. Scam artists are apparently taking empty walnut shells, stuffing them with bits of concrete and paper, gluing the shells back together, and then selling them as real walnuts. [treehugger.com, ministryoftofu.com] It seems like a very labor-intensive way to make what can't be a lot of money. But I guess it's enough money to make it a profitable scam. This isn't the first fake food product we've seen from China. In the past we've heard about fake pig ears made out of gelatin, steamed dumplings stuffed with cardboard instead of pork, soy sauce made from human hair, and fake eggs (although the egg story turned out itself to be a...
Categories: Food Comments (3)
The Very Tall Bride
Posted by The Curator on Mon Mar 18, 2013
The above picture has been doing the rounds in recent months, often with the caption "Very Tall Bride." The bride in the photo is Allyssa DeHaan, a collegiate basketball player at Michigan State University from 2006 to 2010. In real life DeHaan is very tall — 6 ft 9in. So could this photo be real? Well, no. When I first saw it, I thought perhaps she was standing on a box, perhaps for a gag photo. But some more investigation revealed her height in the photo is a result of good, old-fashioned photoshopping. The manipulation was done by a DeviantArt member going by the username lowerrider, who enjoys creating fantasy photos of giant women. I found the original, unaltered photo of...
Categories: Photos/Videos Comments (1)
The Girl Scout Cookie Order Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Mon Mar 18, 2013
This is all over the news. [oregonlive, csmonitor] Some girl scouts in Portland, Oregon thought they had landed a massive sale of cookies when they received an order via email for 6000 boxes — a $24,000 order. Whoever was handling the order (a scout's mother, I assume) exchanged some emails with the buyer, and everything seemed legitimate. The buyer was even an acquaintance of the troop. So the girl scouts went ahead and processed the order, committing themselves to receiving 6000 boxes. And then they discovered the mega-order was a fake. The buyer was actually a young girl using her mother's email address. The girl was apparently young enough that she didn't fully understand the...
Categories: Pranks Comments (1)
Ukrainian Attack Dolphins
Posted by The Curator on Fri Mar 15, 2013
Word got out this week that the Ukrainian military had lost three dolphins in the Black Sea after the dolphins swam away from their trainers, apparently to search for mates. The problem: these were trained attack dolphins "equipped with firearms." The source of the story was a document that appeared online that seemed to be a scan of a letter from the head of a Ukrainian military research institute to naval command warning of the dolphin escape. The story took off when it got picked up by RIA Novosti (the Russian International News Agency) and from there spread to the western media. However, Ukraine's Defense Ministry has denied the story is true, pointing out that the scanned document...
Categories: Animals, Military Comments (0)
Motor Trip Hoax, 1944
Posted by The Curator on Tue Mar 12, 2013
I found the following story posted in the March 3, 1944 issue of the Carteret Press (scanned and hosted by the Woodbridge, NJ Public Library): MOTOR TRIP HOAX Los Angeles — A new kind of hoax was pulled when four men answered an ad asking for passengers on a trip to Raleigh, N.C. The driver picked them up, collected $50 from each and then stopped at the post office. He went inside and that was the last the passengers saw of him. The car had been rented. But I'm having trouble understanding exactly how the scam would have been profitable. First, if the car was a rental, wouldn't it have been easy to find out the identity of the scammer? Unless, of course, he used a fake ID to rent the...
Categories: Scams Comments (4)
Aliens among us?
Posted by The Curator on Fri Mar 08, 2013
File this under Low Threshold of Belief. Several Southeast Asian news sites have recently published photos that supposedly document the presence of "extra terrestrial beings" here on Earth. For instance, the Visayan Daily Star ran a picture (below) of "Emily Santodelsis" posing with a small alien. Strangely, she insisted that she hadn't noticed the alien while the picture was being taken. She only spotted it later, when she looked at the photo. And back in January, the Bangkok Post ran a picture of an alien supposedly spotted on a beach in Thailand. The Open Minds UFO investigation site explains that the appearance of these alien photos coincides with the addition of new special effects...
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