Monday is April Fool’s Day. A day where for some reason sophomoric pranks are not only allowed, but encouraged much to the chagrin of everyone including people who teach Tenth Grade.
So, how and why did April Fool’s Day start? Well, no one knows, at least according to the History Channel. Maybe it was Aliens? Kidding, but they do offer some plausible theories dating back to Roman festivals (Hey, remember when we knifed Caesar two weeks ago? What if we told everyone, he was alive?) to people who didn’t know most of Europe switched its calendar system in 1582 from the Julian to the current Gregorian one (Hey, remember the Caesar calendar? It’s done with. No, we’re serious this time) to something to do with the Vernal Equinox (Hey, no Caesar joke here).
Now that we explained the lack of history behind the event, we thought we would share some of our favorite April Fool’s Day pranks and hoaxes of all time.
5. No Quiero Taco Bell: In 1996, the Taco Bell Corporation took out a full-page ad that appeared in six major newspapers announcing it had bought the famed Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Pretty soon the park offices for the Liberty Bell plaza were overrun with phone calls. Well, at least hundreds of phone calls, this was in the days before social media outrage. Taco Bell let the world know it was a prank a few hours later.
4. Lord Love the Lefties: Burger King appeared to answer the unasked for prayer of left-handed people everywhere. A Whopper made for them. According to newspaper ads the company ran in 1998, the new whopper included the same ingredients as the original Whopper (lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty, etc.), but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of left-handed customers. Burger King announced the next day that it had been a hoax, but a lucrative one as lefties everywhere went looking for that special burger and hopefully some scissors or school desks.
3. Four More Years: National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation’s made a surprise announcement in 1992 that Richard M. Nixon had decided to run for president 18 years after stepping down. The broadcast included “live” excerpts from Nixon’s speech that morning, which included the line “I didn’t do anything wrong, and I won’t do it again.” Callers flooded the switch board without checking or wondering why no other stations were carrying the news.
2. Mis(Swiss)understanding: We are not going into all of the varied conspiracy theories of whether or not the United States landed astronauts on the Moon, but maybe all of the hoopla had a patient zero of sorts with a Swiss radio station in 1967 that alleged Americans had made the trip that day. The story was so convincing that Americans living abroad (and with no real way to check the accuracy) started celebrating. It was figured to be a hoax that evening, but only after some heavy traffic jams around Zurich due to the station advising people to reach high points nearby to see the ship returning from the Moon.
1. The Curious Case of Sidd Finch: Sports Illustrated, which was the gold standard for sports writing for several generations, unleashed a story in 1985 about a New York Mets phenom named Sidd Finch. Written by the famed George Plimpton, the story of Finch was so well spun that many people actually believed the Mets (a year after launching Dwight Gooden on Major League batters) had found a pitcher with a 168-mph fast ball. A pitcher, who also happened to play the French Horn; was the adopted son of a low-level British lord; dropped out of Harvard and pitched with a black boot on one foot. In hindsight, the story is hilariously crazy, but at the time, it created quite a stir and other media desperately tried to track down the elusive Fitch. The Mets played along by putting a locker in the Spring Training clubhouse with Finch’s name on it. Baseball’s then commissioner said two other teams had filed protests against Finch because he would be unhittable. However, within two weeks, Sports Illustrated announced it was a hoax and even noted the subhead for the story was a cryptogram of sorts with the words “Happy April Fools Day” spelled out by the first letters in each word.
That’s all from us. What are some of your favorite April Fool’s stories?