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April Fool, hoax, hoaxes, other, top ten

Top Ten April Fool’s Hoaxes of All Time

From the full original article at the Mike Petrovich’s Top Ten Lists and… blog

Top Ten April Fool’s Hoaxes of All Time

10 – April 1, 1905: The Berliner Tageblatt broke the news of a shocking and massive crime — all the gold and silver in the U.S. Federal Treasury had been stolen. A group of thieves funded by American millionaires, the paper explained, had tunneled beneath the Potomac River and then beneath the Treasury, robbing it from below and getting away with over $268,000,000. The U.S. Government was said to be desperately trying to conceal the crime, even as its forces chased the criminals across the oceans of the world. Much of the German media accepted the story without question and reprinted it, making it a major news story throughout Europe. Some newspapers even created illustrations to show the exact location of the tunnel dug by the thieves. When word reached America, most U.S. newspapers were bemused by the gullibility of their European counterparts. However, there were a few calls for a congressional investigation of the crime. It was noted that European editors probably accepted the story so readily because many of them were already firmly of the opinion that America was a country in the grips of millionaire criminals.  (It just hadn’t happened quite that way… yet)

9 – April 1, 1998: Burger King published a full page advertisement in USA Today announcing the introduction of a new item to their menu: a “Left-Handed Whopper” specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, 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 their left-handed customers. The following day Burger King issued a follow-up release revealing that although the Left-Handed Whopper was a hoax, thousands of customers had gone into restaurants to request the new sandwich. Simultaneously, according to the press release, “many others requested their own ‘right handed’ version.” Left-handed products of various kinds are actually an old joke on April first, but Burger King’s announcement quickly became, by far, the most famous version of the joke.  (Mmmm.  Whoppers)

8 – April 1, 1933: The front page of the Madison Capital-Times announced with large headlines that the Wisconsin state capitol building lay in ruins following a series of mysterious explosions. The explosions were attributed to “large quantities of gas, generated through many weeks of verbose debate in the Senate and Assembly chambers.” Accompanying the article was a picture showing the capitol building collapsing. The picture probably wouldn’t fool many people nowadays, but by all accounts it fooled quite a few people at the time. Many readers were outraged. One reader wrote in declaring the hoax “was not only tactless and void of humor, but also a hideous jest.” In fact, the “capitol building exploding because of a buildup of hot air” was a fairly old joke, even in 1933. But the Capital-Times’s photo has come to be considered the classic representation of the joke.  (Well, politicians… enough said.)

7 – April 1, 1950: Aftenposten, Norway’s largest newspaper, announced on its front page that the government-owned Wine Monopoly (Vinmonopolet) had received a large shipment of wine in barrels, but it had run out of bottles. To get rid of the extra wine, the stores were running a one-day bargain sale, offering wine at 75% off and tax-free. The catch was that buyers had to bring their own containers to put the wine in. “Buckets, pitchers, and the like” were recommended. When the Vinmonopolets opened at 10 a.m., Norwegian wine lovers rushed to line up, forming long queues that stretched around the block. According to legend, numerous empty buckets were later seen lying in the streets, left there by people who had realized, while standing in line, that the sale was a hoax.  (Who wouldn’t want socialized booze?)

6 – April 1, 1967: Swiss Radio interrupted its regularly scheduled program with a news flash: U.S. astronauts had just landed on the moon. For the next hour, listeners heard a series of elaborately staged updates, complete with reports from correspondents around the world and interviews with experts. Belief was near total. Telephone exchanges became jammed, and even U.S. authorities in Switzerland, unsure what to believe, began to celebrate. The broadcast concluded with the report that the “moonship” would take off from the moon at 7 p.m., and listeners were told they could see it return to Earth by watching from a high vantage point, away from the city lights. In Zurich this prompted a mass exodus of people out of the city up to nearby Mt. Uetliberg. The railroad had to add additional trains to handle the sudden rush of passengers. It was another two years before U.S. astronauts actually did land on the moon.  (A fake moon landing in the late 1960s?  Who would have thought…)

5 – April 1, 1996: The Taco Bell Corporation took out a full-page ad that appeared in six major newspapers announcing it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell was housed to express their anger. Their nerves were only calmed when Taco Bell revealed, a few hours later, that it was all a practical joke. The best line of the day came when White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale. Thinking on his feet, he responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold. It would now be known, he said, as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.  (Yo quiero Taco Liberty Bell.)

4 – April 1, 1976: During an early-morning interview on BBC Radio 2, the British astronomer Patrick Moore announced that at 9:47 AM that day a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event was going to occur. Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, and this planetary alignment would temporarily counteract and lessen the Earth’s own gravity. Moore told his listeners that if they jumped in the air at the exact moment the alignment occurred, they would experience a strange floating sensation. When 9:47 AM arrived, the station began receiving hundreds of phone calls from listeners claiming to have felt the sensation. One woman reported that she and her friends had risen from their chairs and floated around the room. Moore had intended his annoucement to be a spoof of a pseudoscientific theory that had recently been promoted in a book called The Jupiter Effect, alleging that a rare alignment of the planets was going to cause massive earthquakes and the destruction of Los Angeles in 1982.  (And the Earth is flat, too!)

3 – April 1, 1962: Sweden’s SVT (Sveriges Television) brought their technical expert, Kjell Stensson, onto the news to inform the public that, thanks to a new technology, viewers could convert their existing sets to display color reception. At the time, there was only the one TV channel in Sweden, and it broadcast in black and white, so this was big news. Stensson explained that all viewers had to do was pull a nylon stocking over their tv screen, and the mesh would cause the light to bend in such a way that it would appear as if the image was in color. He proceeded to demonstrate the process. Thousands of people were taken in. Many Swedes today still report remembering their fathers rushing through the house trying to find stockings to place over the TV set. Regular color broadcasts only commenced in Sweden on April 1, 1970.  (Who’s legs are big enough for stockings to stretch over a 1962 size television?)

2 – The April 1998 issue of the New Mexicans for Science and Reason newsletter contained an article claiming that the Alabama state legislature had voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi from 3.14159 to the ‘Biblical value’ of 3.0. Soon the article made its way onto the internet, and then it rapidly spread around the world, forwarded by email. It only became apparent how far the article had spread when the Alabama legislature began receiving hundreds of calls from people protesting the legislation. The original article, which was intended as a parody of legislative attempts to circumscribe the teaching of evolution, was written by physicist Mark Boslough.  (Gravity is just “Intelligent Falling” too.)

1 – April 1, 1957: The respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied, “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.” Even the director-general of the BBC later admitted that after seeing the show he checked in an encyclopedia to find out if that was how spaghetti actually grew (but the encyclopedia had no information on the topic). The broadcast remains, by far, the most popular and widely acclaimed April Fool’s Day hoax ever, making it an easy pick for number one.”  (The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, had it existed at the time, might have offered an alternative explanation…)

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About David Montaigne

Historian, investigator, and author of prophecy books like End Times and 2019, and Antichrist 2016-2019

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