Sunday, March 30, 2008

In honour of a long-held tradition of trickery and pranks, I'm letting you in on some of the most successful April Fool's Day jokes played in past years:

The Taco Liberty Bell
In 1996 the Taco Bell Corporation announced that 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 as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.

The Sydney Iceberg
On April 1, 1978 a barge appeared in Sydney Harbor towing a giant iceberg. Sydneysiders were expecting it. Dick Smith, a local adventurer and millionaire businessman (owner of Dick Smith's Foods), had been loudly promoting his scheme to tow an iceberg from Antarctica for quite some time. Now he had apparently succeeded. He said that he was going to carve the berg into small ice cubes, which he would sell to the public for ten cents each. These well-traveled cubes, fresh from the pure waters of Antarctica, were promised to improve the flavor of any drink they cooled. Slowly the iceberg made its way into the harbor. Local radio stations provided excited blow-by-blow coverage of the scene. Only when the berg was well into the harbor was its secret revealed. It started to rain, and the firefighting foam and shaving cream that the berg was really made of washed away, uncovering the white plastic sheets beneath.

The Left-Handed Whopper
In 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."

15th Annual New York City April Fool’s Day Parade
In 2000 a news release was sent to the media stating that the 15th annual New York City April Fool's Day Parade was scheduled to begin at noon on 59th Street and would proceed down to Fifth Avenue. According to the release, floats in the parade would include a "Beat 'em, Bust 'em, Book 'em" float created by the New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle police departments. This float would portray "themes of brutality, corruption and incompetence." A "Where's Mars?" float, reportedly built at a cost of $10 billion, would portray missed Mars missions. Finally, the "Atlanta Braves Baseball Tribute to Racism" float would feature John Rocker who would be "spewing racial epithets at the crowd." CNN and the Fox affiliate WNYW sent television news crews to cover the parade. They arrived at 59th Street at noon only to discover that there was no sign of a parade, at which point the reporters realized they had been hoaxed. The prank was the handiwork of Joey Skaggs, an experienced hoaxer. Skaggs had been issuing press releases advertising the nonexistent parade every April Fool's Day since 1986.

Anyone else have some interesting and funny April Fool's Day jokes to share?

*Stories found at The Museum of Hoaxes


Elyssa Papa said...

Cool stories, J.K. I love when companies poke fun... the left-handed burger had me cracking up.

I know when I was in college that the college newspaper did a mock newspaper one April Fools' Day with prank stories.

I remember one year that mugglenet and the other Harry Potter site said they were merging into one site only to find out it was an April Fools' joke.

When I student taught, the eighth-graders "hid" in the library and then came late to class. Wished they stayed there the whole day. LOL.

J.K. Coi said...

My husband is just telling me about an april fool's joke where some university students wrote an article for the school paper doing an expose on dihydrogen monoxide (ie. water), telling everyone that it was really a dangerous toxin that could kill you. Technically, all the information they wrote was true, but the way it was worded made it sound absolutely deadly, LOL

Kelly Krysten said...

LOL! Great post, J.K.!

Amy Ruttan said...

Iceberg in Sydney *snort* that's funny.

Maggie Robinson said...

Great hoaxes. When I lived on an island in Penobscot Bay, the local monthly paper always had an April front-page that was faux. In one, it said that a Native American tribe was claiming the island back again (home to millionaires and John Travolta). Since tribes in Maine had in fact sued municipalities, a lot of residents thought it was true!