The Top April Fools's Day Hoaxes

PHOTO:  President Richard M. Nixon smiles and holds papers while seated at a desk, circa 1971.
Getty Images

It's that time of year again, when creative minds around the world devise elaborate ruses to punk the masses. Some, like the "Taco Liberty Bell," have gone down in April Fool's infamy. Others -- like when Boston radio personalities Opie and Anthony announced that Mayor Thomas Menino had been killed in a car crash (he was very much alive) -- have gotten a less enthusiastic reception.

Here, courtesy of the Museum of Hoaxes, are some of our favorites April Fools Pranks.

A Spaghetti Crop Grows in Switzerland

In 1957, the BBC News show "Panorama" showed footage of Swiss farmers harvesting pasta from trees, thanks to the elimination of the annoying "spaghetti weevil" pest. Hundreds of people phoned the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. The BBC reportedly replied, "Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

Longest Marathon, Ever

It's tough being a foreign athlete, as Japanese long-distance runner Kimo Nakajimi learned. According to the April 1, 1981 issue of the Daily Mail, Nakajimi had gone to England to compete in the London marathon. Due to a translation error, he thought the length was 26 days, not 26 miles. A number of people allegedly spotted him running in the countryside, though no one was able to stop him. The paper attributed the translation goof to "import director" Timothy Bryant, who had translated the rules and sent them off to Nakajimi.

"But I have only been learning Japanese for two years, and I must have made a mistake," he said. "He seems to be taking this marathon to be something like the very long races they have over there."

The 168-Mile Fastball

Sidd Finch was a young pitcher who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour -- or so Sports Illustrated claimed in a 1985 story by George Plimpton, "The Curious Case of Sidd Finch." Finch was allegedly raised in an English orphanage, had studied yoga in Tibet, gone to Harvard and was choosing between baseball and a career playing the French horn. The sub headline of the article read: "He's a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent lifestyle, Sidd's deciding about yoga -- and his future in baseball." The first letters of these words spell out "Happy April Fool's Day - ah (a) fib". Many people believed Finch actually existed. On April 15 -- a week after publishing a second article about Finch's resignation -- the magazine announced it all had been a hoax.

Vote Nixon!

He may have resigned nearly two decades earlier, but on April 1, 1992, National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation" reported that Richard Nixon was running for President again under the slogan, "I didn't do anything wrong, and I won't do it again." "Nixon" delivered a candidacy speech over the air waves, and listeners were not pleased. Host John Hockenberry admitted during the second half of the show that it was all a big joke. The voice of Nixon was, in fact, comedian Rich Little.

Burger King's "Left-Handed Whopper"

On April 1, 1998, Burger King announced the arrival of the Left-Handed Whopper. The burger would contain the same ingredients as the regular sandwich, but would be redesigned to "fit more comfortably in the left hand." Both lefties and righties lined up for the new sandwich. On April 2, Burger King admitted that the new sandwich was a practical joke.

The Life of Pi

Most people think of Pi -- if they think of it at all, that is -- as having a value of 3.14159. But in the April 1998 New Mexicans for Science and Reason newsletter, physicist Mark Boslough wrote that the Alabama state legislature voted to change the value from 3.14159 to the 'biblical value' of 3.0. The piece went viral online, and the Alabama legislature received hundreds of calls from irate protesters. The article was originally meant as a parody against legislative attempts to stop teaching evolution.

Viagra for Animals

Pets get sexually frustrated just like the rest of us. And in 2000, The Independent reported, Florida researchers developed Feralmone, a Viagra-like pill to treat them. The article noted that guinea pigs have been known to sit in their cages, lamenting, "'I haven't had sex for months. Am I so unattractive?'" Pet owners were told to grind up the product and sprinkle it in the pet's food.

Diet Tap Water

In order to raise its profile, Yorkshire Water launched a 2004 campaign heralding its new "diet tap water." The fictitious H2O had allegedly helped a customer lose 21 pounds, and would soon be available in faucets across England. The British morning show, "GMTV," played along and devoted 45 minutes to the story. Yorkshire Water received 10,000 phone calls from eager viewers wanting to lose weight.

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...