The Eight Best April Fools' Day Pranks Ever

This story is not a hoax. Seriously.

April might bring warmer temperatures, spring rains and of course tax day, but it begins with the ultimate moment for pranksters: April Fools' Day.

So instead of playing a joke on you -- we are sure there will be plenty today -- we've decided to recap some of the best pranks of all time. As always, it is possible that we missed one or two, so feel free to add your own in the comments section below.

April Fools' Day pranks hold a special place in our hearts. They mean a break from our normal routines and are a throwback to the old storytelling ways of our ancestors, said Joseph Boskin, a history professor at Boston University.

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"I think it's something out of the ordinary. This is a very rational, technically oriented society," said Boskin, who is also on the editorial board of the International Journal of Humor and known for an April Fools' Day joke of his own.

An April Fools' Prank About April Fools' Day

In 1983, Boskin was interviewed by The Associated Press about the origins of the day. His response: The practice began when court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor Constantine that they could do a better job than he did. Constantine made one of them -- a guy named Kugel -- king for a day.

The story was picked up by newspapers across the country. It took AP editors weeks to realize that they had been the victim of a prank.

(Kugel is the Yiddish phrase for a traditional Jewish dessert similar to a pudding or casserole.)

Boskin said that April Fools' Day is so popular, in part, because comedy helps keep America's "diverse, complex society" intact.

"I think it just tickles people, it just tickles people's immigration. It has no meaning beyond it," he said. "I think two things keep America together. One is popular music and the other is popular comedy."

Seven More of the Best April Fools' Day Pranks

To find the best pranks out there, we turned to Alex Boese, curator of the Museum of Hoaxes, a Web site he created in 1997.

Boese, who has also written several books, including Elephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments, has ranked the top hoaxes of all time on the following criteria: creativity, notoriety and, of course, the total number of people duped.

The Spaghetti Harvest: At the top of his list is a 1957 BBC segment about the Swiss spaghetti harvest. The three-minute story talked about a phenomenal spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland that year, thanks to an unusually mild winter and to the "virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil."

Yes, spaghetti.

While the anchor discussed the crop, footage was shown of a Swiss family pulling pasta off spaghetti trees and placing it into baskets.

"For those who love this dish, there's nothing like real, home-grown spaghetti," the anchor said.

The phones at the BBC rang off the hook from people wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. The answer: "Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

Boese said that back in the 1950s, a lot of people apparently had not thought about where spaghetti came from.

"It signifies what's best about April Fools' Day," Boese said. "It's a gentle kind of humor. It's something absurd that managed to actually fool a lot of people. But there was nothing mean about it."

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