Outside the Cave –
On April 1, 1957, the respected and very stodgy 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. Incredibly 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.”
A number of different sites consider this to be one top 100 April Fool’s media hoaxes of all time!
OK, here at 3P we’re always trying to learn more and spread the word, so how did this whole April Fool’s thing get started?
The most popular theory about the origin of April Fool’s Day involves the French calendar reform of the sixteenth century. The theory goes like this: In 1564 France reformed its calendar, moving the start of the year from the end of March (Easter) to January 1. Those who failed to keep up with the change, who stubbornly clung to the old calendar system and continued to celebrate the New Year during the week that fell between March 25th and April 1st, had jokes played on them.
Pranksters would surreptitiously stick paper fish to their backs. The victims of this prank were thus called Poisson d’Avril, or April Fish – which, to this day, remains the French term for April Fool’s – and so, the tradition was born.
Similar traditions immediately started in other European countries as well, and of course inevitably made its way to the U.S.
Some other major media “April Fool’s” jokes –
- Instant Color TV in Sweden (1962) by placing COLORED nylon stockings over your black and white TV screen.
- Taco Bell (1996) announcing in full-page newspaper ads that it had purchased the Liberty Bell, and was immediately re-naming it the “Taco Liberty Bell”…
- National Public Radios’ “Talk of the Nation” (1992) revealed that Richard Nixon, in a surprise move, was running for President again after resigning his office. His new campaign slogan was, “I didn’t do anything wrong, and I won’t do it again!”
My favorite –
- Burger King announcing in USA TODAY a new item on their menu: a “Left Handed Whopper” specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans (all the ingredients were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left handed customers!)
So much fun at everyone’s expense, later embarrassment and then amusement! We’ve probably all pulled a “practical April Fool’s joke” on someone, or had it done to us.
Share your favorite April Fool’s (or “April Fish” ) joke with us! We’d love to hear it!
Learn even more about the history of April’s Fool’s Day HERE: Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time –