It’s 1st April, also known as April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day and time to catch out your family friends and colleagues with hoaxes and pranks. Be careful that you do not turn into the fool, as in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, jokes are only valid when sprung before noon. In Ireland, France and the USA the jokes last all day. Here’s a quick round up of some of our past favorites with our own made-up inclusion – can you spot it? Let us know what has caught you out this year or indeed in previous years:
1. Eiffel Tower Moves – Paris, France, Western Europe
Residents of France were stunned in 1986 when their newspaper reported that the Eiffel Tower was to be dismantled and moved to the new Disney theme park. The French were told that a stadium was going to built in its place for the upcoming Olympic Games.
2. The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest – Switzerland, Western Europe
The well-respected BBC reported on their Panorama news show in 1957 that due to a mild winter Swiss farmers had seen a record spaghetti crop. The film showed spaghetti strands hanging from trees and the farmers harvesting it. So convincing was the piece that viewers contacted the BBC in their droves to ask how to grow their own spaghetti tree. “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best” was the response from the BBC!
3. Hotheaded Naked Ice Borers – Antarctica
A magazine reported in 1995 that a well-respected wildlife biologist had discovered a new animal species in Antarctica called the Hotheaded Naked Ice Borer. He claimed they had plates on their heads, which heated up and allowed the creatures to tunnel through the ice at speed and with ease. He said they the creatures tunneled beneath penguins so they could drop in their mouths for a speedy snack. The magazine had the biggest response in its history for this story!
4. Metric Time – Australia, Oceania
In 1975 a news program in Australia reported that the country was converting to ‘metric time’. There would become 100 seconds to the minute, 100 minutes to the hour and 20-hour days. Seconds were reported to become millidays, minutes become centidays and hours become decidays. The deputy Prime Minister spoke in favor of the new system and the Adelaide town hall displayed its new metric clock. Yes, some Australians did fall for it unbelievably!
5. Whale Riding – Hermanus, Cape Town, South Africa
A tour operator offered a unique whale riding holiday experience of a lifetime in 2001. When tourists visited the world renowned Hermanus town in South Africa they could choose from either a blue whale, humpback whale or killer whale to take them on a short spin through the waters. The trip was fully inclusive of all equipment and even a photo to commemorate your ride, but you had to sign a disclaimer in case the whale nibbled you!
6. The 26-Day Marathon – London, UK, Western Europe
A UK newspaper ran a story in 1981 about a Japanese marathon runner who thought he had to run for 26 days rather than the usual 26 miles. An error in the translation meant that the poor guy was still running around the English countryside long after the race had ended!
7. Drunk Driving on the Internet – USA, North America
An article in an American computer magazine in 1994 claimed that a bill was being passed to prevent people from using the internet whilst drunk. The bill was numbered 040194 (04/01/94) and the contact name was Lirpa Sloof (April Fools backwards). The piece generated such a deluge of angry phone calls to Congress that it was officially denied, although do remember it is never a good idea to email or indeed bid in internet auctions whilst under the influence of alcohol!
By Julie Bowman