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Though April 1st, better known as April Fool's Day, is technically not a holiday, it is highly anticipated each year, especially by people who like to pull pranks. The origin of this tradition is a little sketchy. Some believe that the light-hearted fun began in 1582, when the Julian calendar (which began the New Year in April), was replaced with today's Gregorian calendar. Others maintain that it was a way to mark the change of seasons. No matter how it all started, the day can be a lot of fun!
That's because while it began with individuals pranking each other, over the years, even normally staid corporations have gotten into the spirit. Here are examples of some of the best pranks that have had people fooled for days, if not months.
The fact that Thomas Edison was a genius was confirmed in 1877 when he invented the first phonograph. Therefore, it came as no surprise to anyone when the New York Graphic announced that he had figured out a way to feed the world with a new invention that could magically transform soil into cereal and water into wine. The one catch? The article was published on April 1st, 1878!
In 1915, a French pilot flew over a German camp, dropping what looked like a bomb. Panicked, German soldiers dove for cover. When there was no explosion, they gingerly picked up the 'bomb', a football with a note that read, 'April Fool!'
In 1962, Sweden only had one television station that broadcast in black and white. So you can only imagine how excited everybody was, when on April 1st, the station's technical expert Kjell Stensson, announced that all existing sets could get programming in color, if the owner simply pulled a nylon stocking over his/her television screen. Believe it or not, thousands of people actually tried that!
Since we recently celebrated Pi day, this prank will resonate with most of you. In the April 1998 edition of the usually somber New Mexicans for Science and Reason newsletter, there was an article that stated that the Alabama State legislature was considering a law that would round the value of Pi to 3.0. Thanks to the Internet, the article went viral and thousands of people wrote in to protest, not realizing that it was an April Fool joke.
Some of the best pranks come from the normally staid British Broadcasting Company (BBC). In 1957, the BBC show Panorama, reported that Swiss farmers were having a great spaghetti harvest that year, since their biggest pest, the spaghetti weevil, had been eliminated. They showed a woman actually picking limp spaghetti from trees! (See video below). When viewers called in to figure out how to do it, their answer was - stick a dry piece in a can of tomato sauce and keep your fingers crossed!
In 2008, the company pulled off one of their greatest pranks ever, when they filmed what appeared to be a genuine documentary about a new breed of 'flying penguins' - This one, even had newspapers fooled for a few days.
Among the many memorable pranks pulled last year, was one by Improve Everywhere, who created a spoof video (see below) featuring 8 sets of quadruplets. Also hilarious, was Richard Branson's Virgin Volcanic that promised to take passengers to the core of a volcano. And then there was Kodak's new printer that would allow the user to print 'live' kittens!
Happy Fools Day! Be sure to let us know if you fooled somebody or were made a fool of, on this fun day!
Resources: metro.co.uk, wikipedia.org, dailymail.co.uk