Since my parents so kindly named me April, I’m no stranger to the ever-popular April Fools’ prank, and being shamefully gullible certainly doesn’t help my case! Remember the national Nutella shortage scare from last year?
Yeah, I fell for that!
So, come the 1st of April each year I fall victim to an assortment of funny, and sometimes just plain cruel pranks! From replacing the Panadol with laxatives, to my husband tricking me into thinking he broke his arm doing something stupid – I’ve seen it all.
My experiences, however, are pretty low-key compared to some of the crazy-stupid and intense jokes and hoaxes that have been played across history. All I can say is, I feel really sorry for the victims, but please know, you are not alone.
Nixon for President
On April 1st, 1992, National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation show announced that Richard Nixon would be running for office again. His new campaign slogan was “I didn’t do anything wrong, and I won’t do it again”. The station ran this side-by-side with audio clips of Nixon’s new candidacy speech. Not surprisingly, listeners lost their shit.
It wasn’t until the second half of the show that the host, John Hockenberry, revealed the announcement was one big joke. Comedian Rich Little had been impersonating Nixon’s voice the whole time.
The year was 1989 and Richard Branson, the 36-year-old Chairman of Virgin Records had a master April Fools’ hoax planned. On March 31st he took flight in a UFO above London. Thousands of motorists driving on the highway outside London could see this mysterious UFO descending on the city, with hundreds of people pulling over to watch in awe and fear.
When the spacecraft eventually landed in a field just outside the city, residents were quick to call the police.
One brave police officer approached the craft, only to retreat when the door opened and a figure clad in silver emerged. It turned out the saucer was a specially built hot air balloon that was supposed to land in Hyde Park on April 1.
Unfortunately, the wind blew him off course and he had to land a day early in the wrong location.
The Sydney Harbour iceberg
Born and bred in Australia, this prank supposedly originated from all the way up in Antarctica.
It was the 1st of April, 1978 and Dick Smith, a local adventurer, was finally delivering on his promise to tow an iceberg from Antarctica to Sydney.
He had promised to carve the iceberg into small ice cubes, which he would sell to the public for ten cents a pop. These well-travelled cubes would supposedly improve the taste of any drink they cooled.
As the berg was pulled into the harbour, however, his grand-scheme was revealed. A downpour of rain quickly revealed the illustrious iceberg was nothing more than firefighting foam and shaving cream atop a heap of white plastic sheets.
Needless to say, Sydney-siders were both amused and a little disappointed.
The Swiss spaghetti phenomena
This one is hands-down my favourite, proving once and for all, people will believe anything they see on TV. Admittedly, it was 1957, so we should probably cut them a little slack.
The Swiss spaghetti tree is one of the most widely acclaimed April Fool’s pranks of all time, where respected BBC news program, Panorama, aired footage of Swiss farmers pulling strands of spaghetti from trees.
The farmers were experiencing excellent crops thanks to the mild winter and virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil – or so the BBC said.
Huge numbers of viewers started to call in 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”.
So, if anyone has a random tin of sauce buried in their backyard, you know why!
Grand-scheme hoaxes aside, any joker can make the most of April Fools’ day with these easy pranks.
Mentos ice cubes
Combine Mentos’ with water and freeze in an ice cube tray. When your soft drink loving friend/family member/colleague goes to have a nice refreshing drink, it will explode all over their hands.
Or, Mentos volcanoes
Even better, loosely attach a Mentos to the inside cap of a soft drink bottle so when they open it, it will explode in their face!
The Cage copier
Attach a picture of Nicholas Cage to the inside of your works photocopiers, so whenever anyone copies something, they’ll end up with a print of Nicholas Cage.
Oreos and toothpaste
Offering Oreos, or even home-baked goods to your friends any family is such a nice gesture, although, if you replace the cream filling with toothpaste, they might not be so thankful…
If all else fails, no matter how old you are, a slime bucket above the door or whoopee cushions/blow horns a chair will also be good for a laugh.