April Fool’s Day: Hilarious Hoaxes

March 31, 2010

Although April Fool’s Day is traditionally a day of trickery and pranks for friends and family, since the 1950s the media has become increasingly involved – running bogus news stories and promoting false products. These days it’s likely you’ll be surrounded by dubious news stories online, on TV and in the papers. So watch out!

Here’s our selection of brilliant April Fool’s Day pranks from the past:

1957: The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest
Perhaps the most famous 1 April trick of all. The BBC show Panorama announced that farmers in Switzerland were enjoying an abundant spaghetti crop due to a mild winter and the elimination of the spaghetti weevil. Footage of Swiss farmers pulling strands of spaghetti off trees was aired to illustrate the fact. Huge numbers of viewers called the BBC to enquire about how they could grow their own spaghetti tree…

1962: Instant Colour TV
In Sweden in 1962 there was only one TV channel and it broadcast in black and white. The station’s technical expert, Kjell Stensson, appeared on the news to announce that viewers could convert their TV sets to colour by putting a nylon stocking over the screen. Stensson demonstrated the process on air and thousands of people were duped. In case you’re interested, colour broadcasts didn’t begin in Sweden until 1970…

1976: Planetary Alignment Decreases Gravity
British astronomer Patrick Moore announced on BBC Radio 2 that an astounding astronomical event was going to take place during his radio show, at 9:47 AM. Pluto would pass behind Jupiter temporarily causing a gravitational alignment that would decrease the Earth’s gravity. Moore told listeners that, if they jumped in the air at the right moment, they would experience an unusual floating sensation. At 9:47 AM, listeners began phoning the radio station claiming to have felt the sensation. One woman reported that she had risen from her chair and floated around the room along with eleven friends…

1977: San Serriffe
The Guardian newspaper published a special seven-page supplement on San Serriffe, an archipelago of several semi-colon-shaped islands in the Indian Ocean. A number of articles described the geography and culture of the two main islands – Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse – and its capital Bodoni. The Guardian was inundated with phone calls as readers requested more information on the emerging holiday destination. The success of this hoax is often recognised as the start of the April Fool’s enthusiasm that now grips the British tabloids…

1998: The Left-Handed Whopper
Burger King published a full-page advertisement in USA Today announcing the introduction of a Left-Handed Whopper to their menu – a burger especially designed for the 32-million left-handed Americans. It stated that the new Whopper included the same ingredients as the original Whopper, the difference being that the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of left-handed customers. Burger King reported that thousands of customers requested the burger…

Happy April Fool’s Day from Travel PR!