By Karen Peach
It’s THAT time! Yes! THE time! Yes! Spring Time? NO!! It’s April Fools time!
I’m not the expert my sister Robin is (see last April’s “Merry Heart”), so instead of my own pontification, I will use just a few examples of successful hoaxes pulled off by some unlikely offenders, in hopes they will help inspire, instruct and equip you to celebrate this truly noble holiday. While you may be reading this a day after April Fools, since it falls on a weekend, it extends to Monday.
First a bit of history: the beginning is up for debate, with many believing April Fools Day had its start in 1582 over a disagreement with the new Gregorian calendar. I personally choose to believe someone’s sister—who has red hair—got mad at her oldest sister and decided to get revenge by replacing the creamy, frosting center of her Oreo cookie with toothpaste.
April 1, 1957: The British news show, Panorama, broadcast a three-minute segment about a bumper spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland. The success of the crop was due both to a mild winter and to the “virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil.” Richard Dimbleby, the show’s highly respected anchor, discussed the details of the spaghetti crop as they showed video footage of a Swiss family pulling pasta off spaghetti trees and placing it into baskets. The segment concluded with the assurance that, “For those who love this dish, there’s nothing like real, home-grown spaghetti.” The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest hoax response was huge! Hundreds of people phoned the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. The BBC replied, “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”
April 1, 1992 NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” program reported that former-President Richard Nixon had declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. Accompanying the announcement were audio clips of Nixon delivering his candidacy speech and declaring, “I never did anything wrong, and I won’t do it again.” Harvard professor Laurence Tribe and Newsweek reporter Howard Fineman then came on the air to offer their analysis of Nixon’s decision and its possible impact on the 1992 presidential race. Only during the second half of the program did host John Hockenberry reveal that the announcement had been an April Fool’s Day joke. Comedian Rich Little had impersonated Nixon’s voice.
April 1, 1996: The Taco Bell Corporation took out a full-page ad that appeared in six major newspapers announcing it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell was housed to express their anger. When White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale, thinking on his feet, he responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold. It would now be known, he said, as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.
April 1, 1998: Burger King published a full page advertisement in USA Today. The ad announced a new item on their menu: the Left-Handed Whopper. Especially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans, the new burger included the same ingredients as the original Whopper, but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees. Thousands of customers went into restaurants to request the new sandwich, while many others requested their own ‘right handed’ version.
For those of you who aren’t deviously creative but are inspired to carry out your own hoax, I found you a few ideas:
- Flip your coworker’s computer screen upside down (you can do that under their computer display settings).
- Cover your husband’s mouse sensor—on the bottom—with a piece of paper so it won’t track
- Replace your hand sanitizer with hair gel.
- Get EVERYONE you know: coworkers, friends, relatives to call Skip Russel’s cell phone all day!
A warning to the wise: with the advent of the digital age and modern technology, prank possibilities are virtually endless, but it’s a two-edged sword; so before you order online that bacon flavored Scope, or you try to smell the watermelon scratch and sniff on your phone, remember Abraham Lincoln’s famous words: “Don’t believe everything you see on the internet!”