According to Wikipedia:
April Fools' Day or All Fools' Day, though not a holiday in its own right, is a notable day celebrated in many countries on April 1. The day is marked by the commission of hoaxes and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, enemies and neighbors, or sending them on fools' errands, the aim of which is to embarrass the gullible.
The origins of this custom are complex and a matter of much debate. It is likely a relic of the once common festivities held on the vernal equinox, which began on the 25th of March, old New Year's Day, and ended on the 2nd of April.
Though the 1st of April appears to have been observed as a general festival in Great Britain in antiquity, it was apparently not until the beginning of the 18th century that the making of April-fools was a common custom. In Scotland the custom was known as "hunting the gowk," i.e. the cuckoo, and April-fools were "April-gowks," the cuckoo being a term of contempt, as it is in many countries.
One of the earliest connections of the day with fools is Chaucer's story the Nun's Priest's Tale (c.1400), which concerns two fools and takes place "thritty dayes and two" from the beginning of March, which is April 1. The significance of this is difficult to determine.
Europe may have derived its April-fooling from the French. French and Dutch references from 1508 and 1539 respectively describe April Fools' Day jokes and the custom of making them on the first of April. France was one of the first nations to make January 1 officially New Year's Day (which was already celebrated by many), by decree of Charles IX. This was in 1564, even before the 1582 adoption of the Gregorian calendar (See Julian start of the year). Thus the New Year's gifts and visits of felicitation which had been the feature of the 1st of April became associated with the first day of January, and those who disliked or did not hear about the change were fair game for those wits who amused themselves by sending mock presents and paying calls of pretended ceremony on the 1st of April. In France the person fooled is known as poisson d'avril (April fish). This has been explained as arising from the fact that in April the sun quits the zodiacal sign of the fish. The French traditionally celebrated this holiday by placing dead fish on the backs of friends. Today, real fish have been replaced with sticky, fish-shaped paper cut-outs that children try to sneak onto the back of their friends' shirts. Candy shops and bakeries also offer fish-shaped sweets for the holiday.
Some Dutch also celebrate the 1st of April for other reasons. In 1572, the Netherlands were ruled by Spain's King Philip II. Roaming the region were Dutch rebels who called themselves Geuzen, after the French "gueux," meaning beggars. On April 1, 1572, the Geuzen seized the small coastal town of Den Briel. This event was also the start of the general civil rising against the Spanish in other cities in the Netherlands. The Duke of Alba, commander of the Spanish army could not prevent the uprising. Bril is the Dutch word for glasses, so on April 1, 1572, "Alba lost his glasses." The Dutch commemorate this with humor on the first of April.
The following are some of the well-known pranks that have happened on April Fools' Day:
- Alabama Changes the Value of Pi: The April 1998 newsletter of New Mexicans for Science and Reason contained an article written by physicist Mark Boslough claiming that the Alabama Legislature had voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi to the "Biblical value" of 3.0. This claim originally appeared as a news story in the 1961 science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein.
- Spaghetti trees: The BBC television programme Panorama ran a famous hoax in 1957, showing the Swiss harvesting spaghetti from trees. They had claimed that the despised pest the spaghetti weevil had been eradicated. A large number of people contacted the BBC wanting to know how to cultivate their own spaghetti trees. It was in fact filmed in St Albans.
- Left Handed Whoppers: In 1998, Burger King ran an ad in USA Today, saying that people could get a Whopper for left-handed people whose condiments were designed to drip out of the right side. Not only did customers order the new burgers, but some specifically requested the "old", right-handed burger.
- Taco Liberty Bell: In 1996, Taco Bell took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times announcing that they had purchased the Liberty Bell to "reduce the country's debt" and renamed it the "Taco Liberty Bell." When asked about the sale, White House press secretary Mike McCurry replied tongue-in-cheek that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold and would henceforth be known as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.
- San Serriffe: The Guardian printed a supplement in 1977 praising this fictional resort, its two main islands (Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse), its capital (Bodoni), and its leader (General Pica). Intrigued readers were later disappointed to learn that San Serriffe (sans serif) did not exist except as references to typeface terminology. (This comes from a Jorge Luis Borges story.)
- Metric time: Repeated several times in various countries, this hoax involves claiming that the time system will be changed to one in which units of time are based on powers of 10.
- Smell-o-vision: In 1965, the BBC purported to conduct a trial of a new technology allowing the transmission of odor over the airwaves to all viewers. Many viewers reportedly contacted the BBC to report the trial's success. This hoax was also conducted by the Seven Network in Australia in 2005. In 2007, the BBC website repeated an online version of the hoax.
- 'Movie Guru's Gotcha" Starting in 1992 movie companies began to hold back all movies that came out on April Fool's day. Due to the fact that April Fool's in not always on Tuesday this has only occurred twice.
- Tower of Pisa: The Dutch television news reported once in the 1950s that the Tower of Pisa had fallen over. Many shocked people contacted the station.
- Write Only Memory: Signetics advertised Write Only Memory IC databooks in 1972 through the late 1970s.
- The Canadian news site bourque.org announced in 2002 that Finance Minister Paul Martin had resigned "in order to breed prize Charolais cattle and handsome Fawn Runner ducks."
- Annual BMW Innovations see a new "cutting-edge invention" by BMW advertised across British newspapers every year, examples including:
- Warning against counterfeit BMWs: the blue and white parts of the logo were reversed
- The "Toot and Calm Horn" (after Tutankhamun), which calms rather than aggravates other drivers, so reducing the risk of road rage,
- MINI cars being used in upcoming space missions to Mars,
- IDS ("Insect Deflector Screen") Technology - using elastic solutions to bounce insects off the windscreen as you drive,
- SHEF ("Satellite Hypersensitive Electromagnetic Foodration") Technology, which sees the car's GPS systems synchronise with home appliances to perfectly cook a meal for the instant you return home,
- Marque-Wiper - mini-wipers for each exterior "BMW" logo coming as standard on all future models,
- "Uninventing the wheel" to counter the "EU ban" on right-hand drive cars,
- Zoom Impression Pixels ("ZIP") to counter new "Slow Cameras" and,
- "BMW Instant Messaging" - using Reactive User Sound Electronic (RUSE) particles to display the driver's words to the car in front on the windscreen.
- A compact disc available to all BMW owners, which when played over the audio system performed minor service and diagnostic checks; when flipped over it played soothing classical music (Australia).
- Sheng Long - Electronic Gaming Monthly's infamous hoax of a secret character in Street Fighter II.
- There have been several other EGM pranks that readers have fallen into. Among them: claiming that some Street Fighter II characters possessed unlisted special moves, including Chun-Li hurling her bracelets at an opponent, Sega mascots Sonic and Tails appearing as playable characters in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and the release of a graphically-remade The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker as a preorder bonus. All such pranks have been met with praise and equal hatred from its readers, as can be seen in the "April Fools" letters section in the May issue.
- EGM repeated the Sheng Long hoax again with "Street Fighter III."
By radio stations
- in 2008 KSJN 9.95 FM in Minneapolis, Minnesota aired a Classical music piece that contained commentary like a live sports event. included such things as musician playing a note wrong.
- In 1982, Dutch radio broadcaster TROS seemed to experience problems during its TROS Top 50 apparent signal interference from a new, English language satellite radio station from Switzerland. Hundreds of people called in, only to learn later that it was all a hoax to introduce a new DJ, Kas van Iersel.
- BBC Radio 2 (2004): The Jeremy Vine Show reported that Germany had dropped the Euro but, as the German Mark was no longer in existence, they were in negotiations to adopt the British pound. Outraged listeners called by the hundreds to say that such a move would be an assault on British sovereignty.
- BBC Radio 4 (2005): The Today Programme announced in the news that the long-running serial The Archers had changed their theme tune to an upbeat disco style.
- Kiss FM: In the early 1990s the London radio station announced the moon would come crashing to earth. Various experts refuted this along with with many callers.
- Death of a mayor: In 1998, local WAAF shock jocks Opie and Anthony reported that Boston mayor Thomas Menino had been killed in a car accident. Menino happened to be on a flight at the time, lending credence to the prank as he could not be reached. The rumor spread quickly across the city, eventually causing news stations to issue alerts denying the hoax. The pair were fired shortly thereafter.
- Free concert: Radio station 98.1 KISS in Chattanooga, Tennessee falsely announced in 2003 that rapper Eminem would be doing a free show in a discount store parking lot. Several police were needed to deal with traffic gridlock and enraged listeners who threatened to harm the DJs responsible. Both DJs were later jailed for creating a public nuisance. Also, radio station WAAF 107.3 in Boston announced that Pearl Jam was having a free concert in a fictitious city in New Hampshire. A gas station in New Hampshire reported that several streams of car drivers stopped in asking for directions to the fictional town.
- New format: Radio station KFOG in San Francisco, claiming new corporate ownership, switched to a new format - the best 15 seconds of every song. All morning they mixed in false calls from perky listeners calling with compliments. This hoax can also be considered a parody of late 1990s media consolidations.
- Phone call: In 1998, UK presenter Nic Tuff of West Midlands radio station Kix 96 pretended to be the British Prime Minister Tony Blair when he called the then South African President Nelson Mandela for a chat. It was only at the end of the call when Nic asked Nelson what he was doing for April Fool's Day that the line went dead.
- New format: in 1998, radio station KITS in San Francisco played gay-themed songs and changed its call letters to "KGAY" for an hour.
- Sydney Olympics (1): Australian radio station Triple J breakfast show co-host Adam Spencer announced in 1999 that he had a journalist on the line at the site of a secret IOC meeting and that Sydney had lost the 2000 Summer Olympics. New South Wales Premier Bob Carr was also in on the joke. Mainstream media (including Channel 9's Today Show) picked up the story.
- Sydney Olympics (2): Australian radio station Triple M breakfast show The Cage announced in 2002 that Athens had lost the 2004 Summer Olympics because they couldn't be ready in time and that Sydney would have to host it again.
- Jovian-Plutonian gravitational effect: In 1976, British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore told listeners of BBC Radio 2 that unique alignment of two planets would result in an upward gravitational pull making people lighter at precisely 9:47 a.m. that day. He invited his audience to jump in the air and experience "a strange floating sensation." Dozens of listeners phoned in to say the experiment had worked.
- Shuttle landing: In 1993, a San Diego radio station fooled many listeners into believing that the space shuttle had been diverted from Edwards Air Force Base and was about to make an emergency landing at a small local airport.
- Cancellation of the Howard Stern Show: The April 1st, 2004 show started off with an announcement by the station manager stating that due to increased pressure from the FCC, Viacom had cancelled The Howard Stern Show. The station played pop songs until 7:00 am, when Stern came back on.
- Change of drinking age: On the Gold Coast, Australia's biggest tourist destination (particularly amongst schoolies), radio station Sea FM announced the drinking age would be changed from 18 to 21. This left a huge number of under-21s angry and frustrated, and incited protests. It was later announced at the Sea FM dance party that it was a hoax.
- Second Audio Program (SAP): In 2005, Micky Dolenz told listeners WCBS-FM was broadcasting in foreign languages, and they could make use of the SAP Language control. Callers to the radio station were told that if you didn't have an SAP button, then twist the antenna a bit.
- Tsunami warning and intense storm: In 2005, Estonian Radio's station, Vikerraadio, perpetrated a hoax during a broadcast of their morning program Vikerhommik, right after the 9 o'clock news. Station said that Finland had been put under a tsunami warning and that the waves were expected to be more than 5 meters high. They also said that Estonia was expecting heavy storms and that Finland might be subjected to hurricane force winds. Hosts also said that they were looking at real satellite imagery, and that it showed intense cyclones in Northern Europe. It was immediately proven to be hoax after a quick look at the weather maps.
- Theft of a Locomotive: In 2006, a Cheyenne, Wyoming radio station reported to listeners that during the previous night, a Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 "Big Boy" steam locomotive was stolen from Holliday Park. Although the locomotive weighed more than 550 tons (500 tonnes) and had no tracks connecting it to any nearby railroad, thus making its theft near-impossible, several listeners fell for the joke and went to investigate. The road that overlooks the park was jammed for hours as people realized that it was a hoax, and the locomotive was still on display in the park.
- "The Great Iceberg" On April 1, 1978 a barge appeared in Sydney Harbour towing a giant iceberg. Sydneysiders were expecting it. Dick Smith, a local adventurer and millionaire businessman, had been loudly promoting his scheme to tow an iceberg from Antarctica for quite some time. Now he had apparently succeeded. He said that he was going to carve the berg into small ice cubes, which he would sell to the public for ten cents each. These well-traveled cubes, fresh from the pure waters of Antarctica, were promised to improve the flavor of any drink they cooled. Slowly the iceberg made its way into the harbor. Local radio stations provided excited blow-by-blow coverage of the scene. Only when the berg was well into the harbor was its secret revealed. It started to rain, and the firefighting foam and shaving cream that the berg was really made of washed away, uncovering the white plastic sheets beneath.
- "National Public Radio" Every year National Public Radio in the United States does an extensive news story on April 1st. These usually start off more or less reasonably, and get more and more unusual. A recent example is the story on the "iBod" a portable body control device. It also runs false sponsor mentions, such as "Support for NPR comes from the Soylent Corporation, manufacturing protein-rich food products in a variety of colors. Soylent Green is People.”
- "Michael Jackson moves to Birmingham" In 2007, West Midlands radio station 100.7 Heart FM reported that newspapers were claiming that Michael Jackson had moved to the region. A station employee posed as a caller into the radio station, claiming he'd seen Jackson walking through Birmingham, and filmed it. Presenters Ed James and Hellon Wheels directed listeners to the website to watch the video, only for it to show James doing a caricature-like impersonation of the singer. Meanwhile, angry listeners telephoned the station to register their disapproval of such a controversial figure moving to the Midlands.
- 95.5 WBRU FM Becomes "Buddy FM": On March 31, 2006, WBRU claimed to be sold for two million dollars to Initech (a reference to the 1999 film Office Space) and changed the format of the station from alternative rock to "Buddy FM" - mainstream popular music. It was later found out to be an April fools joke, and, as of noon on April 1, 2006, WBRU had "regained" control of their radio station and began playing their normal playlist once again. Later that day, they confirmed that they were back to being WBRU, and that Buddy FM was no longer functioning.
- "97.3FM" in Brisbane, Australia reported the polluted Brisbane River to be a shining blue on April 1st, 2005. This was said to have been caused by a rare movement of the moon, causing high tides and the sea water to run upstream to the river to give it clean blue water. Multiple personalities were in on the joke and interviewed through the morning, and calls were screened so that those living by the river didn't ruin the joke. Some listeners even called in reporting how beautiful it was to see the river unpolluted and clear!
By television stations
- After 50 years, the 1957 BBC report of the purported bumper annual spaghetti harvest (see Spaghetti trees above) remains one of the most successful TV hoaxes of all time.
- In April 2006, the "Best Damn Sports Show Period" staged a fight between Tom Arnold and Michael Strahan. On Friday March 31st the show went off the air as Tom Arnold was wrestling NY Giant's defensive end Michael Strahan to the ground over comments Tom made in a tell-all book. Strahan pretended to be very hurt by screaming and clutching his shoulder as the cameras cut to black. It fooled cast members Rodney Peete and Rob Dibble enough to have them intervene in the fight. Rodney Peete went so far as to give Tom rabbit punches while he broke up what he thought was a real fight. It also worked enough to fool the popular Internet site "deadspin.com" into reporting it as a real event.
- In 2005, TV 3 Estonia broadcasted a news story, where the station claimed that thanks to a new technology, they knew exactly how much they are being viewed at the moment. They also asked viewers to put a coin against their TV screens if they liked the running broadcast.
- Swiss network TSR (Télévision Suisse Romande), broadcast a totally ridiculous report every year, usually at the end of the 19.30 news. For example, in 2005, they reported that instead of being helicoptered out when a person is injured while skiing, they are parachuted down the mountain. In 2006, it was that the town of Fribourg was planning to make people release their handbrakes in designated areas, so that if parking spaces were too tight, all people would have to do was to call for the police and they would push the car.
- The night-time channel Adult Swim has had several pranks over the years.
- There was no prank in 2005 because it fell on a Friday, but in 2004, mustaches were drawn on characters during the shows.
- In 2006, the channel significantly changed its programming. InuYasha was replaced by the 1980s cartoon Karate Kommandos starring Chuck Norris, while Neon Genesis Evangelion was replaced by Boo Boo Runs Wild and Cowboy Bebop was replaced by Mister T. Full Metal Alchemist and Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG had their episodes edited so characters farted throughout the show, although they showed an unedited version of the Ghost in the Shell episode later in the night.
- In 2007, which also fell on a Sunday, Adult Swim once again had a revised schedule. The station played only Perfect Hair Forever starting at midnight. The first episode shown was actually the premiere of the show's second season. After that, season 1 was rebroadcast in modified form, made to resemble old VHS fansubs,in one episode the subs oddly turned into a script from Aqua Teen Hunger Force.. Throughout the night the station also had short clips entitled "Fan Service Moments" in which they showed short shots of scantily clad anime girls. Adult Swim also ran commercials saying that Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters would air 10 PM on April 1st, almost two weeks before its scheduled theatrical release date. They actually did, in fact, play the movie, however it was in a box in the bottom-left corner of the screen during the channel's regular programming. The box the movie was played in was too small to be viewed and the sound was that of the regular show. However, the channel did play the opening scene of the movie on the full screen with sound.
- In 2008, sneak previews of upcoming shows A Young Person's Guide to History, Delocated, Superjail and Fat Guy Stuck in Internet aired, along with new episodes of Metalocalypse, Venture Bros, Moral Orel, and Robot Chicken.
- On April Fools' Day, 1997, Cartoon Network ran the 1944 Screwy Squirrel cartoon Happy-Go-Nutty repeatedly from 6 AM to 6 PM, suggesting that the cartoon character had taken over the network.
- In 2002, Toonami showed 4 episodes of Batman: The Animated Series featuring The Joker, suggesting that the villain had taken over the block by using his Joker virus to infect the computer system on board the Absolution.
- In 1989, Seattle area TV program Almost Live! set up a phony broadcast room and dressed up actors as TV anchors to pull an April Fools' joke explaining that the Space Needle had collapsed in a windstorm.
- The BBC's Saturday lunchtime show Football Focus broadcast a piece centred on the upcoming change of the size of goals. Using West Ham United manager, Harry Redknapp, the report claimed that the size of the goals would increase by two feet in height and four feet in length. Redknapp was being 'interviewed' on the training ground where his goalkeepers were getting to grips with bigger goals. They told the truth on the following week's show, where outtakes of Redknapp messing up his lines were also shown. The BBC's Grandstand sports magazine programme once featured a dispute between two production staff that turned into a fight, while the presenter continued oblivious to the scuffle behind him.
- In 1998, the Channel 4 morning show The Big Breakfast got into trouble with various authorities for pulling an April Fools stunt showing video footage of the Millennium Dome on fire.
- In 2004, MTV's Total Request Live reported that the band Simple Plan was breaking up. Lead Singer Pierre Bouvier even called in and claimed that constant fighting had led to the break-up. "Things have been said and lines have been crossed. It's hard to forget things. For the moment now I just really can't stand being around those guys. I just need some time to relax," he told viewers. Throughout the show, VJs Damien Fahey and Quddus took calls from distraught fans about the band's break-up. However, at the end of the show, Bouvier called back to confess that it was all just an elaborate April Fool's Day prank. "So you're not breaking up?" asked Fahey. "Are you kidding me? No, man. How the hell could we break up? We couldn't do that. I love those guys," Bouvier replied. TRL carried out a similar prank on April Fool's Day of 2002 when Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys was a guest host. He opened the show by saying that the group had decided to go their separate ways, at which point many of the girls in the audience began to cry. "Before we get started, though, I want to take a minute to clear up some things. There's been a lot of rumors going around about Backstreet and our future and what's going on. Since I'm hosting today, the rest of the guys thought it would be a good idea while I was on here that I cleared up all those rumours and allegations. Uhm, as of today, the fellas and I will no longer be performing together," Richardson said. "I'm joining a punk rock band and Nick's doing a solo album and, uh, we'll get into that a bit later," he went on to say before revealing it was just an April Fool's joke.
- The 1977 British documentary Alternative 3 was originally intended as an April Fools' Day hoax and the date of April 1, 1977 is specifically given in the program's credits. This documentary detailed the discovery of a major cover-up involving the American and Soviet Space Agencies, who had been collaborating on plans to make the moon and Mars habitable in the event of a terminal environmental catastrophe on Earth. The program gave birth to a large number of conspiracy theories.
- In 1979 the BBC programme That's Life!, which often featured talented pets, fooled many viewers with its story about an Old English sheepdog that could drive a car.
- In 1991, during the time block of the student comedy show Coo-Coo, the Bulgarian National Television airs breaking news that “...the situation in the nuclear power plant of Kolzoduj is fully under control.” This brings back memories of the communist censorship during the reporting of the Chernobyl disaster half a decade earlier. 90% of the viewers are convinced that reactor No.4 in Kozloduj has exploded. The authors of the comedy show are later accused of manipulating the public in order to destabilize the Bulgarian government.
- NESN, a New England sports network, announced that Tom Brady, the quarterback for the New England Patriots, had resigned, and that he would become a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.
- South Park: April 1st, 1998 was advertised as being the premiere of the show's second season — and also the resolution of a cliffhanger where Eric Cartman was about to discover the identity of his father. Fans spent weeks speculating on the father's identity, but when they tuned in to watch it they were instead treated to Terrance and Phillip in Not Without My Anus, a half-hour of Terrance and Phillip fart jokes. The true resolution to the cliffhanger aired several weeks later. The show's creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone claim during the DVD introduction to this episode that they received death threats over pulling the prank.
- The Trouble with Tracy: In 2003, The Comedy Network in Canada announced that it would produce and air a remake of the 1970s Canadian sitcom The Trouble with Tracy. The original series is widely considered to be one of the worst sitcoms ever produced. Several media outlets fell for the hoax.
- When the movie Volcano, starring Tommy Lee Jones, came out, a TV station prepared scenes from the movie to run as if they were an actual news broadcast. At the end of the report stating that a volcano had erupted in the middle of Los Angeles and that the city was completely engulfed in flames, the announcer added that it was all an April Fools' prank.
- Going Live!: In the 90's, Phillip Schofield did a section on a new type of music player that had every top 40 single loaded into it, that could play a song just by speaking the name of the song into it. He said it would be available to buy soon. He invited viewers to ring in and request a song, Then he would ask the machine to play it. The studio was of course inundated with calls, and Phillip revealed later that it was a prank and the machine didn't exist.
By magazines, newspapers, and books
- George Plimpton wrote a 1985 article in Sports Illustrated about a New York Mets prospect named Sidd Finch, who could throw a 168 mph (270 km/h) fastball with pinpoint accuracy. This kid, known as "Barefoot" Sidd[hartha] Finch, reportedly learned to pitch in a Buddhist monastery. The first letter of each line in the opening paragraph spelled out the fact of its being an April Fool joke.
- In April 1990, the British magazine Classic CD announced the discovery of the first recording ever made : Frederic Chopin himself interpreting his minute waltz. This event followed the discovery of 3 glass cylinders and a letter discovered buried in a garden next to Chopin’s house in Montfort l’Amaury (France). In that letter, an inventor wrote he had built a recording device in the year 1849 (several years before the phonograph was invented). The sound was inscribed into tracks by a stylus and a vibrating membrane on a lamp-blackened glass cylinder. He asked his neighbour Frederic Chopin to record some music for him. But since he could not play back the sound, he buried it in his garden and died anonymously. The magazine Classic CD offered a CD on which one could hear a dim and muffled music, dominated by a repeating grinding noise that sounded like Chopin playing. The next month the readers learned that the music was played in a room next to the recorder. The tempo was modified so that it would last just one minute, and the hypnotic grinding noise was made by scratching the microphone with a fingernail.
- In 2005, the Maryville Daily Forum newspaper in Maryville, Mo., published an entirely fake front page on April 1. Stories detailed a plan to drain a local lake to find the city manager's lucky golf ball; the city's efforts to annex the entire town from Missouri into Iowa; and the arrest of the newspaper's publisher for smoking a cigar in a restaurant (only a few months after a city-wide no-smoking ban was put into effect). Page 2 of that day's newspaper proclaimed "APRIL FOOLS!" across the top of the page, followed by that day's real news stories. The newspaper received hundreds of phone calls that day from readers who thought the stories were real, and Maryville City Hall also received dozens of phone calls from citizens outraged that the city would drain a lake or annex into Iowa.
- Lies to Get You Out of the House: In 1985, the L.A. Weekly printed an entire page of fake things to do on April Fools day, by which hundreds of people were fooled.
- Comic strip switcheroo: Cartoonists of popularly syndicated comic strips draw each others' strips. In some cases, the artist draws characters in the other strip's milieu, while in others, the artist draws in characters from other visiting characters from his own. Cartoonists have done this sort of "switcheroo" for several years. The 1997 switch was particularly widespread.
- Coldplay to back the Tories - On April 1 2006 the UK Guardian journalist "Olaf Priol" claimed that Chris Martin of rock band Coldplay had decided to publicly support the UK Conservative Party leader David Cameron due to his disillusionment with previous Labour Party prime minister Tony Blair, even going so far as to produce a fake song, "Talk to David", that could be downloaded via the Guardian website. Despite being an obvious hoax, the Labour Party's Media Monitoring Unit were concerned enough to circulate the story throughout "most of the government".
- Discover Magazine frequently runs one fake article in their April edition as an April Fool's joke. The articles are often so outrageous that they are hard to miss, yet the next month's issue frequently has angry letters from readers who feel misled or quote bad science. Examples have included the discovery of the "Bigon" (a subatomic particle the size of a bowling ball) and of the "Hotheaded Naked Ice Borer" (an Antarctic predator resembling a Naked Mole Rat that burrows through ice).
By game shows
- As part of an April Fools' joke on April 1, 1997, Alex Trebek and Pat Sajak switched hosting duties. Pat hosted Jeopardy! that day and Alex hosted Wheel of Fortune where Sajak and Vanna White played as contestants. Jeopardy! announcer Johnny Gilbert did double duties that day.
- The Price is Right notoriously gave away April Fools' day themed showcases in the 1980s featuring assortments of gag prizes (such as trips to made up locations) or by staging the entire showcase to fall apart. However, once the deception was revealed, the real showcase the contestant was to bid on usually consisted of extravagant prizes, such as two new cars.
- In 2003, Hollywood Squares producers played an April Fools joke on host Tom Bergeron and the stars by booking two of the most difficult contestants ever. The contestants were in fact actors.
- In a famous edition of the British version of The Weakest Link transmitted on April Fools' Day 2006 Anne Robinson surprised the contestants by being initially very pleasant to them. However, after a period she reverted to her usual haranguing self stating that "I can't be bothered with this anymore".
- Kremvax: In 1984, in one of the earliest on-line hoaxes, a message was circulated that Usenet had been opened to users in the Soviet Union.
- April Fools' Day RFC
- Google's hoaxes
- Dead fairy hoax: In 2007, an illusion designer for magicians posted on his website some images illustrating the corpse of an unknown eight-inch creation, which was claimed to be the mummified remains of a fairy. He later sold the fairy on eBay for £280.
- RISKS Digest publishes a special April 1st issue.
- Slashdot unveiled a new pink "OMG PONIES" theme in 2006.
- NationStates runs an annual hoax on April 1st. In 2004, the hoax was that there was a population bug and all nations' populations would be reset to 5 million people. In 2005, there was a message (supposedly from the Department of Homeworld Security) that NationStates was illegal by US law. In 2006, 'NationDates' was created. It used a quiz similar to the one taken at the sign-up page, and matched that nation with a random country in the same region. In 2007, many users received "Regional moderator" icons with the promise that they would be able to "wield their awesome power" over other users.
- Neopets has performed numerous April Fools' jokes, including releasing 50 new pets, abolishing Neopoints completely, and charging Neopoints to use the site.
- Water on Mars: In 2005 a news story was posted on the official NASA website purporting to have pictures of water on Mars. The picture actually was just a picture of a glass of water on a Mars Candy Bar.
- Homestar Runner creators, The Brothers Chaps, now regularly put up April Fools' jokes, such as the most recent one in which the entire site was flipped upside-down.
- Assassination of Bill Gates: In 2003, many Chinese and South Korean websites claimed that CNN reported Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, was assassinated, resulting in a 1.5% drop in the Korean stock market.
- Throughout production of the 2005 remake of King Kong, director Peter Jackson produced behind-the-scenes featurettes for the Internet providing updates on the project. On April 1, 2005, Jackson (aided by cast members, crew members, and even a studio representative) announced that King Kong would be followed by a sequel, Son of Kong, which would see Kong's offspring battling Nazis after being equipped with shoulder mounted machine guns. Jackson went so far as to have faux production drawings and computer animation test footage created for the film. The joke report was later included on the Peter Jackson's Production Diaries DVD set but was not identified as an April Fools' joke; it is incumbent upon the viewer to notice the date of the installment.
- Rock band Tool publishes an April Fools' joke every year on their website. For example, in 2005 Tool announced that their singer Maynard James Keenan had found religion and quit the music business. Also in 1997, a serious tour bus crash was reported to have taken place.
- Andrew Carlssin was a hoax created by the Weekly World News about a time-traveling man, that was later printed on Yahoo News as an April Fools' Joke.
- Maddox once pulled an infamous April Fools' Day joke on April 1, 2004, on his site, The Best Page In The Universe. The site had a completely different design, including imagery that represents everything he usually is against, and also misspelling several words and using chat-based acronyms such as "LOL" all throughout. However, each page's address featured an 'af' in it somewhere, indicating it was an April Fools' joke. Despite this small but obvious clue, several fans fell for the joke, some even claiming they will never visit the site again. Four days later on April 5, Maddox posted an article titled "How do you dumbasses manage to breathe?" The original April Fools' page can be seen here. The rebuttal article can be viewed here.
- SARS Infects Hong Kong: In 2003 during the time when Hong Kong was seriously hit by SARS, it was rumored that many people in Hong Kong had become infected with SARS and become uncontrolled, that all immigration ports would be closed to quarantine the region, and that Tung Chee Hwa, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong at that time, had resigned. Hong Kong supermarkets were immediately overwhelmed by panicked shoppers. The Hong Kong government held a press conference to deny the rumor. The rumor, which was intended as an April Fools' prank, was started by a student by imitating the design of Ming Pao newspaper website. He was charged for this incident.
- Online Retailer ThinkGeek usually replace their main page with a page containing "Featured Items" that are a joke. The page looks, feels and functions just like their real one, however the items featured are hoax and do not exist. Such items have included "Inhalable Caffeine Sticks", a USB pregnancy test kit, and an alarm clock which wirelessly connects to your PC to log into your internet banking, and send funds to a charity. Adding any of these items to your shopping cart takes you to a page stating that the item is a hoax.
- Facebook and the News-Feed: On April 1, 2007, Facebook posted fake updates on the News-feed page reading:
- "Introducing LivePoke! Facebook will dispatch a real live person today to poke a friend of your choice. (offer good for only the first 100 pokers in each network)"
- "Harry and Voldemort have set their relationship status to 'Mortal Enemies.'"
- "You are on Facebook, reading your News Feed."
- "Meredith and McDreamy have changed their relationship status to 'It's Complicated' ... oh wait ... 'In a Relationship' ... oh wait ... 'It's Complicated' again."
- "Two of your oxen drowned when you tried to ford the river."
- "Bracket Buster: Ohio State and Florida have mutually agreed on a tie and will not play the championship game."
- Changing the copyrights from "a Mark Zuckerberg production" to a random Facebook employees' name or the user's own.
- In 2007, wordpress.com set up their main page so that when logged in, your latest post would appear as 'Blog Of The Minute'. This raised several questions on their support forums.
- www.howstuffworks.com does an annual bogus article. In 2006, it was "How Animated Tattoos Work"; in 2007 "How Phone Cell Implants Work".
- Motoshi Sakriboto: In 2007, the Square Enix fansite Square Haven reported that game music composers Motoi Sakuraba and Hitoshi Sakimoto had announced a merger. The resulting amalgamated life form was named Motoshi Sakriboto. The hoax played off the fact that when rival role-playing game developers Square and Enix merged on April 1, 2003, many believed the news to be an April Fools' joke.
- Club Penguin's April Fool's Day parties have always changed almost all of Club Penguin. In the 2008 one, the iceberg looked like a cup of ice water, and the dock was changed to an super fast ice rink, as well as the forest going completely upside down and the cove having various effects. Also, several buildings' graphics looked as if they had been drawn with crayons, pencils, or as if they had been rapidly made with Microsoft paint.
Lists of April Fool hoaxes
- April 1, 1999
- April 1, 2000
- April 1, 2002
- April 1, 2003
- April 1, 2004
- April 1, 2005
- April 1, 2006
- April 1, 2007
- April 1, 2008
Although there have been many hoaxes, there has been much news on April 1st, that many first thought was a hoax:
The frequency of April Fool hoaxes sometimes makes people doubt real news stories released on 1 April.
Residents running from an approaching tsunami in Hilo, Hawaii
The 1 April 1946 Aleutian Island earthquake tsunami that killed 165 people on Hawaii and Alaska resulted in the creation of a tsunami warning system (specifically the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre), established in 1949 for Pacific Ocean area countries. The tsunami in question is known in Hawaii as the "April Fools' Day Tsunami" due to people drowning because of the assumptions that the warnings were an April Fools' prank.
The 2005 death of comedian Mitch Hedberg was originally dismissed as an April Fools' joke. The comedian's March 29, 2005 death was announced on March 31, but many newspapers didn't carry the story until April 1, 2005.
Gmail's April 2004 launch was widely believed to be a prank, as Google traditionally perpetrates April Fool's Day hoaxes each April 1 (see Google's hoaxes.) Another Google-related event that turned out not to be a hoax occurred on April 1, 2007, when employees at Google's New York City office were alerted that a ball python kept in an engineer's cubicle had escaped and was on the loose. An internal e-mail acknowledged that "the timing…could not be more awkward" but that the snake's escape was in fact an actual occurrence and not a prank.
The game Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games was announced only a couple days before April Fools Day so many thought that Mario and Sonic together for the very first time was a joke.
Disclaimer: ALL ABOVE INFORMATION FROM WIKIPEDIA
So stay safe today, and make any and all pranks, hoaxes, etc. hilarious but SAFE! Be gentle and be kind!