April 1st, also referred to as All Fools' Day, is one of the most light-hearted days of the year. On this day in 1700, English pranksters begin popularizing the annual tradition of April Fools’ Day by playing practical jokes on each other. April Fools' Day is observed throughout the Western world. Practices include sending someone on a "fool's errand," looking for things that don't exist; playing pranks; and trying to get people to believe ridiculous things.
Historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. There were people who had not received the news or refused to recognize the start of the new year moving to January 1, as they continued to celebrate during the last week of March through April 1, which made them the butt of jokes and hoaxes. Some having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as "poisson d'avril" (April Fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish.
In Scotland, an April fool is called an April “gowk” (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool). In England, a fool is called a gob, gawby or gobby.
The media can’t resist getting into the act.... In 1933 the "Madison Capitol-Times" announced that the capitol building had collapsed due to a series of explosions causing "large quantities of gas, generated through many weeks of verbose debate in the Senate and Assembly chambers." Those with a sense of humor laughed while others were outraged.
On April 1,1957, a Richard Dimbleby “news report” aired on BBC’s Panorama. Stating with Spring coming early that year, after a mild winter, there would be unusually large spaghetti harvest in Switzerland. The BBC showed footage of Swiss farmers harvesting noodles from trees. According to the Museum of Hoaxes, “Huge numbers of viewers were taken in.
Many called the BBC 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.’”
Sports Illustrated in 1985 tricked many of its readers running a made-up article about a rookie pitcher, Sidd Finch, who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour.
National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation” in 1992, announced that Richard Nixon was running for a second term as president with the slogan, “I didn’t do anything wrong, and I won’t do it again.” Listeners called in in droves as they were fooled.
In 1993, the “Arm the Homeless” coalition sent a press release to a Columbus, Ohio newspaper saying:
“The Arm the Homeless Coalition will be collecting donations to provide firearms for the homeless of Columbus... Funds are to be used to provide arms, ammunition and firearm safety training for homeless individuals who pass the coalition’s rigorous screening. Homeless are selected for the program on the basis of need, mental and emotional stability, and potential value to society at large.
In 1996, Taco Bell ran an ad in six major newspapers saying:
“In an effort to help the national debt, Taco Bell is pleased to announce that we have agreed to purchase the Liberty Bell, one of our country’s most historic treasures. It will now be called the ‘Taco Liberty Bell’ and will still be accessible to the American public for viewing. While some may find this controversial, we hope our move will prompt other corporations to take similar action to do their part to reduce the country’s debt.”
Politicians’ offices were even taken in, as the Park Service received phone calls from aides to Sens. Bill Bradley (D-NJ) and J. James Exon (D-Neb).
Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper,” in 1998 with scores of clueless customers requesting the fake sandwich.
The style of April Fools’ pranks have changed over the years, while most still enjoy sending the unsuspecting on pointless errands and catching friends or family with practical jokes....We would like to wish all a Fun, Safe and Happy April Fools' Day 2017.