April Fool’s Day: A Silly Legacy

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Ah, April Fool’s Day! It’s day in which all folks, friends and foes alike partake in harmless to really-frickin-sweet-but-friendship-ending pranks across the world. According to the Huffington Post, the history of the day is kinda sketchy (it appears in literature like Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and other literary stuff), but presently the origins couldn’t mean anything less, as it’s basically the Day of the Asshole. And I love it.

April Fool’s Day

I recall, though, never being able to pull a prank that was up to the ridiculous standard most Americans set themselves. My best was, as a child, moving all the living room furniture to the kitchen and all the kitchen furniture to the living room, all whilst my parents slumbered. They were furious, I was giggly, but all was well because April Fool’s is a free pass (more or less). I never did anything like put saran wrap over the toilet, hoping for many a splash and angry squeal, but I heard legends from the grinning mouths of my friends.

Turns out, though, all my pranks were sad simulacra of real glory. Below are some of the greatest pranks ever pulled.

If you recall, in 2007 Google felt like being super silly and releasing a fake ad campaign for Google Paper, delivering printouts of emails and such. No matter how ridiculous this sounded, people ate it up, and there was clamoring for the service all over the net. Also, in 2008, they released the scratch and sniff function on certain Google searches, and especially on Google Books, and that was super, super funny (I recall one friend trying desperately to get me to click on it, even after I’d said it was a prank). Well done, Google, well done.

Google scratch and sniff


Another fantastic prank was the spaghetti trees incident. In the UK in 1957, the BBC decided to have a load of fun and brought a camera crew to Switzerland to film ladies picking fully cooked pasta off of trees. After this segment was aired, thousands of people called to ask about purchasing their very own spaghetti tree, even after the whole thing was defined as a hoax by newscasters. This was pretty fantastic. I feel like people would believe that one now (Monsanto, now’s your cue).

Spaghetti Tree


One of my favorites was perpetrated by Taco Bell, the lords of the drunken munchie. In 1996, they bought a lot of ad space in major newspapers and published a spread proclaiming they’d purchased the Liberty Bell. Tons of folks believed it and, not only that, were really, patriotically angry at Taco Bell and complained enough to get the fast food restaurant chain to admit to the prank before the day was out. Makes me want a Crunch Wrap Supreme (oops, I’m in Spain). Also, look up the Left Handed Whopper prank by Burger King. Sheer asshole-craft.

Then there’s the amazing Sidd Finch story in Sports Illustrated in 1985. Writer George Plimpton fooled sports fans everywhere with a detailed expose on a mysterious pitcher (or French horn player, perhaps) who could throw a 168mph per hour fastball, having learned the skills in Tibet. The enigmatic player (Sidd being short for Siddhartha, which was brilliant), was apparently in training with the New York Mets, and inspired a whole bunch of fan interest and later controversy. I especially love this one because of all the weird details Plimpton included in the expose (later a full blown book), including that batters were growing afraid of this thunderously fast pitcher. Awesomeness, pure and simple.

My favorite prank of all time, though, was in 2008. IGN released a very well made trailer for a live action The Legend of Zelda film, and fans everywhere (including me, I’ll admit) were filled with joy. The geniuses at IGN posted on the second of the month that the whole thing was a sham, and said fans were filled not with joy, but with bitter disappointment. Turns out it was a really awesome looking trailer. Had me convinced… Epic.

IGN Legend of Zelada Trailer


If you’re searching for some ideas, and these above have inspired you, I’ve got a couple if you still think you have time to pull an epic prank or two.

First off, try gift-wrapping an entire room of your house or apartment. That, or you can take a hot glue gun and randomly select stuff to glue to other stuff (this prank lasts for up to two weeks, as the recipient of said malice will continue to find stuff glued to other stuff and be really mad about it). Hilarious and mean. Or, try the classic “small water cups surrounding someone’s bed” thing. It’s easy to pull off, but make sure you know it’s a standard, not my own.

Then, if you are really mean but awesome, and have a twin or two, act really like each other, and suggest that you’re pulling a prank as each other, but have the payoff be the other people involved getting so confused that eventually their sanity breaks (and it was just you all along!). And if you’re insane, make a bunch of DVDs of Whoopi Goldberg films spliced with the intros to porn flicks (“yeah dirty girl, take it off, wait… Sister Act II?!?”), and tape the DVDs goddamn everywhere. You’ll be the king of the assholes forever. Happy April Fool’s Day, you brilliant jerks!

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