Remember any of these classic April Fools’ Day hoaxes?
For people with money matters on their minds, this is a pretty significant time of the year. As March turns to April, many of us are trying to decide how the Budget might affect us – or wondering if we can afford to top up ISAs ahead of the new tax year.
But the start of April isn’t all about the serious stuff. In fact, 1st April is one day of the year when you certainly shouldn’t take everything you hear seriously. To help you keep vigilant – or just for fun, to be honest – we’re recalling some of our all-time favourite April Fools’ Day hoaxes....
It doesn’t grow on trees, you know
The most famous April Fools’ hoax of all is also one of the oldest. Back in 1957, respected BBC broadcaster Richard Dimbleby introduced TV viewers to the trials and tribulations of the annual spaghetti harvest. Keeping an entirely straight face, he explained how an army of spaghetti pluckers pick strands of the pasta from the trees where they grow.
It’s a measure of how far we’ve come that many people thought of spaghetti as an impossibly exotic food and had no idea where it came from. Some even asked where they could buy a spaghetti bush.
Fools in free fall
The late Sir Patrick Moore always conducted himself with an air of gravity when he presented The Sky at Night. Which made it all the more believable when he announced that an amazing astronomical event would occur on 1st April 1976.
As Pluto passed behind Jupiter, the Earth’s gravity would be temporarily restricted by the alignment of the planets. So if Sir Patrick’s Radio 2 listeners were to jump off the ground at the exact moment of alignment, they would mysteriously begin to float into the air. Strangely enough, a lot of people were left thinking that they mustn’t have timed their leap quite perfectly.
Short back and bearskin
The British Army’s Soldier magazine declared war on common sense in April 1980, when it published photos of guardsmen taking their bearskin headgear helmets to the regimental barber for a quick trim. Because the headgear was made from Russian bearskin, the magazine explained, the fur kept on growing for many years when placed in a warmer climate. This was due to the retention of essential hormones and fats.
Telling a whopper
Burger King forked out for a full page newspaper ad in 1998 to announce the launch of its ‘Left-Handed Whopper’. The new version of its top-selling burger had supposedly rotated all its ingredients through 180 degrees for the convenience of left-handed diners. Thousands of customers – no doubt also owners of left-handed screwdrivers – queued up to try them.
Google flushed with success
Since the advent of the internet the April Fools’ Day hoax has plumbed new depths. Google’s regular forays into the world of the unbelievable are particularly keenly awaited each year. Perhaps their finest effort came in 2007, when the California-based giant announced a new wireless broadband service run through the sewers. Yes, the sewers.
TiSP – Toilet Internet Service Provider – was described as ‘a self-installed, ad-supported online service that will be offered entirely free to any consumer with a Wi-Fi-capable PC and a toilet connected to a local municipal sewage system.’
To launch the service, all you needed to do was flush a fibre-optic cable down the loo.
All roads lead to Rick
The phenomenon of ‘Rickrolling’ – clicking on a link to a video of your choice only to be diverted to Rick Astley singing Never Gonna Give You Up – isn’t just confined to April Fools’ Day. But it was on 1st April 2008 that the craze reached its most ludicrous extreme, when every featured video link on YouTube’s front page magically led to Rick. The most annoying April Fool’s Day prank of all time?
Anyway, here’s a link to an interesting article about April Fool’s tricks.
Pigs might fly... but penguins?
Finally, our favourite. You’d probably imagine that you’d be safe from April foolery on a BBC natural history series entitled Miracles of Evolution. But the fact that the first programme in the ‘series’ aired on 1st April, with ex-Monty Python star Terry Jones as the presenter, should probably have raised suspicions.
Jones and his crew presented footage of a colony of truly remarkable Adélie penguins which they had discovered on King George Island off the Antarctic Peninsula. It’s well worth a look.
Back to the serious stuff
Joking apart, there really is more to think about at this time of the year than avoiding April Fools’ pranks!
And please do rest assured that our site is completely free of April Fools’ hoaxes or links which lead to Rick Astley!