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April Fool’s Day: A Historical Look

March 30, 2012 by Cristina Habersetzer in Play with 0 Comments

Although the origins are uncertain, one thing’s for sure… April Fool’s Day is one of the most fun days of the year.  One explanation for the source of this holiday began as far back as ancient Rome, which celebrated New Year’s Day on April 1st. However, in 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar to replace the old Roman, Julian Calendar, the new year was to begin on January 1st. Because some people either refused to accept it or hadn’t heard of the change, they continued to celebrate the  New Year on April 1st, prompting others to make fun of these “traditionalists” by trying to trick them into believing something false.

Today, many cultures take part in this day of jokes and hoaxes. In some countries like Canada, UK, Australia and South Africa, jokes customarily end before noon. In others like the US, Germany, South Korea and Brazil, the jokes can last all day.

To get in the mood for some pranks of your own, we’ve compiled a list of the top four most famous April Fool’s Day hoaxes of all time.

The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest – In 1957 the BBC convinced their viewers that the Swiss spaghetti harvest was underway. Footage showed farmers pulling spaghetti noodles from trees. Some intrigued viewers called the studio to find out how they could grow their own spaghetti tree.

The Taco Liberty Bell – In 1996 Taco Bell ran a full page ad in six newspapers announcing the purchase of the Liberty Bell. The ad informed people that Taco Bell would rename this piece of history the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of angry people called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia to complain.

The Left-Handed Whopper – In 1998 Burger King took out a full page ad in USA Today to advertise their new Left-Handed Whopper to address the troubles of nearly 1.4 million left-handed customers. It claimed the condiments were rotated 180 degrees to better suit the left-handed burger enthusiast. People lined up to purchase burgers that day, making sure to specify if they wanted the regular or left-handed version.

Nessie’s Body Recovered – In 1972 newspapers throughout the world announced the dead body of the Loch Ness Monster had been found. The report said a team of zoologists had happened upon the carcass while searching for signs of the monster’s existence. They placed the 15-foot long body in their van before local police chased them down for breaking a law created by Parliament in 1933 prohibiting the removal of unidentified creatures. The police took the body to Dunfermline for examination where scientists discovered it was actually a bull elephant seal from the South Atlantic. The next week, a colleague of the zoologists who happened upon the body came forward to explain he’d intended to play a practical joke on his coworkers by shaving the whiskers and stuffing stones in the cheeks of a seal that had died of natural causes the previous week. He’d placed the body in the Loch for them to find.

Have a favorite famous hoax you’d like to share? Send it to us in the comments!

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