The Museum of Hoaxes
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April Fool's Day, 2005
Migrant Mother Makeover. (2005)
Popular Photography Magazine ran a special feature on how to touch up photos in which subjects have unsightly wrinkles or unattractive expressions. "Can these photos be saved?" the article asked. One of the examples used was Dorothea Lange's famous Depression-era photo of a "Migrant Mother" huddling with her children in a roadside camp outside Nipomo, California. Under the masterful touch of Popular Photography editors, the Migrant Mother was transformed from an iconic symbol of the struggle for survival into a smooth-faced suburban soccer mom. The makeover, intended as a joke, provoked hundreds of outraged letters from readers. More…
Steve Jobs Joins IKEA. (2005)
The Register reported that Steve Jobs was going to take command of the retail giant IKEA, while maintaining his role as CEO of both Apple Computer and Pixar. Jobs intended to shake-up IKEA's "flatpack self-assembly aesthetic" by introducing "high margin, ready-assembled furniture." Jobs, known to be a fruitarian, also intended to makeover IKEA's canteen by eliminating the "celebrated Swedish meatballs," replacing them with "a thin miso soup garnished by a solitary piece of carrot or tofu."
Google Gulp. (2005)
Google branched out into a new product area with the announcement of Google Gulp, a high-tech "smart drink" that featured a DNA scanner embedded in the lip of the bottle that would read "all 3 gigabytes of your base pair genetic data in a fraction of a second, fine-tuning your individual hormonal cocktail in real time using our patented Auto-Drink™ technology, and slamming a truckload of electrolytic neurotransmitter smart-drug stimulants past the blood-brain barrier to achieve maximum optimization of your soon-to-be-grateful cerebral cortex." Plus, the company added, "it's low in carbs!" More…
Apollo Bacteria Cause Lunar Erosion. (2005)
Nature.com reported that images of the Moon taken by the Floating Optical Orbital Lens (F.O.O.L.) revealed that bacteria left behind by the Apollo lunar mission was causing the moon to disintegrate. "Images of the lunar surface reveal deep cracks and holes that are slowly but surely releasing gas and dust into space. 'This is serious,' says Brad Kawalkowizc, an astrogeologist from the Sprodj Atomic Research Centre in Belgium, who has analysed the pictures. 'There really is less Moon up there than there used to be.' If the process continues, he adds, the Moon could eventually crumble away to nothing." More…
Undergoos. (2005)
Searchguild, a search-engine optimization company, debuted Undergoos.com, a Google parody. The Undergoos site claimed to allow internet users to search for and organize underwear. It had the motto: "Underwear by Google - Supporting 8,058,044,651 bosoms." "Just like our original motto 'Just search,' everything we do at UnderGoos is 'Just pants' (yes, we know that's not strictly true but it's an ethos thing). All of our underwear was carefully selected using PageRank(TM) (a uniquely democratic measure of how attractive Larry finds the model wearing them)." More…
Bush Twins Enlist. (2005)
The Register announced that, in a surprise move, the Bush twins had announced their decision to enroll in the military and serve in Iraq. Jenna Bush was quoted as saying: "We all understood that my sister and I had been called to set this example of hope and optimism for all of America and the world beyond. And we knew as well that it would be a disgrace and a scandal for us not to accept freely the consequences of our father's decision to go to war on behalf of freedom and liberty. How could my sister and I, in good conscience, allow other Americans to shoulder this burden if we were not just as willing?... How could our parents allow it? What a terrible message to send! Well, fortunately, that's not the way we Bushes are made. We have a long history of public service and personal sacrifice."

Prince Charles Goes Lingerie Shopping. (2005)
The Daily Mail published pictures of Prince Charles visiting a lingerie shop to pick out gifts for Camilla: "He is caught pondering over a matching camisole and apparently seeking advice from his young son Prince Harry on the delicate question of how one should invite one's wife to turn one on." More…
Wave for the Google satellite. (2005)
An announcement was posted on Slashdot urging individuals to stand outside and waveso that their picture could be taken by the new Google satellite passing overhead: "Google's recent purchase of Keyhole and its jaw-dropping 3D earth-browsing software has apparently netted them ownership of an imaging satellite as well, now named 'gSat.' This Friday, April 1st, gSat will be capturing a new dataset (neighborhood of 1meter/pixel), passing over each time zone between 10 and 11AM. If you stand outside and wave you will supposedly show up as a blurry fleck." More…
BMW Uninvents the Wheel. (2005)
BMW warned that by the end of 2007 right-hand drive cars would be banned throughout mainland Europe. In response, their engineers had developed "hands-free steering" that used "a combination of sensors and VAT (Voice Activated Technology)" in order to do away with the steering wheel. "All the dials and controls are mounted in the centre of the dash on a pivoting section which can be angled towards either of the front seats..." However, it cautioned: "Early prototypes were prone to sudden U-turns if the driver swung round to shout at the children in the back." More…
Orchestra Steroid Scandal. (2005)
NPR also ran a story about the growing use of performance-enhancing drugs (steroids) in the world of music. It stated that: "Something is happening in the world of music. Musicians are playing faster, louder, and stronger than they ever have before… Rumors have been circulating for some time that just like in the world of sports performance enhancing drugs may be the cause." More…
Scientific American Concedes Creationists Might Be Right. (2005)
Scientific American ran an editorial, titled "Okay, we give up," revealing that the magazine would henceforward give equal space to the views of Creationists: "This magazine's coverage of so-called evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies… Where were the answering articles presenting the powerful case for scientific creationism? Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon? Blame the scientists." More…
Encyclopædia Britannica Buys Wikipedia. (2005)
Wikipedia announced it was being taken over by Encyclopædia Britannica, in exchange for a £133.7 million severance package given to each of the five trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation. One of the first changes was that Wikipedia would henceforward be spelled Wikipædia. In addition, users would be charged £99.97 to create or edit a page. More…
Left-Handed Golf Ball. (2005)
Sports manufacturer Dunlop announced plans to offer a golf ball designed specifically for left-handed players. Dunlop CEO Chris Ronnie explained: "Left-handed golf clubs are now commonplace, but no company has yet produced a left-handed golf ball... Many golfers mark their ball with an ink image or even a printed logo to help them focus on the ball at the position of address. The Dunlop Lefty will assist left-handed golfers with a strategically placed, ergonomically designed Dunlop arrow, which points from the left-hand side of the ball to the right, thus indicating the correct position of ball focus for the player." More…
USB Fondue. (2005)
Online retailer ThinkGeek.com announced the availability of the "Fundue," a desktop USB-powered fondue set — "a USB powered desktop culinary experience that will transform your lunches to a new realm." More…
Morality in the Design of Internet Protocols. (2005)
Adrian Farrel, a Routing Area Director in the Internet Engineering Task Force, authored an RFC (RFC 4041) arguing that morality should be considered in the design of internet protocols: "It is well accepted by popular opinion and other reliable metrics that moral values are declining and that degeneracy is increasing. Young people are particularly at risk from the rising depravity in society and much of the blame can be squarely placed at the door of the Internet... When new protocols or protocol extensions are developed within the Routing Area, it is often the case that not enough consideration is given to the impact of the protocol on the moral fiber of the Internet... this document defines requirements for the inclusion of Morality Considerations sections in all Internet-Drafts produced within the Routing Area. Meeting these requirements will ensure that proper consideration is given to moral issues at all stages of the protocol development process, from Requirements and Architecture, through Specification and Applicability."
Exploding Maple Trees. (2005)
NPR's All Things Considered ran a segment on a drop in maple syrup consumption, triggered by the low-carb craze, which supposedly was causing a serious problem for New England's maple-tree industry: exploding maple trees. The announcer reported: "An untapped tree is a time bomb ready to go off… The trees explode like gushers, causing injuries and sometimes death. If untended, quiet stands of Nature's sweeteners can turn into spindly demons of destruction. The Vermont Health Board reports 87 fatalities, 140 maimings, and a dozen decapitations, caused by sap-build-up explosions this year." More…
Giant Penguin. (2005)
Tokyo's Ueno Zoo announced that it had discovered a remarkable new species of penguin: A giant-sized creature called the Tonosama (Lord) Penguin, 165cm-tall and weighing 80kg. Its favorite food was "white fish meat with soy sauce." The giant penguin was revealed to the public on April 1, eliciting the following reaction from the other penguins: "As the cameras rolled, the real penguins rose their beaks and gazed up at the purported Lord - but then walked away disinterested when he took off his penguin face to reveal himself to be zoo director Teruyuki Komiya." More…
Water on Mars. (2005)
NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day site published photographic evidence of the discovery of water on Mars. More…
Gypsies at Windsor Castle. (2005)
The Sun reported that gypsies had set up camp on the Queen's lawn at Windsor Castle, claiming this as their right under a 650-year-old law. The gypsies claimed to be descended from the original builders of the castle who were given permission to pitch tents there by King Edward lll. The Queen was upset, but gypsy leader Ralph Fitteris tried to placate her by suggesting, "We could do her a good deal on tarmac." More…
Keep your roof open - or else!. (2005)
MINI Australia warned drivers of the MINI Cabrio that a detail of their contract specified that they always had to keep the roof of their car open, even during inclement weather. Failure to honor this contract would meet with severe punishment. The driver would be "ejected from their vehicle" and their car would be given to someone "willing to comply with the Contract." A team of specially trained MINI operatives, the MINI Roof Down Squad (M.R.D.S.), took to the streets of major Australian cities on April 1st in order to detect violations of the MINI Always Open Contract. More…
Opera SoundWave. (2005)
The Norwegian company Opera Software (maker of the Opera web browser) issued a press release announcing it had developed new "P2P speech technology" that used "analogue signals carried through open air, enabling users to communicate in real-time without the use of computers or mobile phones." It called this invention "SoundWave technology." It elaborated: "The new SoundWave technology was accidently discovered during an R&D study to speech-enable Opera's e-mail client. One of Opera's desktop developers needed to find an alternative way to relay a message to his colleague at a time when the e-mail server was down, and was startled to notice that his verbal outcry was intercepted and More…
Sheep to Mow Wembley Stadium. (2005)
The Mirror announced that sheep were going to be used to mow the lawn at Wembley Stadium: "Their grazing will toughen the turf's roots when it is not being regularly used… Players have had less allergic reactions because the natural fertiliser of droppings has reduced the need for chemicals… Wembley National Stadium Ltd said: 'It's based on methods going back centuries. We are not being taken for fools.'"
Scratch’n'Sniff Credit Cards. (2005)
Virgin Money of Australia announced the introduction of barbecue-scented scratch'n'sniff credit cards: "The scratched 'aroma' will embody the spirit of Australia, reminding owners of a freshly barbequed snag. Virgin Money expects the new card to be particularly popular amongst Aussies travelling overseas who are seeking a mouth-watering memento to remind them of home."
MINI Pullman Edition. (2005)
MINI USA debuted a special new model of its car, the "MINI Pullman," adapted to ride on domestic gauge rail lines throughout North America: "In conjunction with the North American railway system, an exclusive right-of-way has been authorized for the specially equipped MINI to commute via rail during peak hours in major urban centers... The MINI Pullman comes fitted with a special wheel package that easily locks onto standard gauge rail thus allowing MINIs to corner on the roads and the rails with equal aplomb. An upgraded dual air-horn warning system comes standard on the model to alert inattentive pedestrians and vehicles as the MINI Pullman enters into crossing gate areas." More…
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.