The Museum of Hoaxes
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We've researched the entire history of April Fool's Day and selected its top 100 hoaxes ever, as judged by creativity, historical significance, the number of people duped, and notoriety. The first version of this list was created in the late 1990s. Over the years it's been revised a number of times, based upon reader feedback and ongoing research. The most recent major revision occurred in March 2015.

Other April Fool resources at the Museum include: the April Fool Archive (a year-by-year archive of the entire history of the celebration), the April Fool FAQ, and the Top 10 Worst April Fools Ever. Also, you can find more info about most of the hoaxes in the Top 100 list by clicking their title or thumbnail.
The Top 100:   100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1
#80: Belgium Divides
April 1, 1992: The London Times reported that formal negotiations were underway to divide Belgium in half. The Dutch-speaking north would join the Netherlands and the French-speaking south would join France. An editorial in the paper lamented that, "The fun will go from that favorite parlor game: Name five famous Belgians." The report fooled many, including the British foreign office minister, Tristan Garel-Jones, who almost went on a TV interview prepared to discuss this "important" story. The Belgian embassy also received numerous calls from journalists and expatriate Belgians seeking to confirm the news. A rival paper later criticized the prank, saying that, "The Times's effort could only be defined as funny if you find the very notion of Belgium hilarious."
#79: Frogs Meet Wave
April 1, 1906: The front page of the Wichita Daily Eagle carried news of an astounding natural phenomena. A huge wave, eleven-feet high, was moving southward down the Arkansas River. Simultaneously, a giant mass of millions of frogs, spanning a distance of over eleven miles, was migrating northward up the river. The two (wave and frogs) were predicted to meet at Wichita at around 10 o'clock that morning. The report brought out thousands of Kansans who lined the banks of the river, eager to see such a once-in-a-lifetime event. When, after three hours, the wonder never materialized, it occurred to the crowd what day it was, and they dispersed quietly back to their homes.
#78: Operation Parallax
April 1, 1979: London's Capital Radio announced that Operation Parallax would soon go into effect. This was a government plan to resynchronize the British calendar. The station explained that, ever since 1945, Britain had gradually become 48 hours ahead of the rest of the world because of the constant switching back and forth from British Summer Time. To remedy this situation, the government had decided to cancel April 5 and 12 that year. Capital Radio was flooded with calls as a result of the announcement. One employer wanted to know if she had to pay her employees for the missing days. Another woman was curious about what would happen to her birthday, which fell on one of the cancelled days.
#77: All Fools Preferred
April 1, 1922: A new stock named "A.F.P." appeared on the bulletin board of the Detroit stock exchange. Little was known about it except that the initials were rumored to stand for "American Fire Protection." Despite the relative mystery, the new listing prompted lively trading. It opened at six, rose rapidly to 12, dropped down to 2, and finally climbed back upward to 8, where it remained. But eventually someone thought to contact the Michigan Securities Commission to ask if this new stock had been sanctioned by them. They responded that "A.F.P." was not authorized, so sales of it were illegal and each broker was responsible for his own losses. At which point, word got around that the initials actually stood for "April Fool Preferred" or "All Fools Preferred." The identity of the prankster who listed it on the board was never discovered.

#76: The Derbyshire Mummified Fairy
In late March 2007, Dan Baines posted on his website images of an 8-inch, winged creature, explaining that it had been found in Derbyshire by a man walking his dog, and that it had eventually been brought to him for analysis, since he was known in the area as a paranormal expert. So what was this thing? Baines speculated it might be a mummified fairy. Because the Internet loves a mystery, the images quickly went viral, with the result that by April 1 his site was receiving tens of thousands of visitors a day. Some wrote to him claiming they had found similar creatures. Others were mad that he had revealed its location. But at the close of April 1, Baines admitted it was all a hoax. He had made the fairy himself. (He was a professional prop maker.) But the public's fascination with the creature refused to die. Many rejected his confession, dismissing it as a cover-up to hide the real truth. Seven years later, because of continuing interest in the fairy, Baines successfully funded a 'make your own mummified fairy kit' on Kickstarter.
#75: Migrant Mother Makeover
The April 2005 issue of Popular Photography included an article titled "Can these photos be saved?" about how to remove unsightly wrinkles from photographic subjects. The editors offered Dorothea Lange's famous "Migrant Mother" photo (taken in 1936 during the Great Depression) as an example of a photographic subject suffering from the signs of stress. The editors erased her wrinkles, softened her gaze, and removed her kids, transforming her from an iconic symbol of endurance into something closer to a smooth-faced, worry-free soccer mom. Readers were horrified. Hundreds of them wrote in expressing outrage that the magazine would think such a classic image "needed to be saved." To which the editors replied: Look at the date it was published!
#74: King's College Choir Uses Helium
April 1, 2014: The renowned King's College Choir is not known for farce. This made it noteworthy when they released a video announcing that complex regulations had made it impractical to continue featuring young boys in the choir, and that they had been forced to find other ways to replicate the high pitch of the boys' preadolescent voices. Because the older choral scholars had vetoed the "surgical solution," the choir leaders had finally adopted a suggestion made by a colleague in the Chemistry Department — use helium. The video, demonstrating the use of helium during a performance, generated almost 1 million views on YouTube.
#73: Viagra For Hamsters
April 1, 2000: The Independent reported that Florida researchers had developed a Viagra-like pill to treat sexually frustrated pets, including hamsters. Veterinarians were said to have greeted the news with derision, but the article pointed out that there are few things as sad as a pet suffering from feelings of sexual inadequacy, noting, "It's not unknown for a guinea pig to sit in its cage thinking, 'I haven't had sex for months. Am I so unattractive?'" Owners were instructed to simply grind the pills up and sprinkle them in the pet's food. Laying some newspaper down on the floor once the pills began to take effect was also advised. The pills were to be marketed under the brand name Feralmone.
#72: Space Shuttle Lands in San Diego
April 1, 1993: Dave Rickards, a DJ at KGB-FM in San Diego, announced that the space shuttle Discovery had been diverted from Edwards Air Force Base and would soon be landing at Montgomery Field, a small airport in the suburbs of San Diego. Thousands of commuters immediately headed towards the location — cameras, camcorders, and folding chairs in hand — hoping to witness the landing. So many people showed up that traffic was brought to a standstill, requiring the police to start directing cars away from the airport. Of course, there were some clues that the announcement was a hoax. For instance, Montgomery Field is too small for large aircraft to land there, let alone a space shuttle. Also, there wasn't a shuttle in orbit at the time. The police weren't amused by the prank. They made it known that they would be billing the radio station for the cost of forcing officers to direct traffic.
#71: Qualcomm's Wolf Pigeon
April 1, 2009: Telecommunications company Qualcomm unveiled a plan to expand wireless coverage by implanting tiny base-stations into pigeons hybridized with wolves (wolf-pigeons). Their reason for using this hybrid creature was that the wolf-pigeons could fly overhead but simultaneously be self-defensible, form packs when needed, and go out as "lone wolves" to areas without coverage. However, the company confessed that their plan had encountered some problems requiring a series of fixes. Because the wolf-pigeons tended to run amok, it had been necessary to create "Shark Falcons" to keep them under control. And to control the Shark Falcons, in turn, Qualcomm engineers had drafted plans to create a Crocodeagle (crocodile-eagle hybrid). The video press release probably fooled few people. Nevertheless, the escalating absurdity of the technological fixes, coupled with the earnest sincerity with which they were described, quickly made the video a popular favorite, elevating it to classic status.
The Top 100:   100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1

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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.