Every April Fool's Day the ritual is the same. Outrageously false stories issued by a variety of sources such as corporations, non-profit organizations, journalists, and politicians appear in the media. The challenge for all of us is to sort out the April Foolery from the weird stuff that's actually true. And every year this gets harder as reality itself becomes more surreal, blurring the line between Foolery and Fact.
Listed below are sixteen claims that have been made in the media. Approximately half the claims were April Fool's Day jokes. The other half were real news stories. Can you tell the difference between the two?
For each question, select either TRUE or APRIL FOOLS. When you've made a selection for all of the questions, a box will appear at the bottom of the test that will allow you to see how well you did.
1: Don't Disturb the Squirrels
In 1993 city officials in Cologne, Germany imposed a new regulation on people jogging through the city park. Runners were required to pace themselves to go no faster than six mph. Any faster, the city officials cautioned, could disturb the squirrels who were in the middle of their mating season.
2: Corporate Tattoos
The Pepsi-Cola Company, in search of more innovative ways to reach out to young consumers, once experimented with offering teenagers an intriguing deal. The company sponsored teenagers to tattoo themselves with its corporate logo. In return for permanently branding themselves, the teenagers received a lifetime 10% discount on the company's products. Teenagers were said to have responded enthusiastically to the offer.
3: Crustless Bread
For those who just can't stand the taste of crusts, and are too lazy to cut them off themselves, Sara Lee introduced in 2002 the ultimate in convenience: crustless bread. Available in stores everywhere!
4: Pet Tax
The city of Philadelphia, faced with a looming budget shortfall, last year announced a new tax targeted at pet owners. The owners will be charged a base fee of $10 per pet, and then $1 extra for every additional pound the pet weighs over ten pounds. Failure to pay the tax could result in the euthanization of the pet.
5: Chicken Manure-Powered Electrical Plant
In 1991 Mitsubishi Bank contacted venture capitalists about an exciting new investment opportunity: Fibropower, a 14-megawatt generating plant fueled entirely by chicken poop. Finally, the investment prospectus boasted, a way to put unwanted chicken manure to good use. Suggestions that this was a chickens**t idea were ignored.
6: Prehistoric Penguin Murals
In 1991 prehistoric murals were discovered on the walls of an underwater cave in eastern France revealing that penguins and man once lived side-by-side in that region. Historians, accustomed to seeing prehistoric depictions of animals such as bison and deer, were extremely surprised to find the penguins.
7: Alabama Changes Value of Pi
In 1998 the Alabama state legislature voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi from 3.14159 to the Biblical value of 3.0. NASA engineers in Huntsvile, Alabama were reportedly disturbed by the decision.
8: Vodka Bars
Recently a Russian beverage company announced a new product designed to appeal more specifically to Russian tastes: chewy Vodka bars. The company hopes the candy bars will compete successfully against popular western imports such as Mars and Snickers bars. The Vodka bars will be available in lemon, coconut, and salted cucumber flavors.
9: Bank Teller Fees
In 1999 a Connecticut-based bank announced that due to rising costs it would be forced to charge a $5 fee every time a customer visited a live teller. The bank promised that the fee would actually help to improve the quality of customer service.
10: The Tooth Telephone
Engineers recently unveiled the world's first tooth telephone, perfect for those who want to talk hands-free while on the go. When implanted into a tooth, the tiny device vibrates to let the user know there's a call. Users speak normally, and the tiny microphone picks up their voice. Incoming sounds are transferred to the inner ear by means of bone resonance.
11: Karate experts collect bus fares
Faced with a growing number of unruly passengers, one town in Ukraine recently adopted a unique solution: Karate-trained fare collectors. The number of passengers trying to ride without paying was said to be down sharply ever since the new collectors were introduced.
12: Operation Fake Tourist
Convinced that word of mouth is the best form of advertising, Sony announced last year that it will hire actors to use the company's new camera at major tourist attractions. While posing as tourists, the actors will ask random passersby to take their picture with the Sony camera. Once a passerby agrees, the actors then begin to speak effusively about the features of the camera.
13: Whistling Carrots
Tired of overcooking the carrots? Now there's a solution. British scientists announced last year the development of a genetically modified 'whistling carrot.' Tapered airholes inside the carrot cause it to whistle when properly cooked.
14: Shark Breeding Experiment
In 1981 the National Biological Foundation released two thousand radio-tagged sharks (including blue sharks, hammerheads, and a few great whites) into selected Michigan lakes in order to study the cold-water breeding habits of the sharks. In the press release announcing the experiment, the Foundation suggested that local fishermen and swimmers should exercise caution around the sharks.
15: Carrots reclassified as a fruit
In 1979 officials in the European Union confirmed what many have long suspected: that carrots are not, in fact, a vegetable, but are actually a variety of fruit. The officials urged that appropriate reclassification efforts should begin at once.
16: Purple Carrots
For those yearning to add a colorful splash to their meals, a British supermarket announced last year that it will soon be selling purple carrots. The store hopes that the new offering will appeal to fickle children who have grown bored by the orange variety.