Hoax Museum Blog: April Fools Day

Starting Gate for Sprinters? — I'm not sure whether or not this was an April Fool's Day joke. I found it in the Mar 31, 1934 issue of the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, which contained quite a few April Fool spoof articles, such as the "Loch Ness Monster Captured" article that I posted about recently. But this feature about a new starting gate for sprinters... I just don't know. I've never heard of such a thing before. But on the other hand, it sounds kinda plausible. In fact, some googling revealed that the…
Posted: Sun Dec 01, 2013.   Comments (3)

A Brief History of Prescription Windshields — I've been spending a lot of time recently adding to the April Fool archive, and in doing so I've noticed that a lot of April 1st jokes get repeated again and again over the years. One joke in particular caught my eye. In the past 20 years, prescription windshields (or windscreens, as the British say) have been the theme of corporate April Fool campaigns at least 4 separate times — and possibly more, for all I know. This made me wonder: how old is the 'prescription windshield' joke?
Posted: Fri Nov 01, 2013.   Comments (2)

Trout-Pig — A trout-pig hybrid, discovered in the Tet river in southeastern France. As reported by L'Indépendant, April 1, 2013. I imagine that, when cooked, this would taste like trout wrapped in bacon.
Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2013.   Comments (2)

Paul Krassner’s Stereophonic Hoax, 1960 — Back in 1960, a story got around about a TV viewer in the South who thought he saw a black man kissing a white woman on a popular TV show. So he wrote to the sponsor of the show to complain. The sponsor acted quickly to calm the man and assure him that they would never sponsor a show on which such an act occurred. They flew an account executive down to see the man and held a private screening for him, to demonstrate to him that the actor in question was actually white. His local station…
Posted: Mon Aug 26, 2013.   Comments (2)


Mirro Dress for Fatso Figures — The "Mirro Dress" for "fatso figures" was one of a number of unusual items that Kaufmann's Department Store included in an ad that it ran in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on April 1, 1949. Other items included a "Sun-Tan Umbrella" that browned you with ultraviolet rays as you walked in the rain, and "Grow Cup" ceramic paste that could regrow handles on broken coffee cups. The ad was an April Fool's Day spoof. Nowadays spoof ads are a dime a dozen on April 1st, but back in the 1940s they…
Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2013.   Comments (0)

Marshmallow Farming — A video of a news segment about marshmallow farming in North Carolina recently appeared on youtube: It looks like it was inspired by the BBC's famous Swiss Spaghetti Harvest April fool's day segment. The reporter identifies himself as being from Channel 9 news in Iredell County. But there's no info about what year this first aired. So I sent the station an email to find out what they might know.
Posted: Thu Apr 25, 2013.   Comments (1)

Museum Mail: The Norwegian Wine Surplus — I received this message from a reader in Norway: Thank you for your list of good April Fool jokes. I think the best jokes are where you get people to do something stupid, but still rather harmless. My personal favourite is from my home country, where there is a state "Wine Monopoly" — the only place you can buy wine and liquor. You find a wine monopoly in most cities, several in the larger ones. One year in the late 1940ies, one of the major newspapers announced that the wine…
Posted: Wed Apr 03, 2013.   Comments (2)

Bacon Mouthwash — Slightly in advance of April 1st, Scope is introducing Bacon Mouthwash. From their product info page: Scope Bacon is the newest addition to our line of products. It tastes like bacon, while still killing 99.9% of bad breath germs. And, it keeps your breath minty fresh 5 times longer than brushing alone. Does Scope Bacon make my breath smell like bacon? No. Scope Bacon just tastes like bacon while you swish, but leaves your breath smelling minty fresh 5 times longer than brushing…
Posted: Sun Mar 31, 2013.   Comments (2)

How to make cotton cakes — Back in the 19th century, food pranks were very popular on April Fool's Day. And one of the most popular forms of trick food was the "cotton cake." Instructions for how to make this delicacy were reported by Jane Eddington in the Chicago Daily Tribune on Apr 1, 1929: One of the older American cooking jokes of the days was the cotton cakes. I heard a woman tell how to do this in an up to date way, imitating what her great grandmother did who made cotton cakes and sent them around to…
Posted: Fri Mar 29, 2013.   Comments (0)

Museum Mail: April Fool Prank — Thanks to Joy for sharing this: After college, I took a job as a legal secretary at a law firm in Atlanta, GA. At the time, we all used Selectric III typewriters (PCs weren't around, and WANGs had just come on the market). We had a very nice, intelligent associate who had started about a month or so before April 1st, and although he was extremely smart at law, he was also a little too trusting and pretty naive. I clued the attorney I worked for into my plan, gave him some lines, and…
Posted: Fri Mar 29, 2013.   Comments (1)

A Few More Of This Year’s April Fools — Unicorn Cookbook The British Library's Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts Blog announced the discovery of a long-lost medieval cookbook that included recipes for unicorns: "Taketh one unicorne," marinade it in cloves and garlic, and roast it on a griddle. Bacon-Scented Cat Litter Fresh Step announced the introduction of Organic Bacon-scented cat litter: "The power of activated carbon meets the scrumptious scent of freshly cooked bacon." Mars Attacks: The Musical Topps and IDW Publishing…
Posted: Thu Apr 05, 2012.   Comments (1)

PetaPixel’s April Fool’s Day Image Roundup — PetaPixel has a nice roundup of images from April Fool's Day 2012, including this one of an ad by Hipstamatic (an iPhone app) for contact lenses that will give everything you look at the warm glow of a vintage photo. (Thanks, Bob!) INTRODUCING: Hipstamatic Contact Lenses. See the world through the shadows of John S, the sexy glow of Lucifer, the dreamy haze of Loftus--and many, many more. Inspired by the beautiful effects of our HipstaPaks, these babies will rock your world. Pop them…
Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2012.   Comments (0)

The Annual Overland Whale Migration — I received an email from Peter Barss recounting a 1985 April Fool's Day hoax he was involved in. It's a great story, so I'll let him tell it in his own words: In 1985 the Bridgewater Bulletin had an April Fool's front page. Turn over the bogus page and there was the true front page with the day's news. One reporter created an image of a twelve foot starfish climbing out of the sea and up the side of a fisherman's building. Another wrote a story about an international airport that would…
Posted: Tue Apr 03, 2012.   Comments (3)

Happy April Fool’s Day, 2012! — Here's a few of this year's April Fool's jokes that I've come across so far: Gmail Tap: Google brings back morse code for mobile computing: youtube. Google Maps 8-Bit: A low-res version for NES. youtube Virgin Volcanic: Richard Branson announces plans to travel to the center of the earth. virginvolcanic.com Water Runways: South African airline Kulula announces the introduction of new water runways. travelwires.com Triple-Decker Buses: New Zealand's 3 News ran a story about a…
Posted: Sun Apr 01, 2012.   Comments (7)

Creepy April Fool Masks — I came across these creepy April Fool masks from 1930 on eBay. Or rather, it's an auction for an article from 1930 about April Fool masks. I've never heard of mask-wearing being part of April Fool's tradition in any country. But I'm sure it would freak people out if you showed up somewhere, such as work, wearing one of these things. Especially that pig mask.
Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2012.   Comments (1)

Looking for Dutch speakers to help translate April Fool’s Day poem from 1561 — In my article about the origin of April Fool's Day, which I wrote a few years ago, I noted that the first explicit reference to April 1st being a day for pranks can be found in a poem written in late-medieval Dutch (around 1561) by Eduard De Dene. The title of the poem is "Refereyn vp verzendekens dach / Twelck den eersten April te zyne plach." Marco Langbroek kindly translated this for me as: "Refrain on errand-day / which is the first of April." But it recently occurred to me that…
Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2012.   Comments (12)

The April Fool’s Day Jinx — A few times when I've done interviews about April Fool's Day, I've been asked whether the tradition of foolery on April 1st is dying out because, despite the day's popularity online, most people don't celebrate it. My answer is that April Fool's Day has always been ignored by the majority of the population, but the influence of the celebration can be seen in what people don't do on April 1. Even people who have never played a prank in their entire life, will nevertheless acknowledge…
Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2012.   Comments (3)

Stimulus To Allow Critical Hair Expenses Act — On April 1st of this year, hundreds of thousands of men with mustaches are going to gather in Washington, DC to demand tax equity for Mustached Americans. They're hoping to persuade Congress to adopt the Stimulus To Allow Critical Hair Expenses Act, or STACHE Act. The act would allow Mustached Americans to claim tax deductions for expenses such as: Mustache and beard trimming instruments, mustache wax and weightless conditioning agents, Facial hair coloring products (for men and women…
Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2012.   Comments (0)

Happy April Fool’s Day, 2010! — Happy April Fools! I've been busy working on my book, but April 1st has managed to pull me back to the site. Last year I posted a brief rant about the origin of April Fool's Day, explaining how every year reporters write articles claiming that the most likely origin of the holiday is the Gregorian calendar reform of the late 16th century. This explanation gets trotted out every year, even though there's just no way it's true. Last year I noted: I realize it's probably overly…
Posted: Thu Apr 01, 2010.   Comments (19)

Severed Arm Prank — A strange April Fool's Day prank: A Ministry of Fisheries worker on a trawler in subantarctic waters radioed his superior to tell him that a human arm had been found in the water. Specifically, his message said: "Me again. We had a rather gruesome catch in tonight's shot. The remains of a human arm. It has been taken off below the elbow and it is not a clean cut. Yuk. It hasn't been in the water for very long, and I was wondering if any of the Russian boats has had an accident. The…
Posted: Mon May 11, 2009.   Comments (2)

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