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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Pranks
The Bunny Ears Prank Revisited — Rugby player Manu Tuilagi recently apologized for making bunny ears behind David Cameron's head during a photo shoot outside of 10 Downing Street. Cameron replied, "No need to apologise, I know it was just a bit of fun." [espn scrum] This got me thinking again about the history of the Bunny Ears prank, a topic I last posted about back in 2006. How old is the Bunny Ears prank? Does it predate photography? Nobody knows. After a bit of searching online, the oldest example of making…
Posted: Fri Sep 20, 2013.   Comments (1)

The Royalton’s Special Tea Blend — George Jean NathanOrson Welles was fond of telling the following story about drama critic George Jean Nathan (1882-1958) — a story which is repeated in the recently published My Lunches with Orson, Peter Biskind (ed.). [via the Legends & Rumors Blog] Orson Welles: Let me tell you a story about George Jean Nathan, America's greatest drama critic. George Jean Nathan was the tightest man who ever lived, even tighter than Charles Chaplin. And he lived for forty years in the Hotel Royalton,…
Posted: Tue Sep 17, 2013.   Comments (0)

Mystery Letterbox — A red letterbox has appeared on the side of a bridge crossing the Thames in the village of Sonning-on-Thames. It's accessible only from the river. The Royal Mail says it's "a mystery to us." What makes this story doubly strange is that spoon-bender Uri Geller happens to live in this town and was interviewed about it by the BBC. He speculates that "the ghost of a mischievous little girl" might have put the letterbox there. Uri Geller mystified by letterbox on Thames Sonning Bridge BBC…
Posted: Wed Sep 11, 2013.   Comments (3)

Bricked-in Car Prank, 1964 — October 1964: The work of pranksters. A car boxed in by brick walls on a foot bridge of the North Branch of the Chicago River in the 5000 block of North Spaulding. Source: Chicago Daily News.
Posted: Thu Aug 29, 2013.   Comments (2)


The Girl Scout Cookie Order Hoax — This is all over the news. [oregonlive, csmonitor] Some girl scouts in Portland, Oregon thought they had landed a massive sale of cookies when they received an order via email for 6000 boxes — a $24,000 order. Whoever was handling the order (a scout's mother, I assume) exchanged some emails with the buyer, and everything seemed legitimate. The buyer was even an acquaintance of the troop. So the girl scouts went ahead and processed the order, committing themselves to receiving 6000…
Posted: Mon Mar 18, 2013.   Comments (1)

Do not push this button! — Here's a prank that's also an interesting experiment in social psychology. In the middle of a busy public square, a big sign over a red button says, "DO NOT PUSH THIS BUTTON." Of course, random people walking by inevitably do push the button. At which point, everyone in the square appears to drop dead. So what does the person who pushed the button do? Does he/she try to help the people? No. Every single person who pushed the button runs away, as if trying to escape being found out.
Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2013.   Comments (4)

The Proposal Rejection Prank — The Proposal Rejection Prank is a perennial favorite. Back in 2005 I posted about how a couple had developed a routine they were performing at basketball game halftime shows, in which the guy would propose to the girl in front of the entire crowd. But instead of saying yes, the girl would break into tears and run away. It never failed to get a reaction from the crowds. The PrankvsPrank duo recently performed the identical stunt at various locations outdoors. Their resulting youtube…
Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2013.   Comments (0)

The Frank Zappa Frieze Prank, 1975 — Bridges Auditorium stands on the campus of Pomona College in Southern California. A frieze on the front of the building displays the names of five great composers: Wagner, Chopin, Beethoven, Bach, and Schubert. But for a few days in April 1975, Chopin's name disappeared and was replaced by that of another iconic, but more modern composer — Frank Zappa. For years, no one knew who put Zappa's name up there. But in 2012, the pranksters finally revealed themselves, submitting a dossier…
Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2013.   Comments (3)

Dead Bodies Rising — Viewers of The Steve Wilkos Show on CBS affiliate KRTV in Great Falls had the program interrupted on Monday by an emergency alert that delivered this warning: Civil authorities in your area have reported that the bodies of the dead are rising from their graves and attacking the living. Follow the messages on screen that will be updated as information becomes available. Do not attempt to approach or apprehend these bodies as they are extremely dangerous. Seems that someone had hacked…
Posted: Tue Feb 12, 2013.   Comments (3)

USC Glamour Queen Hoax, 1944 — In April 1944, the University of Southern California held its annual Campus Queens beauty contest. Each dormitory and sorority was allowed to put forward one candidate. Several "non-org" (or non-affiliated candidates) were allowed to enter the contest as well. This made for a total of 20 contestants vying for the title. Six winners would be selected by an all-university vote. Their prize was that their full-length portrait would appear in the university yearbook. (Not much of a prize,…
Posted: Sat Feb 02, 2013.   Comments (1)

S?it Yourself — This image that recently appeared on the May 4 cover of the Living section in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is all over the blogosphere. Does the heading say "Suit Yourself" or "Shit Yourself"? The real question is whether this was an innocent accident, or an artist's prank. Kind of like the penis on the Little Mermaid video cover. The artist swore he didn't put it there intentionally, but that was kind of hard to believe. After all, how could he miss it?
Posted: Wed May 09, 2012.   Comments (6)

Poop Dollaring — Scatology has always provided fertile ground for pranks and humor. In fact, I've read scientific speculation that farts and feces probably provided the inspiration for the very first jokes told (or staged) by our early hominid ancestors. Witness how modern-day chimpanzees find it endlessly amusing to fling their feces. This might provide us with some context for the prank called Poop Dollaring. (Though it's probably more analysis than the prank deserves.) Its method is simple: smear…
Posted: Wed May 09, 2012.   Comments (3)

Get Goated — Imagine you're going about your day, minding your own business, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, there's a goat! That's the premise of the goat prank that's become a tradition in Spokane, Washington. The link includes a video of a Spokane anchorwoman who keeps repeating excitedly, "I've been goated! I've been goated!": Surprise! You Have Just Been 'Goated!' khq.com Spokane community members have the opportunity to play a great practical joke by having a real baby goat delivered to…
Posted: Fri May 04, 2012.   Comments (1)

Lightly touching women’s stomachs while they’re sitting down… and other strange pranks — I noticed several odd pranks in the news: Touching women's stomachs: Tosh.0 had a segment on his show about women's reactions when you lightly touch their stomachs while they're sitting down, and he encouraged his viewers to try this during the commercial break to see what would happen. According to Time, lots of people promptly began posting videos to youtube showing themselves doing this. "I've buried the body": Over in Western Australia, many people are reporting that they're…
Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012.   Comments (2)

The Car Switcheroo Prank—this couldn’t be done today! — Marjorie writes in again, with a story told to her by an Aussie friend (in his words). What I love about this story is that it's set in a time and place where people actually left their cars unlocked, with the keys on the front seat, expecting that the cars would still be there when they returned. I was living in Hobart in 1977 and, driving home, I noticed a friend's car parked outside the corner store at the bottom of my street. I was expecting her to come visit later that afternoon…
Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2012.   Comments (2)

The Pulling Up Piccadilly Prank — I recently received the following email from Marjorie: In the late 50's, on the morning of April 1, a group of Sydney City Council workers went with jackhammers and other machinery and started an approved excavation in the middle of George St. (the main drag). Hoaxers from Sydney University called the police and warned them that a group of Uni Students dressed as Council workers were tearing up George St. They simultaneously went to the site and warned the workers that a group of…
Posted: Fri Apr 06, 2012.   Comments (0)

The Society for Insulting Women and Frightening Children — The Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1873 includes an article about the mathematician/inventor Charles Babbage. In this article, there's a page-long footnote discussing some hoaxes, and at the end of this footnote, there's a brief reference to the existence of a curious group that called itself the "Society for Insulting Women and Frightening Children": What is this Society? I haven't been able to find it mentioned anywhere except in…
Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2012.   Comments (2)

Texas Roof Tiger — Add this to the 'Things on Roofs' file: Police in Houston, Texas received reports of a tiger sitting on the roof of an abandoned hotel. The animal was causing a bit of a traffic jam as drivers stopped to look at it. But upon investigation, it turned out to be a toy tiger. I'm assuming it was the work of a prankster, who's now out a pretty nice stuffed animal. Link: BBC News.
Posted: Thu Jan 19, 2012.   Comments (7)

Car lands on roof of house—real or fake? — About two weeks ago a story hit the news wires about a car that landed on the roof of a house in Fresno, CA. The story goes that Benjamin Tucker stole the car, was driving fast, but lost control as he was going round a corner and hit some landscaping rocks, causing the car to become airborne. And it flew through the air until it landed on the roof of a nearby house. The autoshopper blog points out that this chain of events is highly improbable: Let’s put together some relevant…
Posted: Wed Jan 18, 2012.   Comments (8)

Cows In The Library — Apparently Bethel College in Kansas has a history of pranks. Enough so that there's now a website dedicated to collecting all the pranks perpetrated there. The site has a great name: CowsInTheLibrary.com. The name refers to an actual prank at Bethel, but also (perhaps unintentionally) gives a nod to Neil Steinberg's classic book about college pranks, If At All Possible, Involve A Cow. Bethel's most famous prank is Herman Bubbert, a fictional student "who began appearing on class rolls…
Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2011.   Comments (1)

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