April Fools’ Day Stories

It’s the day before April 1, April Fools’ Day.  I thought I’d share some April Fools’ stories from across the web – because it’s the Internet, and because it’s April Fools’ Day, there’s no telling whether they’re completely true or not.  Nevertheless, they’re still funny:

  • In 1998, Burger King published a full-page advertisement in USA Today announcing the introduction of the "Left-Handed Whopper," specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans.  According to the advertisement, the new burger included the same ingredients as the original, but the condiments were rotated 180 degrees.  The chain said it received thousands of requests for the new burger, as well as orders for the original "right-handed" version.
  • On April 1, 1976, noted British astronomer Patrick Moore announced on the radio that at 9:47 am, a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event would occur.  He stated that Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, causing a gravitational alignment that would reduce the Earth’s gravity.  Moore told listeners that if they jumped in the air at the exact moment of the planetary alignment, they would experience a "strange floating sensation."  Hundreds of people called in to report feeling the sensation.
  • In 1996, fast food chain Taco Bell announced that it had bought Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell, our historic symbol of independence, from the federal government and was renaming it the "Taco Liberty Bell."  Outraged citizens called to express their anger before Taco Bell revealed the hoax.  The White House press secretary at the time, Mike McCurry, was asked about the sale, and he said the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., had also been sold and was to be renamed the "Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial" after the auto maker.
  • In the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation, there is a scene in which Chevy Chase ties a dog to the bumper of his car, then forgets it’s there and drives away.  Inspired by this scene, Paul Goobie tied a dead chihuahua to the bumper of his co-worker’s car.  The co-worker, Kevin Meloy, got in the car and drove off, unaware that the chihuahua was there.  Obviously, passing motorists were horrified.  But what made the situation even worse was that Meloy was deaf, so he couldn’t hear the other motorists frantically honking at him.  Happily he drove on for miles until finally someone was able to get his attention.  The police were not amused by the prank, and charged Goobie with unlawful disposal of a dead animal.
  • In 1992, National Public Radio announced that Richard Nixon was running for president again.  His new campaign slogan was, "I didn’t do anything wrong, and I won’t do it again."  They even had clips of Nixon announcing his candidacy.  Listeners flooded the show with calls expressing their outrage.  Nixon’s voice actually turned out to be that of impersonator Rich Little.
  • Glenn Howlett’s colleagues at London City Hall thought they had dreamed up a great gag.  They sent him a memo informing him that the really big report he was working on was going to be due early, in just two weeks.  The tip-off was that the memo was dated April 1.  Ha Ha.  Except Howlett didn’t realize it was just a joke.  He received the memo while on vacation and immediately cut his vacation short and phoned the office to tell everyone to start getting busy.  But as he contemplated the new deadline, he worked himself up into an increasing state of panic, until soon he began to experience heart palpitations.  Finally he collapsed from the stress and had to take leave from work.  As he was recovering, he realized it just wasn’t worth risking his health to finish the report, so he filed for early retirement.  At which point someone told him the early deadline was just a joke.  He responded by suing for damages.  As a consequence of his lawsuit, City Hall banned employees from pulling any more pranks.
  • And then there was this, last year, from Google about their new Google TiSP "dark porcelain" project
  • Randy Wood’s marriage was over, but apparently he was still a little bitter about the divorce.  So he decided to play a prank on his ex-wife.  He called her up and asked her to come over, telling her he had something to show her.  She drove over, only to find him hanged by a noose from a tree in the front yard.  Terrified, she immediately called 911.  Police, firefighters, and paramedics arrived, but when they went to cut Wood down, he wasn’t dead.  He wasn’t even hurt.  He had strung himself up to scare his ex-wife, using a lineman’s harness similar to those used by utility crews.  He faced a fine of $1,000 and up to a year in jail for his prank.
  • Sitra Walker was an employee at a clothing store in Columbus, Ohio.  She had only been working there for two weeks, but already she felt that she knew the manager well enough to joke around with him.  On April 1, 2003, she called him at his home and told him that armed men were robbing the store.  The manager immediately called police, who promptly dispatched four cruisers.  Minutes later Walker phoned the manager again and yelled "April Fools!"  Too late…….when the police arrived moments later, they were not amused and charged her with inducing a panic.  Walker’s manager fired her.

And finally, my personal favorite:

  • In 1997 an email message spread throughout the world announcing that the internet would be shut down for cleaning for twenty-four hours from March 31 until April 2. This cleaning was said to be necessary to clear out the "electronic flotsam and jetsam" that had accumulated in the network. Dead email and inactive ftp, www, and gopher sites would be purged. The cleaning would be done by "five very powerful Japanese-built multi-lingual Internet-crawling robots (Toshiba ML-2274) situated around the world." During this period, users were warned to disconnect all devices from the internet. The message supposedly originated from the "Interconnected Network Maintenance Staff, Main Branch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology." This joke was an updated version of an old joke that used to be told about the phone system. For many years, gullible phone customers had been warned that the phone systems would be cleaned on April Fool’s Day. They were cautioned to place plastic bags over the ends of the phone to catch the dust that might be blown out of the phone lines during this period.

Whatever you do today, enjoy April Fools’ Day!  Thanks to Darla for her help compiling the stories.  You can find more stories, and the origins of April Fools’ Day, here.  Again, no telling if they’re true or not! 😉

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