It takes time to prepare a decent April Fool's Joke, if you want to craft one that is truly awesome, and not just the standard toilet-papering-a-tree or the old whoopie cushion stand-by.
So, to inspire you and give you sufficient time to craft a delightful hoax of your own, I present to you some of the more awesome hoaxes of the past.
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Ben Franklin was prone to hoaxes, and began as a lad of 16, when he wrote to hte paper as the wildly popular Silence Dogood. The hoax was not discovered for 14 letters.. Then he repeated the prank 25 years later, writing as Polly Baker. When his Poor Richard's Almanac was at its zenith, he had a rivalry with Titan Leeds, his biggest competitor. Franklin published that Leeds would die October 17, 1733, at precisely 3:29 pm. When that date passed and Leeds remained alive, Franklin carried on as if Leeds had indeed died, and claimed the man presenting himself as Leeds was an imposter. When Leeds really did die, Franklin thanked the imposter for ending the ruse. During the American Revolution, Franklin created a fake newspaper to rile the American Revolutionists up against the British. Nothing published in the fake newspaper was true. What a prankster!
In 1835, New York's The Sun ran an 6-part article about the discovery of civilization on the moon, naming British astronomer John Herschel as the discoverer, with his new and powerful telescope. The moon was populated with bipedal beavers, unicorns, and winged humans, built temples of sapphires, and a theater staged a dramatic play on it. It took 5 years for the author, Richard Adam Locke, to own up to the hoax. The moon beaver remains forlornly unembraced as the mascot of any American city.
The Piltdown Man was also a famous hoax of 1912, and while it was eventually exposed, the perpetrators were never truly caught. Charles Dawson and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are presumed to have been in on the hoax.
In 1917, H. L. Mencken created a hoax that even today is cited as "fact" - the fallacious history of the bathtub, and published in it the New York Evening Mail, a prestigious publication of the times. He carefully explained how the arrival of the bathtub in the US didn't catch on until President Millard Fillmore installed one in the White House. Mencken's history of the tub led the Boston Herald to publish an article about he gullibility of Americans (titled "The American Public Will Swallow Anything"), then 3 weeks later with quite bald print repeated Mencken's history of the bathtub as fact! In 2008, this "fact" appeared in a Kia commercial which hailed former President Fillmore as "best remembered as the first president to have a running water bathtub." Actually, Andrew Jackson, the 7th President, installed the first bath tub and indoor plumbing in the White House n May of 1833. Fillmore was the 13th president.
Italy's famous pasta gardens became a subject of much interest in 1957 when the BBC reported the robust spaghetti crop in a Swiss town, attributing it to the warm weather and the disappearance of the dread spaghetti weevil. After receiving hundreds of calls on how to grow their own spaghetti trees, the BBC whimsically advised people to place sprigs of spaghetti into tomato sauce and hope for the best.
In 1969, Mike McGrady had the thought of exposing the lurid state of the publishing industry by getting together with 24 Newsday colleagues and had them each write a chapter of the book with an unremitting emphasis on sex. Once he had the chapters, he carefully edited them to make them even worse, then had it published as Naked Came the Stranger, authored by the fictional Penelope Ashe (played by his sister-in-law). To his dismay, the ploy worked, and he sold over 400,000 copies of the book by 2012, even though the New York Times rated it as a "C". What worried him were the 20,000 people who bought hte book and praised it before the hoax was revealed.
In 1969, Rolling Stones editor Greil Marcus wrote a review for a fake band called the Masked Marauders that was presumably made up of Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney. He praised their debut album highly. And then discovered that fans were desperate to get a copy of hte album, so he leveled up his prank and hired an obscure band to record a spoof album and scored a distribution with Warner Brothers. The album sold over 100,000 copies. Warner Brothers let the fans in on the joke in the liner notes of the album.
In 1976, Joey Skaggs ran a prank ad advertising his bordello for dogs. They could buy a night with an enchanting Fifi the French poodle, and he was stunned at how many people wanted to pay $50 for their dog to spend a night at the "cathouse for dogs". The ASPCA launched an investigation, a veterinarian publicly condemned the canine brothel, and the NY Health Department was concerned about licensing. Even after he admitted the hoax, WABC argued that it was real - and with good reason: they won an Emmy for their coverage of the story!
My favorite hoax is the Northwest Tree-Dwelling Octopus. The arboreal cephalopod faces extinction due to predations by Sasquatch. Lyle Zapato has maintained this hoax for years - in 2006, the University of Connecticut showed that 25 out of 25 web-proficient middle schoolers believed in the tree octopus, and even when they learned of the hoax, were unable to point out which clues proved it wasn't real. Zapato maintains several other hoax sites as well: the Bureau of Sasquatch Affairs, and one which alleges Belgium doesn't exist, despite the deceptive branding of Belgium waffles.
My personal pranks never received national attention, let alone international. They rarely went beyond the person I pranked. I'm going to have to up my game.
What about you? Have you done any pranks you consider worthy?
And if not, here's your inspiration to come up with a zinger of a prank or hoax.
While you're pondering your world-shattering hoax, take time to enjoy the Tops: Top Comments, Top Mojo, and the gorgeous Picture Quilt.