Today is April Fools Day.
On this day it has been a common practice for centuries for people to play a practical joke on others.
And if someone believes that joke or prank is true, then they are the “April Fool”.
Many major newspapers, magazines, TV shows, and websites often join this holiday and print a false news article that is usually quite preposterous and unbelievable…but many people “fall for the joke”.
They sometimes give hints in the article that it’s an “April Fools” joke, such as listing a false person’s name such as “Lirpa Sloof” (“April Fools” spelled backwards) as a news source, or listing a false product serial number such as “20100401″ (2010/04/01…today’s date).
And then either the next day or somewhere in the same day’s publication, they’ll announce that it was only an “April Fools joke”.
On the “Museum Of Hoaxes” website, they a list of “The Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes Of All Time“.
Here are some of the best hoaxes that I’ve paraphrased from their list:
#59: Daylight Savings Contest
1984 April 1: the Eldorado Daily Journal newspaper of Illinois, USA announced a contest to see who could save the most daylight for daylight savings time….whoever succeeded in saving the most daylight would win. Only pure daylight would be allowed—no dawn or twilight light, though light from cloudy days would be allowed. Moonlight was strictly forbidden. Light could be stored in any container. The contest received a huge, nationwide response. The paper’s editor was interviewed by correspondents from CBS and NBC and was featured in papers throughout the country.
#47: Internet Spring Cleaning
1997 April 1: 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.
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.
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.
#20: The Twenty-Six-Day Marathon
1981 April 1: The Daily Mail in London, England ran a story about an unfortunate Japanese long-distance runner, Kimo Nakajimi, who had entered the London Marathon but, on account of a translation error, thought that he had to run for 26 days, not 26 miles.
#15: Metric Time
1975 April 1: Australia’s This Day Tonight news program revealed that the country would soon be converting to “metric time.” Under the new system there would be 100 seconds to the minute, 100 minutes to the hour, and 20-hour days. Furthermore, seconds would become millidays, minutes become centidays, and hours become decidays. They received numerous calls from viewers who fell for the hoax. One frustrated viewer wanted to know how he could convert his newly purchased digital clock to metric time.
#12: Flying Penguins
2008 April 1: The BBC of England announced that camera crews filming near the Antarctic had captured footage of penguins taking to the air. It even offered a video clip of these flying penguins, which became one of the most viewed videos on the internet.
Presenter Terry Jones explained that…(these penguins) flew thousands of miles to the rainforests of South America where they “spend the winter basking in the tropical sun.”
#8: The Left-Handed Whopper
1998 April 1: Burger King published a full page advertisement in the USA Today newspaper announcing the introduction of a new item to their menu: a “Left-Handed Whopper” specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans.
Thousands of customers had gone into restaurants to request the new sandwich. Also “many others requested their own ‘right handed’ version.”
#4: The Taco Liberty Bell
1996 April 1: The Taco Bell Corporation announced it had bought the “Liberty Bell” monument in America and was renaming it the “Taco Liberty Bell”. Hundreds of outraged citizens called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell was housed to express their anger.
Taco Bell's April Fool ad about the "Taco Liberty Bell"
#1: The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest
1957 April 1: The BBC in England announced that thanks to a very mild winter…Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop.
Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied, “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”
Have you ever been fooled by an “April Fools” joke? Have you ever fooled anyone with one?
On a different note, yesterday I noticed a few Sakura trees blooming here in Tokyo.
Next weekend we plan to go 「花見」 (“Cherry Blossom Viewing”).
Here are a few photos I took yesterday: