Friday, November 9, 2007

Top 10 of the best April Fool’s jokes

Today is one of the most light hearted days of the year, because today is April Fool’s Day, or also called as the All Fool’s Day. How much to you know about April Fool’s Day, apart from playing practical jokes or pranks on your friends?

The origin of April Fool’s Day are uncertain. Some see it as a celebration related to the changes in the calendar. At one time, the New Year celebration began on March 25 and ended on April 1. However, in 1582, King Charles IX of France adopted the Gregorian calendar and accepted the beginning of the new year as January 1. Those who refused to acknowledge the new date or simply forgot, received foolish gifts and invitations to nonexistent parties.

Here are 10 of the best April Fool’s pranks of all time that have been ranked by the San Diego-based Museum of Hoaxes, based on notoriety, absurdity and the number of people fooled.

1. The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest
Panorama, a respected BBC News show announced in 1957 that a mild winter and the eradication of the destructive spaghetti weevil had led to a bumper spaghetti crop for Swiss farmers. Video showed peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. The BBC was deluged by calls from viewers wanting to know how to grow their own spaghetti trees. The BBC actually gave out instructions: “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”

2. Sidd Finch
In 1985, Sports Illustrated magazine published a story that a rookie baseball pitcher who could reportedly throw a ball at 270 kilometers per hour (168 miles per hour) was set to join the New York Mets. Finch was said to have mastered his skill — pitching significantly faster than anyone else has ever managed — in a Tibetan monastery. Mets fans everywhere celebrated at their teams’s amazing luck at having found such a gifted player, and Sports Illustrated was flooded with requests for more information. But in reality this legendary player only existed in the imagination of the writer of the article, George Plimpton.

3. Instant Color TV
Sweden in 1962 had only one television channel, which broadcast in black and white. The station’s technical expert appeared on the news to announce that thanks to a newly developed technology, viewers could convert their existing sets to receive color pictures by pulling a nylon stocking over the screen. Reportedly, hundreds of thousands of people, out of the population of seven million, were taken in. Actual color tv transmission only commenced in Sweden on April 1, 1970.

4. The Taco Liberty Bell
In 1996, American fast-food chain Taco Bell announced that it had bought Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell, a historic symbol of American independence, from the federal government and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens called up the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell is housed to express their anger. Their nerves were only calmed when Taco Bell revealed that it was all a practical joke a few hours later. Then-White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale and said the Lincoln Memorial in Washington had also been sold and was to be renamed the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial after the automotive giant.

5. San Serriffe
The Guardian, a British newspaper, published a seven-page special section in 1977 to honor the tenth anniversary of San Serriffe, a small republic in the Indian Ocean consisting of several semi-colon-shaped islands. A series of articles described the geography and culture of the obscure nation. Its two main islands were named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse. Its capital was Bodoni, and its leader General Pica. The Guardian’s phones rang off their hooks as callers tried to find out more about what sounded like an ideal vacation spot, not recognizing that everything about San Serriffe involved printer’s terminology. This successful hoax is believed to have led to a long history of other journalism-based April Fool’s jokes in the British tabloid press.

6. Nixon for President
In 1992, US 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. Only during the second half of the show did the host John Hockenberry reveal that the announcement was a practical joke. Nixon’s voice was actually impersonated by comedian Rich Little.

7. Alabama Changes the Value of Pi
A newsletter published in 1998 by the New Mexicans for Science and Reason claimed that the Alabama state legislature had voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi from 3.14159 to the ‘Biblical value’ of 3.0. Before long the article had made its way onto the Internet, and was forwarded by email around the world. The Alabama legislature received hundreds of calls from people protesting the legislation. The original article, which was intended as a parody of legislative attempts to circumscribe the teaching of evolution, was written by a physicist named Mark Boslough.

8. The Left-Handed Whopper
Burger King, my favorite burger store; published a full page advertisement in USA Today in 1998 announcing the introduction of a new item to their menu: a “Left-Handed Whopper” specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. The sandwich reportedly included the same ingredients as the original Whopper but the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers. The chain said it received thousands of requests for the new burger, as well as orders for the original “right-handed” version.

9. Hotheaded Naked Ice Borers
Discover Magazine announced in 1995 that a wildlife biologist named Dr. Aprile Pazzo (Italian for April Fool) had discovered a new species in Antarctica: the hotheaded naked ice borer. The creatures had bony plates on their heads that, fed by numerous blood vessels, could become burning hot, allowing the animals to bore through ice at high speeds. They used this characteristic to hunt penguins by melting the ice beneath them and causing them to sink into slush where they were trapped. Dr. Pazza theorized the hotheads might have been responsible for the mysterious disappearance of Antarctic explorer Philippe Poisson in 1837. “To the ice borers, he would have looked like a penguin,” the article quoted her saying. Discover received more mails in response to this article than they had received for any other articles in their history.

10. Planetary Alignment Decreases Gravity
British astronomer Patrick Moore announced on the radio in 1976 that at 9:47 am, a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event, in which Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, would cause 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 floating sensation. Just after 9:47, hundreds of callers claimed to have felt the sensation. One woman even said she and eleven friends had risen from their chairs and floated around the room!

There you are the top 10 April Fool’s Day hoaxes. Of the top 10, my favorite would be the Color TV joke… how can you turn a black-and-white TV into a color TV by pulling a nylon stocking over the screen? Haha… the most is that you can see how colorful is your stocking… :)

If you want you can share with us the best April Fool’s Day hoax or joke you have every played on someone, or that you have received.