April Fools day is canceled. Seriously. April Fools jokes are not happening around the world today, as they have for centuries. The holiday is over.
So, without any April Fools pranks today, let’s remember the best from past years.
Ever hear about the April Fools prank that Uday pulled on his dad Saddam Hussein? Or how about the time a Boston University professor pranked the entire American media into believing he’d discovered the origins of April Fools Day? And don’t forget how the BBC in 1965 claimed someone had invented of “smellovision,” which allowed TV-viewers to interact with their noses.
Here’s our list of Top 10 April Fools’ pranks from around the world, much of it inspired by the Museum of Hoaxes website.
10. ENGLAND: 1957: A BBC news show announced Swiss farmers had grown spaghetti, showing footage of peasants pulling spaghetti down from the trees. Viewers believed it, calling into the BBC to ask how they could enjoy their own spaghetti crop. The BBC replied, “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”
9. SWEDEN: 1962: The sole television channel in Sweden was still black-and-white, but on April 1 it announced that viewers could easily convert to color. The station’s technical expert, Kjell Stensson, said to pull a nylon stocking over the box. Supposedly, thousands of people actually tried.
8. UNITED STATES: 1992: National Public Radio announced that Richard Nixon, after living nearly two decades in disgraced retirement, was running again for president. His new campaign slogan was, according to NPR, “I didn’t do anything wrong, and I won’t do it again.”
7. AUSTRALIA: 1975: A TV news program says Australia will convert to “metric time,” making 100 seconds to the minute, 100 minutes to the hour, and 20 hours to the day. Seconds would become millidays, minutes would become centidays, and hours would become decidays.
6. FRANCE: 1986: A newspaper, the Parisien, reports the Eiffel Tower will be deconstructed and rebuilt in the new Disney World opening in Paris.
5. GREECE: 1995: Socrates, the obstinate old philosopher who drank hemlock poison rather than curtail his free speech, is buried in an unknown place. In 1995 the Greek Ministry of Culture said it found his tomb near the base of the Acropolis during excavation for the Athens metro system. A vase containing traces of hemlock was reportedly in the tomb, too. The French news wire Agence France-Presse reported the prank as news.
4. ITALY: 1919: Venice woke one April 1 to find horse manure littering the streets, odd since the city of canals had few horses. The British prankster Horace de Vere Cole, who was honeymooning in Venice, had transported a load of manure from the mainland the night before with the help of a gondolier and had then deposited small piles of it throughout the Piazza.
3. CHINA: 1993: Getting in on the liberal fun, state newspaper The China Youth Daily announced those with doctorate degrees were exempt from one-child limits. According to an article, doctorates’ children would reduce the need for foreign experts. As with the joke in Greece, the news wire Agence France-Presse reported it as true. The next day, a Beijing newspaper ran an editorial stating that April Fool’s jokes “are an extremely bad influence.”
2. GERMANY: 1915: In the midst of World War I, a French aviator flew over a German camp and dropped what appeared to be a huge bomb. The German soldiers immediately scattered in all directions, but no explosion followed. After some time, the soldiers crept back and gingerly approached the bomb. They discovered it was actually a large football with a note tied to it that read, “April Fool!”
(We can’t find any source aside from the Museum of Hoaxes for that last one – if you can shed any light on it, please send us a comment.)
1. IRAQ: 1998: Even in Iraq they celebrate April Fool’s Day, calling it Kithbet Neesan, or April Lie. When Saddam Hussein was still in power, an Iraqi newspaper owned by his son, Uday, declared on its front page that President Clinton said ”it was time for lifting the sanctions.” (The UN had imposed sanctions after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.) Saddam was probably not amused.