1 April 2015

5 Outlandish April Fools’ Hoaxes That People Actually Fell For

5 Outlandish April Fools’ Hoaxes That People Actually Fell For

Image Credit: Robert Couse-Baker
It's April Fools' Day and the internet has inexplicably managed to become even crazier than usual. Today is the day when even the most straight-laced of individuals can engage in a bit of harmless tomfoolery without upsetting too many people. Of course, the April Fools' tradition predates the internet by more than a century. We've been trawling the internet for the best April Fools' hoaxes of all time. Here are our top five.

#5. How to Cook a Unicorn

Image Credit: Stirling Castle via Dun Deagh

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and the largest library in the world, holding around 170 million items.

On 1 April 2012, the British Library’s Medieval Manuscripts Blog announced that a long-sought-after medieval cookbook had been discovered. The cookbook was said to contain recipes for herring, tripe and codswallop, amongst other unremarkable medieval cuisine.

Completely unremarkable
The book did, however, contain one “spine-tingling” recipe. “Taketh one unicorne”, the recipe begins, before going on to explain how to marinate and grill said unicorn. The book’s author had helpfully provided illustrations.

This long-lost cookbook, said to be written by Geoffrey Fule, personal chef to the Queen of England, seemingly confirmed the existence of unicorns as non-mythical creatures. Was this a playful April Fools’ hoax by an esteemed institution, or are there unicorns grazing on the Balmoral Estate right now?

#4. The Swedish Colour TV Converter

Image Credit: Paul Townsend
Sveriges Television (SVT) is Sweden’s state-funded television broadcaster, initially modelled on our very own BBC. SVT was Sweden’s only television broadcaster from its launch in 1956 until the establishment of TV3 in 1987. The channel broadcast only in black and white until 1966, when it started to experiment with colour broadcasts. Regular colour broadcasts were not introduced to Sweden until 1970.

Colour photographs apparently came much later
On 1 April 1962, “technical expert”, Kjell Stensson, went on air to explain to SVT viewers that a fine-meshed material stretched over a standard black and white television screen would bend the light in such a way that the image would appear to be in colour. Stensson recommended nylon stockings as the ideal material for a homemade colour TV converter.

Stensson’s highly technical explanation of how the process was supposed to have worked convinced thousands of viewers to try it out for themselves. Needless to say, they were left disappointed.

#3. The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest

Image Credit: Robert Couse-Baker
Panorama is the world’s longest running current affairs television programme, having aired on the BBC since 1953.

On 1 April 1957, Panorama aired a report about spaghetti growers in southern Switzerland. The report, showing footage of a family harvesting spaghetti from “spaghetti trees”, claimed that spaghetti farmers were enjoying a particularly successful harvest due to the “virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil”. The report was made more believable by having respected broadcaster, Richard Dimbleby, provide the voiceover.

Image Credit: Paul Townsend
One Directioners have nothing on the Dimble-Dames
With pasta being a relatively exotic dish in 1950s Britain, the BBC reportedly received many calls from viewers eager for information on how to grow their own spaghetti trees. The standard response from the BBC was that aspiring spaghetti growers should “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best”.

#2. Zero Gravity Day

Image Credit: Rob Koocbor
Sir Patrick Moore was a famed British astronomer, most well known as the presenter of the BBC documentary series The Sky at Night from its first airing in 1957 until his death in 2012.

On the morning of 1 April 1976, Moore informed BBC Radio 2 listeners that a “unique astronomical event” would occur at 9:47am that morning, with Pluto passing directly behind Jupiter. This rare event, Moore claimed, would result in a noticeable albeit temporary reduction of Earth’s gravity. Moore insisted that anyone who jumped in the air at precisely 9:47am would experience a strange floating sensation.

Image Credit: Paurian
Or a magnificent soaring sensation
The BBC was later flooded with calls from listeners claiming to have experienced the effects of the fictional astronomical event, with reports of people and furniture floating around rooms. There was even a demand for compensation, with one caller claiming to have risen so quickly that he hit his head on the ceiling.

#1. Alaska’s Volcanic Eruption

Image Credit: The Guardian
The city of Sitka in the US state of Alaska is home to Mount Edgecumbe, a volcano that has been dormant for thousands of years.

On 1 April 1974, residents of Sitka were surprised to see black smoke rising from the long-dormant volcano. Fearing that the volcano was set to erupt, concerned locals inundated local authorities with calls and the Coast Guard was sent to investigate. Flying over the volcano in a helicopter, the Coast Guard pilot was surprised to see the words “APRIL FOOL” painted in large black letters beside a massive pile of burning tyres that had been placed in the volcano’s crater.

Image Credit: Bells Design
The elaborate prank was the work of 50-year-old practical joker, Oliver “Porky” Bickar. Porky had been collecting tyres in preparation for the prank for three years and pulled it off with the help of a few friends and a helicopter pilot. The prankster had notified air traffic control and the local police force about his plan, but had forgotten to notify the Coast Guard. Luckily for Porky, the residents of Sitka and the Coast Guard saw the funny side. The hoax made it into papers all around the world and Porky was even featured in an ad campaign for Alaska Airlines.

What do you think? Were these the best April Fools' hoaxes of all time? Let us know what you think in the comments and don't forget to follow us on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+) to avoid missing out on new articles! [wide]

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