• September 26, 2022

April Fools’ Day Humor and Other Hoaxes

People usually enjoy harmless pranks that are humorous. But some pranks that start out being humorous end up being dangerous and not the least bit funny.

When I first read about Burger King taking out a full-page ad in USA Today in 1998, announcing they had created a Whopper for nearly 32 million left-handed Americans, I thought it was hilarious.

They said that the new Whopper had all the same ingredients, but the condiments were “rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers.”

According to the company, people requested the old “right-handed” version (abcnews.go.com). They must have had a good laugh over that.

Another example of this is the businessman who announced in 1978 that he had succeeded in towing an iceberg from Antarctica to Sydney, Australia. He moored the iceberg and started selling ice cubes to the masses for ten cents each.

The prank worked until it started to rain, revealing the iceberg was none other than firefighting foam and shaving cream. The businessman said he just does these things for kicks to take the boredom out of everyday work.

And then, in 1977, “the British newspaper, The Guardian, published a seven-page supplement dedicated to the heretofore-unknown (and made-up) islands of San Serriffe. Apparently meant to appeal to the grammatically inclined, the islands were in the shape of a semicolon and details about the island alluded to printer’s terminology. The newspaper was flooded with calls from readers who wanted more information about this unique vacation spot.”

But the funniest one of all is the video of spaghetti trees being harvested by a Swiss family.

“The spaghetti tree hoax is a famous 3-minute hoax report broadcast on April Fools’ Day in 1957 by the BBC current affairs programme Panorama.

“It told a tale of a family in southern Switzerland harvesting spaghetti from the fictitious spaghetti tree, broadcast at a time when this Italian dish was not widely eaten in the UK and some Britons were unaware that spaghetti is a pasta made from wheat flour and water.

“Hundreds of viewers phoned into the BBC, either to say the story was not true, or wondering about it, with some even asking how to grow their own spaghetti trees. Decades later CNN called this broadcast “the biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled.”

The video was hilarious. It showed a Swiss family harvesting these spaghetti trees. You could see the women reaching up and pulling down these uniform strands of spaghetti, laying them out flat in the sun to dry, and then a man and woman being seated at an outdoor table in a restaurant and their waiter bringing them their cooked spaghetti dinner and the man and woman, eating it, and raising their cups in a congratulatory toast.

Hundreds of people called the corporation after the broadcast asking where they could get hold of a spaghetti bush so they could grow their own crop.

And many viewers – including BBC staff – who had been taken in by the Panorama April Fools 2022 Fools’ hoax criticized the use of a serious factual program to make an elaborate joke. But the broadcast has gone down as one of the best April Fools’ jokes of all time.

With my quirky sense of humor, these pranks are very appealing but sometimes a prank just goes too far. This past weekend was a case in point.

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