April Fools’ Day

    By Kelly Maue

    Calling all pranksters, jokesters, and mischief-makers –  April Fools’ Day is near! Although not an official holiday, it’s the day to fool or be fooled. 

    There is some confusion about the history of April Fools’ Day. The custom of playing jokes or pranks on this day dates to Renaissance Europe and possibly longer. Theories include a change in the French calendar in 1582 when the new year moved from April to January. Many were unaware of the change and were called “April fools” for celebrating.

    Other notions about how April Fools’ Day originated include roots in the ancient Roman festival of Hilaria or the Indian celebration of Holi. Some believe it started because Mother Nature fools us with sudden weather changes. A town in Nottinghamshire, England, claims credit for the custom; legend says townspeople pranked King John, and he was so impressed he rewarded them. Another clue is that the first written reference to April Fools’ Day dates to a Flemish poem in 1561. The point is, however, no one knows when or how it started – and if someone says otherwise, they’re fooling you. 

    Pranking has only gained popularity around the world. Through the years, some doozies have made it to the April Fools’ Hall of Fame (if there was one).

    One of the earliest pranks appeared in a London newspaper in 1698. 

    A lighthearted story comically revealed that the moon was visible from Earth. 

    Perhaps the most famous hoax is one by the BBC in the 1950’s. Footage showed Swiss people picking cooked spaghetti off trees, while the storyline claimed a bumper crop of spaghetti that year. And yes, people inquired about getting spaghetti trees.

    In 1985, Sports Illustrated ran a 14-page spread about a fictional athlete. Sidd Finch was supposedly a pitching phenom for the Mets with a 168-mph fastball. 

    There have been annual press releases about the New York City April Fools’ Day Parade since 1986. No, it doesn’t exist. 

    In 1996, Taco Bell announced it had purchased the Liberty Bell, which would be known as the “Taco Liberty Bell.”

    Not to be outdone, another fast-food giant pulled a prank in 1998. Burger King advertised their new “Left-Handed Whopper” with rotated condiments for left-handed guests. Of course, it was a joke, but it didn’t stop guests from requesting the sandwich.

    In 2022, 7-Eleven unveiled its “Tiny Gulp.” And yes, at just .7 ounces, it was the perfect little sip. 

    For all the amateurs looking for a quick laugh, don’t forget the classics. From fake winning lottery tickets to rubber snakes and whoopee cushions, there are endless pranks to play on April Fools’ Day – or any other day. 

    Life is serious enough. Don’t forget to have a little fun.