We all love a good April Fool’s Day prank especially if we are the one who is performing the prank. Usually we pull April Fools prank on friends, family, or co-workers but every so often there is someone who manages to pull an April Fool’s Day prank on a massive scale that targets the entire population of a country.
1 – Gravity Shift on a Global Scale
If something is announced in the media most people are happy to believe it without ever questioning its authenticity. In 1976, world famous astronomer Patrick Moore used BBC radio so he could announce a once-in-a-lifetime planetary alignment which would create a bizarre worldwide phenomenon on Earth.
Moore made the claim that Pluto (this is back in the day when Pluto was a planet) was set to pass directly behind gas giant Jupiter and when this happened Earth would experience a severe reduction in its gravitational pull. Moore said that this would occur at exactly 9:47am GMT time and everyone should prepare to experience weightlessness for exactly nine minutes.
You would think that when 9:47am came and went everyone would realise that the claim of weightlessness was nothing more than a joke. Amazingly, rather than realising the entire thing was a windup thousands of people called the radio station claiming that they had indeed experienced weightlessness. Some people even claimed to have spent minutes floating around the house.
This just goes to prove how far people will go to get on television or radio.
2 – The Loch Ness Monster Found Dead
Each year the Loch Ness Monster attracts thousands of visitors to Scotland. Not only does the Loch Ness Monster attract visitors on a grand scale it has also attracted a large number of scientific studies all of which hope to prove or disprove the existence of the legendary monster.
In March or 1972 the Yorkshire Flamingo Park Zoo sent a team of Zoologists to Scotland to carry out is very own research and looking for evidence of Nessie’s existence. The team of Zoologists were not lucky enough to find a living Loch Ness Monster but they did find a carcass floating in the Loch which weighed around one and a half tonnes and was over fifteen feet long.
As you can imagine the discovery created quite a bit of excitement among the zoologists who quickly named the carcass “Son of Nessie” and began trying to load into a truck for transportation back to Yorkshire. Police were quick to intervene and stop the zoologists on the grounds that it is indeed illegal to remove or attempt to remove “unidentified creatures” from Loch Ness.
The “Son of Nessie” wasted no time gaining worldwide attention which only began to subside when scientists from Edinburgh university managed to show that the body was not that of the Loch Ness Monster but that of a bull elephant seal from the South Atlantic.
It was at this point an education officer from the Flamingo Park Zoo came forward and explained the discovery to be nothing more than a prank. The seal had actually died a week prior to the event at a nearby zoo. The carcass of the seal had being held in cold storage for over a week before the prankster dumped it in Loch Ness and called in an anonymous tip to his colleagues.
3 – Taco Bell Buys the Liberty Bell
For those of you reading this who is not from the United States the Liberty Bell is a symbol of national pride for Americans. On April Fool’s Day of 1996 Taco Bell took out a full page advertisement in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today and three other major newspapers so they could announce the historic sale of the Liberty Bell.
The advertisement claimed that in order to help alleviate the ever growing U.S. national debt, the Taco Bell restaurant chain had purchased the Liberty Bell with the intention of renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. The plan was to have the bell moved to the Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine, CA and allow the public to view it.
Since the Liberty Bell is considered to be a national treasure public emotion ran a little on the high side as a result of the advertisement. Thousands of people inundated Taco Bell and the National Park Service with phone calls.
When it was finally revealed the whole thing was a nationwide prank Taco Bell was happy to also announce an increase in sales over 2 days of 1.1 million dollars. Now, that is what we consider to be a profitable prank.
4 – Volcano Eruption
If you happen to live anywhere near a volcano I am sure, like most people, would be a little concerned if you looked out of your bedroom window to see clouds of black smoke bellowing into the air. In 1974 this is exactly what happened to the citizens of Sitka, Alaska when the dormant volcano Mount Edgecumbe began throwing out large clouds of black smoke. Residents of the town quickly took to the street in fits of panic and terror fearing that the volcano was about to unleash seven shades of hell.
As panic spread so did the word that the smoke being thrown into the air was not the volcano but the work of a local prankster named Porky Bickar. Apparently Porky Bickar had taken hundreds of rubber tires to the top of the mountain and set fire to them causing the large clouds of black smoke. Not only did the burning of the tyres throw huge quantities of toxic fumes into the air the had managed to dupe the town folk into thinking an eruption was about to take place.
It was another six years before the volcano erupted for real but when it did the town folk were convinced it was nothing more than another prank.
5 – Aliens Landing in London
It doesn’t take much to confuse your average Englishman so when a glowing UFO descended over the city of London mass public panic was ensured.
On March 31, 1989 the illuminated UFO appeared in the skies over London, hovered at low altitude long enough to gather plenty of attention, then landed on the outskirts of the city. Hundreds of overexcited and confused Londoners flocked to the landing location, ready to make first contact with the aliens. Rather than let just anyone make first contact a highly trained police officer was brought to the landing location and began poking the spacecraft with a stick he had found on the ground. The police officer was so well trained for the job he even managed to run away faster than a gymnast on meth when the door of the spacecraft began to open and a silver suited being stepped out ready to greet the crowds.
The excitement of alien contact was short lived when it was revealed that the alien was actually Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Records, wearing a spaceman costume. He had built the craft with the intention of landing in Hyde Park but was forced to make an early landing when high winds blew him off course.
6 – Left Handed Hamburgers
You will be looking for a long time if you try to find someone who does not know at least one person who is left handed. In fact there are at least 32 million left handed people in the United States alone. Back in 1998, fast food chain Burger King came to the conclusion that their left handed customers were not being properly provided for. To rectify this they took out an expensive full page advertisement in the USA Today newspaper to promote their new “left handed whopper.”
The Whopper was said to be exactly like the original right handed version except everything would be rotated 180 degrees. You can be forgiven for thinking this is the most ridiculous idea you have ever heard of but thousands of people rushed to their nearest McDonalds to sample the new burger. Not only did thousands of people rush to buy the burger plenty of people praised its better taste and claimed it was easier to handle when shovelling it into your mouth.
24 hours after the original advertisement Burger King issued a second press release to reveal that the left handed whopper was nothing more than a prank. For several weeks after the prank Burger Kings across the country had many of its customers requesting the left handed burger.
7 – The World’s First Internet Prank
Back in 1984 before Al Gore had single handedly invented the internet as we know it was known as Usenet. Usenet was one of the first forms of the internet that existed long before the internet as we know it came into existence It was around this time when Usenet members received a message from chernenko@kremvaxUUCP which stated the Soviet Union planned to join the global Usenet network.
This may not seem such a big deal but back in 1984 the USA was fully engulfed in Cold War fever and the idea that the Russians wanted to join Usenet was like Adolf Hitler wanting to visit Disney Land. On the other hand there were also plenty of people that, given the reclusive nature of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, felt the announcement was a massive step forward towards open relations.
Two weeks passed by without any further word from the Soviet Union and at this point Piet Beertema revealed that the message was nothing more than an elaborate prank.
Six years later when Russia finally joined the internet it used the domain “Kremvax” in honor of the world’s first internet prank.