Friday, April 1, 2011

A look back at some April Fool's Day classics

April 1 is traditionally a day for pranks and practical jokes. In recent years, Google has made a habit of making outlandish April Fool's Day announcements. One year, for example, Google announced the addition of mind-reading technology that would make searching a breeze. Another year, the search giant posted job openings for a new research center on the moon.

A quick search for April Fool's Day pranks and hoaxes returns a treasure trove of gems. Here are a few highlights from Wikipedia and the Museum of Hoaxes:

* In 1957, the BBC announced a bumper spaghetti crop in Switzerland. Mild winter weather and the near eradication of the "spaghetti weevil" were credited with the excellent harvest. The BBC report includes images of people harvesting spaghetti strands from trees.

* In 1993, a San Diego DJ told his listeners the Space Shuttle Discovery would be landing at nearby Montgomery Field, due to issues at Edwards Air Force Base. Thousands of people turned out to see the landing... of a space shuttle that wasn't even in space at the time.

* In 1996, Taco Bell announced it had purchased the Liberty Bell and renamed it the "Taco Liberty Bell." In a statement, the company claimed the move was meant "to help the national debt" and that it hoped "other corporations [would] take similar action to do their part to reduce the country's debt." When asked about the hoax, White House press secretary Mike McCurry, playing along, said that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold and would now be called the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.

* Another fast-food-related April Fool's Day prank happened in 1998, when Burger King introduced the "left-handed Whopper." The new burger contained all of the same ingredients as its namesake, but the condiments were rotated 180 degrees, for the benefit of the 32 million left-handed Americans.

Here's hoping you have a fun April first.

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