Since I love doing research, I checked out a number of important facts about the first of April. An early precursor of April Fool’s Day was an ancient Roman festival called “Hilaria” which was celebrated around the first day of Spring. The days were highlighted by events of rejoicing including births of children, successes in life and probably acknowledging the greatness of Rome. Every one had to be upbeat and no one was allowed to show signs of sorrow or grief. And given how serious those Romans were, you would probably not want to fool around with that day or you might have become a sacrificial joke! The Museum of Hoaxes catalogued a list of the best April Fool’s jokes for the past 60 years or so, and here are their results. Some people are so gullible!
- In 1957 a British news show broadcast a 3 minute sequence about how there was a bumper spaghetti harvest in Southern Switzerland due to the mild winter. Listeners were so captivated, they wanted to know where they could buy a spaghetti tree.
- Legendary sports writer George Plimpton wrote about Sidd Finch who would be the savior for the New York Mets since he could pitch a fast ball at 165 mph (For those of you who are not ready for the baseball season starting today, 90 mph is a good fastball speed).
- In 1996, Taco Bell announced that they had bought the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and were renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Folks were unnerved and Taco Bell (aka Pepsico) had to announce that it was a joke. But, to me, it seems like such a great joke that I may go get a Gordita today just to celebrate their good style
- In April, 1977, the British newspaper, The Guardian published a seven page supplement about the tiny islands in the Indian Ocean named San Sarriffe. It consisted of several semi-colon islands with the major ones being called Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse. Few people caught the grammatical implications and it seems this bit of journalistic tomfoolery began a trend in the newspaper industry (see number 2 above)
- In 1998 Physicist Mark Boslough released a news story stating that the Alabama State Legislature had voted to change the value of the mathematical constant “pi” from 3.14 to the “biblical value” of 3.0. Outraged mathematicians (how many of them are there?) called the Alabama State offices to protest only to discover that it was a April Fool’s prank designed to mock legislative efforts to modify science.