On this day in 1700, English jokers began making popular the annual tradition of April Fools' Day by playing practical jokes on each other. Although the day, also known as All Fools Day, has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, its exact origins remain a mystery. In present day, people have gone to tremendous lengths to create elaborate April Fools' hoaxes. Newspapers, radio, TV stations, and websites have participated in outrageous fictional stunts or claims to fool their audiences. Below are 4 of the most unforgettable public pranks in recent history:
The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest
The spaghetti tree hoax took place in 1957 by a BBC current affairs program.The three minute broadcast reported a family in Southern Switzerland harvesting spaghetti from the family "spaghetti tree". At the time, spaghetti was relatively little known in the UK, so many people were unaware that it was made from wheat flour and water. This resulted in many viewers contacting the BBC for advice on how to grow their own spaghetti trees. Decades later, CNN called this broadcast "the biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled".
The Curious Case of Sid Finch
In a 1985 issue of Sports Illustrator, a long time SI contributor, George Plimpton told the tale of a young man who could throw a baseball 168 mph. According to Plimpton, Finch was raised in an orphanage, learned yoga in Tibet, and could throw a fastball like no one else. Neither the date nor the unusually long subheader clued readers into the fact that it was a hoax. The first letters of each word spelled out "Happy April Fools Day".
Taco Liberty Bell
The fast food restaurant chain Taco Bell took out a full-page advertisement in seven leading U.S. newspapers announcing that the company had purchased the Liberty Bell. They claimed they were going to "reduce the country's debt" and renamed it the "Taco Liberty Bell". Thousands of people called Taco Bell headquarters before it was revealed at noon on April 1st that the story had been an April Fools' Day hoax. White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry acknowledged the hoax by stating that the federal government was also "selling the Lincoln Memorial to Ford Motor Co. and renaming it the Lincoln-Mercury Memorial".
In 1998, Burger King advertised in a full-page ad in the USA Today, that they had come up with a solution for the 1.4 million left-handed customers visiting their restaurants every day. They claimed all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees to suit the left-handed burger fanatics. Southpaws were eager to try the left-handed burger the next day at Burger Kings across the country. The thought that the burger is created equally for all people, no matter which hand is dominant apparently never crossed their minds.
You may be surprised by the transformation at Backwater Jack's next time you come visit. It is not a hoax. We may look different on the outside the next time you come by, but we will still be the same great waterfront restaurant at the Lake of the Ozarks on the inside! We will continue to offer our eclectic blend of food, drinks and entertainment.