As we approach another April 1, some of us take this as an opportunity to use a vacation day or hide in our offices with the door closed in fear of inevitable shenanigans. The media has certainly never shied away from this day, as it provides an opportunity to relax and compose something a little more lighthearted than we are accustomed to reading.
Let’s talk about something a little more current. With the advent of modern media and the internet, pranks, jokes and general misinformation are easier than ever to disseminate to the public. Here are our choices for the top 10 April Fool’s jokes from mainstream media.
BBC’s Spaghetti Harvest (1957)
What: The BBC’s news show, Panorama, aired a three-minute segment about Swiss farmers harvesting spaghetti from trees, attributing the bumper crop to the mild winter and the virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil.
Why: The prank played on the public’s lack of knowledge about the production of spaghetti, making the incredible scenario seem plausible.
Reaction: Many viewers believed the hoax and called the station, asking how to grow their own spaghetti trees.
Left-Handed Whopper (1998)
What: Burger King published a full-page ad in USA Today announcing the introduction of a new “Left-Handed Whopper” specially designed for left-handed customers, featuring the same ingredients but with the condiments rotated 180 degrees.
Why: The joke poked fun at the idea of unnecessary product customization and gullibility of consumers.
Reaction: Many customers ordered the joke burger, while others requested the “right-handed” version.
Google Nose (2013)
What: Google unveiled a new search feature called “Google Nose” that supposedly allowed users to search and experience over 15 million unique scents, using a technology called “Aromabase.”
Why: The idea of a scent-based search engine seemed hilariously outlandish and bizarre, poking fun at the rapid advancements in technology.
Reaction: People were amused and intrigued by the prank, and some even attempted to use the feature before realizing it was a joke.
Richard Branson’s UFO (1989)
What: Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, collaborated with a hot-air balloon specialist to create a UFO-shaped balloon. On April 1st, they flew it over London, even landing in a field where a police officer approached it, only to be greeted by Branson in a silver space suit.
Why: The elaborate prank made people believe they were witnessing an alien invasion, adding a sense of excitement and curiosity.
Reaction: Both the police and the public were initially alarmed, but once the prank was revealed, it was generally well accepted.
BBC’s Flying Penguins (2008)
What: As part of a fictional nature documentary, BBC released a video showing a colony of Adélie penguins suddenly taking flight and migrating to the Amazon rainforest. The video was created using cutting-edge CGI and was presented by renowned presenter Terry Jones.
Why: Penguins are famously flightless birds, so the idea of them suddenly gaining the ability to fly and migrating to a tropical rainforest was delightfully fantastical.
Reaction: Viewers were initially amazed, but soon realized it was an April Fool’s joke and enjoyed the humor behind the prank.
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