On 4/1/14, NPR News posted a link on its Facebook page to an article titled “Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore?” The link generated 1.7K comments on Facebook. It quickly became evident that many commenters hadn’t bothered to actually the article, which is reprinted here in its entirety:
5. THE MICHIGAN SHARK EXPERIMENT
In 1981, the in Roscommon, MI reported that the federal government had allocated $1.3 million to release two thousand sharks into three northern Michigan lakes in order to perform “an in-depth study into the breeding and habits of several species of fresh-water sharks.” A spokesman for the nonexistent National Biological Foundation dismissed reported fears expressed by local fishermen and swimmers by stating:
6. THE SWISS SPAGHETTI TREES
In 1957, the BBC ran a hoax segment on a show called depicting video footage of Swiss peasants allegedly harvesting limp spaghetti strands from trees. It claimed that a mild winter and a near total annihilation of the “spaghetti weevil” had led to a larger than average crop of the famous and beloved pasta. The BBC was deluged with requests from viewers who wanted to know how they can grow their own spaghetti tree. The BBC’s stock answer was, “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.” CNN refers to this prank as “the biggest hoax any reputable news establishment ever pulled.”
7. THE WASHING OF THE LIONS
According to the Museum of Hoaxes, the earliest recorded April Fools prank was in 1698. Rumors were spread throughout London that the ritual “Washing of the Lions” would occur at the Tower of London on April 1. Several curious Britons showed up, only to see neither lions nor washing. On April 2, 1698, a publication called reported that “Yesterday being the first of April, several persons were sent to the Tower Ditch to see the Lions washed.” This hoax was repeated for years, as is evidenced by a fraudulent invitation from 1857 that reads, “Please to Admit the Bearer and friend, to view the ANNUAL CEREMONY OF WASHING THE LIONS on Wednesday, April 1st, 1857.”
8. THE STINGLESS BEE
A full-page article in from 1924 announced that a Washington State beekeeper named E. J. Campbell would be displaying his genetically modified “stingless bee” that he’d developed from a strain of “industrious but peevish” bees. Mr. Campbell claimed that his new breed of honeybee would fly away if attacked and also made a terrific playmate for kids. After being showered with inquiries from beekeepers across North America, Campbell revealed it was only an April Fools prank.
9. ‘Chicago Invaded by Hordes of Prehistoric Monsters Dealing Death and Destruction’
That was the headline for a two-page spread in the from April 1, 1906. The article claimed the prehistoric beasts had originated from “Atlantis,” and the photo spread was replete with wonderfully cheesy digitally retouched pics of brontosauruses and pterodactyls wreaking holy hell upon the Windy City.
10. TWITTER DOWNSIZES TO 133 CHARACTERS
In 2012, a Tweet from NPR News announced that “Tweets Will Shrink To 133 Characters: The seven-character change is expected to save Twitter $1.4 billion this year.” After revealing the prank, NPR said that other April Fools ideas they’d rejected included “Facebook Adds ‘Meh’ Button” and “Penguin Brawls Reported From Shrinking North Pole.”
11. THE ‘GOOGLE GULP’
The digital oligarchs at Google have pulled multiple April Fools pranks nearly every year since 2000. One shining example was 2005’s “Google Gulp,” a soft drink that would facilitate one’s search-engine experience by increasing the intelligence of whomever imbibed Google’s new beverage, which came in flavors such as Glutamate Grape, Beta-Carroty, and Sero-Tonic Water. Anyone who fell for the prank unwittingly revealed that they would benefit from having their intelligence increased.
12. WYOMING LEGALIZES MARIJUANA
On April 1, 1977, the ran a hoax article claiming that the Wyoming State Legislature had legalized the possession of under one ounce of marijuana for personal use. Lawsuits from people subsequently arrested for marijuana possession eventually drove the paper to declare bankruptcy.
13. THE LEFT-HANDED WHOPPER
On April 1, 1998, Burger King took out a full-page ad in claiming that they were releasing a “Left-Handed Whopper” to enhance the fast-food dining experience of the 32 million or so of us
like mewho are left-handed. The new Whopper was exactly like the regular Whopper, only it had been “rotated 180 degrees” to accommodate the unique gustatory needs of lefties. Similar April Fools pranks include a left-handed Mars bar, a left-handed Toshiba notebook, a left-handed cellphone, and a left-handed golf ball.