April Fools’ Day: The Best Pranks, Hoaxes, And Practical Jokes

As every school child knows, April Fools’ Day is the one day in a year when pranks, hoaxes, and practical jokes are the name of the game. Whether you go for an old classic, like putting salt in the sugar bowl, or think up something more creative, no one gets scolded for being mischievous on April 1.

In honor of this day of light-hearted naughtiness, we’ve gathered a list of some of the best April Fools’ Day pranks, hoaxes, and practical jokes. Here goes.

The Sydney Iceberg Hoax (April 1, 1978)

An iceberg in the water by a bridge in Iceland.
Smith pretended he’d dragged an iceberg all the way up from Antarctica. [Image by pichetw/Shutterstock]

Dick Smith, a successful Australian businessman, announced to the public that he had long planned to tow an iceberg up from Antarctica, and now at last his dream had come true. His iceberg was towed slowly through Sydney harbor, past the famous opera house, with several local radio stations providing live coverage of the event. Smith said he would sell the iceberg to the public one ice cube at a time, at ten cents a pop. The hoax was going well, until it started to rain. The rain washed away the shaving cream and firefighting foam the “iceberg” was made of, exposing the white plastic sheets below. Quite a frosty hoax for Australia’s start of fall!

Swiss Mountain Cleaners (April 1, 2009)

Well known for their ultra clean cities, the Swiss decided to have a bit of April Fools’ Day fun in 2009. The Swiss Tourism Board put out a prank video about the secret of their clean mountain ranges. According to the video, the pristine peaks are kept free of unsightly bird droppings by the Association of Swiss Mountain Cleaners. The bird-poop-scrubbing work of these volunteers also helps prevent erosion which, if left unchecked, would fill the mountains with “cavities,” leading to their ultimate destruction. The video went viral, and 30,000 people took an online test to see if they had what it takes to be a “Felsenputzer,” the German word for mountain cleaner. This popular hoax inspired the Brunni cable car company to offer a “mountain cleaning” course to tourists later in the year.

LA Freeways Shut Down For Repair (April 1, 1987)

Los Angeles is perhaps best known for three things: celebrities, beach babe culture, and traffic congestion. In 1987, local radio disc jockey Steve Morris decided to pull an April Fools’ Day prank by announcing freeways in both Los Angeles and Orange county would be closed for nearly a month starting April 8. People started to panic, flooding Caltrans (California Department of Transportation), the California Highway Patrol and the radio station with hundreds of calls. Although Morris shouted “April Fools!” at 9:30 a.m., many people were not amused. The radio station KRTH-FM later said they were shocked by people’s reaction to the practical joke, and admitted Caltrans told them in a phone call they “didn’t think it was very funny.”

Viagra For Hamsters (April 1, 2000)

Grey hamster biting on the bars of its cage.
According to the article, this critter may be asking himself, “Am I unattractive?” [Image by Andres Kudacki/AP Images]

The Independent, an English newspaper, thought up an April Fools’ Day hoax to address the needs of lonely pets, such as hamsters and guinea pigs. The article suggested that many small animals are suffering from feelings of sexual inadequacy. These poor pets sit alone in their cages, asking themselves, “Am I unattractive?” To combat these stressful feelings, they claimed veterinarians created a viagra-like drug called Feralmone. In the article, the pranksters wrote owners should simply grind up the pills and sprinkle them in their pet’s food. Afterwards, they’re guaranteed a perky, frisky, sexually confident fur ball—exactly what every pet owner needs!

Spaghetti Harvest in Switzerland (April 1, 1957)

Perhaps the most famous April Fools’ Day hoax of all time is the Swiss spaghetti harvest thought up by the BBC. In this prank video, a journalist tells the story of Switzerland’s “exceptionally heavy spaghetti crop” in clipped British English. The joke continues with facts about the trials and tribulations of Swiss spaghetti farmers, including their battle against the pesky spaghetti weevil. Many viewers were fooled by this practical joke, and some even called the BBC to find out where they could buy a spaghetti tree of their own.

What’s your favorite April Fools’ Day prank, hoax or practical joke?

[Featured Image by racorn/Shutterstock]

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