April Fools’ Day, also called All Fools’ Day, has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, however its exact origins remain a mystery.
There is speculation that April Fool's Day dates back to the switch of the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar by France back in 1582. People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. These pranks included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.
Others speculate that it could be tied to the ancient Rome festival called Hilaria. This was a festival celebrated at the end of March in which people involved dressed up in disguises.
In the 18th century April Fool's Day spread across Britain. Scotland had a tradition that became a two-day event that began with "hunting the gowk" where people were sent on phony errands. The word gowk meaning cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool. The event ended with Tailie Day in which involved pranks on people by placing fake tails or "kick me" signs on them.
Today April Fool's is celebrated in great lengths by Newspapers, radio, TV Statistics and Web sites. Some of the most outrageous and fictional claims in the past include:
In 1980, a BBC World Service news announcement reported that Big Ben would be given a digital display.
In 1985, Sports Illustrated tricked many of its readers when it ran a made-up article about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour.
In 1992, National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation reported that Richard Nixon, who resigned in 1974 following the Watergate Scandal, had declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination
In 1996, Taco Bell, the fast-food restaurant chain, duped people when it announced it had agreed to purchase Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and intended to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell.
In 1998, after Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper,” scores of clueless customers requested the fake sandwich.
In 2005 Google announced they were branching out with a new drink called the Google Gulp.
For a listing of the top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes, click here.
In 2019 the tradition continues with efforts from Hello Fresh and their unicorn box option, Lego and their find my brick app, McDonald's new Milkshake Sauce Pots, and Google's talk to your tulips and temporary playable version of Nokia-phone's classic Snake within Google Maps.
What's your favorite 2019 April Fool's Prank?