Last year to honor April Fool’s Day I wrote an essay on the history of this “holiday” for pranksters. Check that out here: The Origin of April Fool’s Day… Maybe. I also shared a few of my favorite hoaxes from the past in this post: April Fool’s Day ~ Hoaxes in History
The best place to visit online for everything about this crazy day is The Museum of Hoaxes. That site is wild! They hunt down tricks played on gullible folks from the past and present. The ones I chose to share today are from The Museum of Hoaxes, and are my favorites from the recent years.
Hysterical April Fool’s Day hoaxes in recent years
Glass-Bottomed Planes (2013) Virgin Airlines announced that it would be adding glass-bottomed planes to its fleet, in order to ensure that “passengers can enjoy both an unparalleled flying experience, as well as a selection of stunning landscapes from the comfort of their seats.”
The company promised that every passenger would enjoy “the chance of a bird’s eye view with an extra special opportunity to look down on the beautiful scenery of Great Britain as they fly.”
Why doesn’t America read anymore? (2014) On its Facebook page, NPR News shared a link to an article with the provocative title, “Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore?” The link generated hundreds of comments. Some agreed with the premise. Others disagreed. But what these responses shared in common was that the people who posted them apparently hadn’t clicked through to look at the article itself. If they had, they would have discovered an announcement that read, “We sometimes get the sense that some people are commenting on NPR stories that they haven’t actually read. If you are reading this, please like this post and do not comment on it. Then let’s see what people have to say about this ‘story.'”
The Yorkshire Savoury (2013) The Yorkshire Times reported that a new “EU Labelling Directive” mandated accurate descriptions on all food products, including “an indication of whether the product is a sweet or savoury item.” It would be illegal to use misleading terms such as “pudding” on a savoury product.
For this reason, the term “Yorkshire Pudding” would be banned. The regional delicacy would henceforth be described as a “Yorkshire Savoury.” The legislation was facing stiff resistance from Yorkshire chefs and restaurateurs, but the Times warned that “EU legislators are unlikely to be swayed.”
Was Shakespeare French? (2010) The Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 ran a segment reporting that an excavation at Shakespeare’s last home had unearthed evidence (a locket with a French inscription) suggesting that the playwright’s mother was French — and that, by extension, so was the Bard himself. The segment included an interview with a former French Culture Minister who said, “We are delighted to learn that Shakespeare was French… Of course we have Racine and Molière, but we will make some room for him in our national pantheon of literature.” France had reportedly asked to borrow the locket to display it in France.
The Graffiti Grannys (2010) Residents of Mousehole, Cornwall woke to find their town had been overrun by knitted mice. The small, woolen rodents lined the harbor and perched atop handrails. Each mouse had a note attached, “If you like me, please feel free to keep me.” A group calling itself the Graffiti Grannys took credit for the prank. They were a group of women, ranging in age from their mid-40s to 96, who loved to knit and loved to share their work. They explained that their motive for unleashing yarny creatures upon Mousehole was simply to make people smile.
Johns Hopkins Drops the “S” (2010) The Johns Hopkins University announced it was removing the seemingly superfluous “s” from its name, thereby becoming “John Hopkins University”. It admitted that it had long been fighting a “losing battle” against people who didn’t understand why the extra ‘s’ was there, and it had finally decided to “give up”. The University was named after merchant Johns Hopkins who left a $7 million bequest to create the institution in 1873, but new evidence suggested that Johns Hopkins had been the victim of “one of the most epic misspellings in the history of birth certificates” caused by “a slip of the quill by a myopic, and perhaps slightly tipsy, hospital registrar.”
Flying Penguins (2008) The BBC announced that camera crews filming near the Antarctic for its natural history series Miracles of Evolution had captured footage of Adélie penguins taking to the air. It offered a video clip of these flying penguins, which became one of the most viewed videos on the internet. (watch it below)
Presenter Terry Jones explained that, instead of huddling together to endure the Antarctic winter, these penguins took to the air and flew thousands of miles to the rainforests of South America where they “spend the winter basking in the tropical sun.” A follow-up video explained how the BBC created the special effects of the flying penguins.