12 Best April Fools Pranks Ever Pulled Off
Think you’ve pulled off the prank of the century? Think again! Since the beginning of mass media, there have been epic pranks carried out every April 1st— sometimes by high ranking government officials, newspapers, or just cunning entrepreneurs. Here’s a list of some of the best pranks ever carried out in the name of April Fools’ Day.
Wisconsin Capitol Collapse
In 1933, a newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin ran a front-page article declaring that the State Capitol building had collapsed due to “hot air” from arguing legislators. The article was accompanied by a remarkably realistic looking photograph that showed the formerly proud dome of the Capitol lying in ruins around the base of the building. The article slyly suggested that “that large quantities of gas, generated through many weeks of verbose debate in the Senate and Assembly chambers, had in some way been ignited.”
Although some people realized it was a joke, many other people were upset that the article took such a light tone with something that they didn’t think was a joking matter.
Instant Color TV
It was 1962, in Sweden. The Swedes still only had black and white television, and were watching other countries around the world experience color TV for the first time. Then, on April 1st 1962, the “technical expert” for the national broadcasting agency got on the air, and described a miraculous new discovery that would allow Swedes to view their broadcasts in color, too. Putting simple nylon stockings over the television, he explained, would bend the light in such a way that viewers would suddenly be able to see the broadcast in color.
Thousands of people fell for the prank. Many Swedes today fondly remember their parents running into the bedroom to cut up a pair of stockings to try for themselves.
Spaghetti Trees in Switzerland
In 1957, on April Fools’ Day, viewers of the British TV show Panorama were treated to a 3-minute broadcast that reported on the excellent spaghetti crop that was currently growing in Switzerland. The usually-serious news anchor Richard Dimbleby hosted the segment, which showed footage of a rosy-cheeked Swiss family gaily pulling spaghetti down from the trees and placing their harvest in baskets. Thousands of people wrote into the BBC to ask how they could grow their own spaghetti trees at home in the UK.
The report was masterminded by one of the cameramen, a practical joker at heart, who had grown up hearing a strict teacher say to his class: “Boys, you’re so stupid, you’d believe me if I told you that spaghetti grows on trees.”