Iconic April Fools’ Day pranks for the ages

There’s a lot of conjecture about how and where April Fools’ Day originated.

Some say Geoffrey Chaucer first referenced it in The Canterbury Tales, way back in 1392. 

In the Nun’s Priest’s Tale a vain rooster is tricked by a wily fox on April 1, but some believe there was a misprint and the author meant May 1.

Another theory is that the French invented April Fools’ Day because in the Middle Ages, New Year’s Day was on March 25 in most places, with a holiday on April 1.

It’s thought that those who celebrated on January 1 would mock those that celebrated in April and play jokes and pranks on them.

A third theory is that the Dutch invented the day following the victory at Brielle in 1572.

Whether it was the Dutch, the French or others that invented April Fools’ Day, one thing is for sure – it’s not going away anytime soon and there’s been many a good prank played over the years.

Here’s just a few of the most iconic April Fools’ Day pranks over the years.

The spaghetti hoax

In 1957 the BBC aired a three-minute segment on its current affairs show, Panorama, showing Swiss farmers picking spaghetti from trees. After the BBC was flooded with questions about where viewers could buy a spaghetti tree, the station had to reveal it was all a hoax.

Dogs are all white

In Denmark in 1965, a Copenhagen newspaper reported parliament had passed a new law saying all dogs had to be painted white to improve road safety at night.

Big Ben goes digital

You’d think with the BBC having prior form for April Fools Day tricks, people would have quickly cottoned on when the station claimed in 1980 that London’s iconic clock tower, Big Ben, was going digital. The news report even claimed the clock hands would be given away to the first four listeners to contact the station.

The Eiffel Tower in Disneyland

In 1986, French news outlet Le Parisien said the Eiffel Tower would be dismantled and rebuilt in Disneyland Paris. 

Whining about wine

In 1987, Norwegian citizens got word that the government was giving away 10,000 litres of confiscated wine. It was only when people showed up carrying empty bottles and containers that they learned it was a prank.

Sleep tight

In Canada, WestJet airlines is known for its April Fool’s Day pranks and in 2008 it offered passengers a small ‘sleeper cabin’ in its planes overhead luggage compartments. For an extra $12, the airline said passengers could lay down in the luggage racks so they arrived at their destination refreshed and rested.

Toilet paper hoax

In 2015, toilet paper brand Cottonelle announced it was releasing a special line of toilet paper called ReverseRipple specifically for left-handed people. Needless to say many were confused.

The pooch palace and selling underwater property

Back in 2016, Ray White played one of the greatest pranks on the industry, claiming they had a new real estate service for man’s best friend on the way and had even sold a pooch palace for $1.25m.

They got us all again in 2018, when they claimed to have sold Sydney’s first underwater property in response to rising prices on land.

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