April Fools’ Day
Celebrating pranks and foolish tricks one day a year is a custom that goes back centuries and spans cultures as diverse as Iran (or Persia as it was), Poland, Argentina, Europe (of course!) and North America. Here’s a round-up of past pranks that have had us fooled…
- In 1998 Burger King published an advert in the US showcasing its brand new Left-Handed Whopper, specially designed for the 32 million left handed Americans. The condiments on the burger had been rotated 180 degrees, it claimed, and thousands of customers requested the new sandwich.
- Guardian readers were fooled by its 1977 special feature on a small country in the Indian Ocean, called San Serriffe. The seven-page report included a map of the fictional paradise, which was shaped like a semi-colon and had two main islands called Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse. It boasted that terrorism had been ‘virtually eliminated’ from its many beaches and teenagers living there could study ‘pearl diving’ at A Level.
- Hundreds of people phoned the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree, after Panorama broadcast a story about a bumper spaghetti harvest in Switzerland, in 1957.
- In 1962 viewers in Sweden were sent dashing to their underwear draws after a TV broadcaster announced an intriguing discovery. Kjell Stensson informed viewers that simply covering their television screen with a pair of tights, would make the image appear in colour – a high concept idea for a time when there was just one channel in Sweden and all programmes were shown in black and white.
- In 1980 listeners responded angrily after the BBC reported that Big Ben was to be given a digital clock face, in order to keep up with the times. The BBC service in Japan also announced that the iconic clock hands would be sold to the first four listeners who contacted them. A hopeful sailor in the mid-Atlantic immediately radioed in a bid.