While most of us experience (fairly) innocent pranks between people we know on April Fools' Day, some of the biggest and best hoaxes have used airwaves and newspapers to fool audiences, cause uproar, and even ask the question: Well, if it’s on TV or in the paper, it must be true, right??
Check out some of the more infamous hoaxes pulled by mainstream media -- and try not get duped this April Fools' Day!
The BBC documentary show “Panorama” aired a three-minute segment on April 1 1957 about a family farm’s annual spaghetti harvest in the Alps of Switzerland. This particular pasta farm was much smaller than the typical pasta farms of Italy, and due to a mild winter, the spaghetti harvest was earlier than usual. The narrator describes the ability for uniform lengths of pasta to grow off of trees was the product of expert farming. The annual harvest is then celebrated by a traditional supper of what else? Pasta!
“For those who love this dish,” the narrator says, “there is nothing like real, homegrown spaghetti.”
People fell for the pasta prank, and hundreds of people called into the BBC to find out how to grow a spaghetti tree. This was one of the first April Fools’ Day hoaxes to utilize the relatively new medium of television to pull the prank.
Burger King’s “Lefthanded Whopper”
The April 1st, 1998 issue of USA Today had a full page ad announcing Burger King’s newest menu item... the Lefthanded Whopper. That’s right, finally a sandwich that caters to the southpaw crowd! The Lefthanded Whopper had all of the same ingredients as the traditional Whopper, but the condiments and bun were rotated 180 degrees to the left to accommodate lefties everywhere.
Believe it or not, customers rejoiced and thousands of people showed up to Burger Kings to try out the new burger, some even requested their own “righthanded” versions.
Nixon For President (Again)
An institution like National Public Radio surely wouldn’t sacrifice journalistic integrity for sake of a ruse, right? The April 1st, 1992 broadcast of NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” program broke news of former President Richard Nixon throwing his hat into the presidential race. The show even aired “exclusive” audio of the former POTUS announcing his campaign and saying “I never did anything wrong, and I won’t do it again.”
Calls of shock and outrage flooded NPR stations, and eventually the show admitted that the story was a hoax, and the Nixon’s voice was actually comedian Rich Little.