You will surely have noticed by now that today is April 1st, better known as April Fools’ Day. In celebration of this most silly of days, here are ten of the most famous fake stories from around the world from years gone by, and five more from today which you may not have seen yet.
1. Spaghetti grows on trees (1957)
BBC documentary programme Panorama broadcast a three-minute film about the spaghetti harvest in Switzerland. A mild winter and the virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil were credited for a bumper crop.
2. Internet to close for cleaning (1997)
An email warned users around the world that the internet would be closed down for cleaning for twenty-four hours from March 31st until April 2nd in order to clear out the “electronic flotsam and jetsam” that had built up on the web, with the cleaning carried out by Internet-crawling robots. (In a previous version of this joke, telephone customers were warned the phone network would be cleaned on April 1st, and advised to cover their phone with plastic bags to catch any dust which might be blown out during the process.
3. Moving the Eiffel Tower (1986)
Le Parisien claimed the Eiffel Tower would be dismantled and replaced with a 35,000-seater stadium. The tower would be reconstructed at the planned Euro Disney theme park just outside Paris.
4. Burger King’s left-handed Whopper (1998)
As April Fools go, this one genuinely was a whopper. A full-page ad in USA Today announced Burger King’s latest menu item, a left-handed Whopper. The new burger had the same ingredients as its standard counterpart, but with all the condiments rotated 180 degrees. Thousands of customers flooded into the chain’s restaurants, demanding both the new Whopper and its right-handed equivalent.
5. Flying penguins (2008)
The BBC announced that a TV crew filming near the Antarctic had recorded footage of Adélie penguins in flight, complete with a video clip. It explained that these penguins migrated to the South American rainforests to spend the winter basking in the sun. The video was, of course, computer-generated.
6. Metric time (1975)
An Australian news programme broke the story that the country would convert to ‘metric time’, a new system in which there would be 20 ‘decidays’ (hours) in a day, 100 ‘centidays’ (minutes) per deciday and 100 ‘millidays’ (seconds) per minute. The town hall in Adelaide was shown with a new 10-hour clock face.
7. Ferret broadband (2010)
The Daily Telegraph reported that ferrets were being used to lay broadband cables in rural areas, including a photo of a ferret complete with high-visibility jacket, traffic cone and ferrets-at-work sign.
8. Turning the M25 into a one-way system (1991)
The Times ran a story claiming that the Department of Transport had decided to ease growing congestion on the M25, London’s orbital motorway, by making the traffic on both carriageways travel in the same direction – on alternate days, traffic would be routed either clockwise or anti-clockwise. An unnamed resident of Swanley in Kent was allegedly quoted as saying:
Villagers use the motorway to make shopping trips to Orpington. On some days this will be a journey of two miles, and on others a journey of 117 miles. The scheme is lunatic.
9. Making ends meet in the Channel Tunnel (1990)
The News of the World reported that the massively over-budget Channel Tunnel construction project had been beset by the realisation that the two halves of the tunnel were not going to meet in the middle. The blunder was blamed on French engineers using metric specifications in their blueprints, and the error would cost several billion pounds to fix.
10. Digital Big Ben (1980)
The BBC claimed that Big Ben was going to be updated, with digital readouts replacing the original clock faces.
And here are five from this morning:
1. GMail Motion
Google has a long history of April 1st pranks. This year’s contribution from the GMail team is a new system called GMail Motion which allows you to operate your GMail account via a series of simple gestures with the aid of a webcam. It includes an instructional video and a crib sheet of basic gestures.
Incidentally, Google China is promoting its new Google 穿越搜索 (Google Teleport) service, which allows users to time travel.
2. The wedding of the year?
The Telegraph published a leaked email from Labour Party official Flora Lopi – hmm, an anagram? – asking party members to celebrate the forthcoming marriage of party leader Ed Miliband and his finacée Justine Thornton by throwing street parties, consuming Mini Mili Trifles and putting together musical ‘Mili bands’. A spokesman for Miliband refused to comment on the email, but added:
Actually, Ed isn’t that partial to trifle, though he is very fond of a gooseberry fool.
3. BMW’s ‘royal edition’
Adverts in several newspapers today have announced new special edition ‘royal’ versions of BMW cars – badged ‘Will’ – in Regal Red, Bridal White and Imperial Blue.
4. It’s Ken Bruce, but not as we know him
Comedian Rob Brydon presented Ken Bruce‘s entire Radio 2 show this morning impersonating the presenter himself.
5. Restaurant using iPad 2 as plates
Tech website CNet is reporting that a new London restaurant called Tableau is using iPad 2s (displaying images of white china plates) as plates at its tables, with iPod Touches serving as side plates. The restaurant is decked out in all-white decor, and includes an all-black room.