Historians have also linked April Fools’ Day to ancient festivals such as Hilaria, which was celebrated in Rome at the end of March and involved people dressing up in disguises. There’s also speculation that April Fools’ Day was tied to the vernal equinox, or first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, when Mother Nature fooled people with changing, unpredictable weather.
April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. In Scotland, the tradition became a two-day event, starting with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool) and followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them.
In modern times, people have gone to great lengths to create elaborate April Fools’ Day hoaxes. Newspapers, radio and TV stations, and websites have participated in the April 1 tradition of reporting outrageous fictional claims that have fooled their audiences.
In 1957, the BBC reported that Swiss farmers were experiencing a record spaghetti crop and showed footage of people harvesting noodles from trees; numerous people were fooled.
In 1985, Sports Illustrated tricked many of its readers when it ran a made-up article about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour.
In 1996, Taco Bell, the fast-food restaurant chain, duped people when it announced it had agreed to purchase Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and intended to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell.
In 1998, after Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper,” scores of clueless customers requested it.
April Fool’s Day Facts & Quotes
- Traditionally, pranksters shout April Fool as they reveal the joke. In the United Kingdom, jokes can only be played until midday. If someone plays a joke after midday, then they are the April Fool. In Ireland, tradition was to deliver an important letter to a person, who would then deliver the letter to another person, and so on. Once finally opened, the letter would say send the fool further.
- On April 1st 2015, the United States Army printed an article about army drones that would deliver 3D-printed pizzas to U.S. army soldiers across the world. The pizzas would be made to order and have a shelf life of three years. Researchers at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center were credited with the project and concept. The first drone pizza delivery was cited to be made by April Fools Day 2016.
- On March 31, 2015, Honda introduced the HR-V Selfie Edition (Honda HR-V SLF). The car featured 10 interior and exterior cameras to allow the driver to snap selfies, while the car is parked. Of course, this was an April Fool’s Day joke.
- On April 1, 2015, singer and actor Katy Perry Instagrammed a photo of herself with her hair chopped off. The photo was captioned with
I asked for the Kris Jenner. Perry is known for her ever-changing image transformations, leaving the internet speculating on whether this was actually a prank or if Perry had in fact cut her hair. In the days that followed, Perry’s photos revealed that this was only a prank.
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.Chinese Proverb.