Valdosta Daily Times

March 31, 2013

April 1 a day for fools

The Valdosta Daily Times

-- — Today is April 1, also known as April Fool’s Day. Its exact origin depends on which website you read, but it’s generally accepted that it has been around since the early 1700s.

Over the years, numerous pranks and practical jokes have been played on friends, family and neighbors, most harmless and funny. But there have been times when tremendous hoaxes have been perpetrated on an unsuspecting public by news organizations. The stories have been so outlandish that it is generally thought that no one would actually be duped by them. And yet they were. By the thousands.

A quick look on the Internet reveals some of the most entertaining and amusing of public hoaxes over the years, most of which will make you wonder how anyone could have believed them, but believe them they did!

The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest was reported by the BBC in 1957. The report stated that due to a mild winter, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper crop of spaghetti, accompanied by a photo of women in the fields picking strands of spaghetti off of trees. Reportedly thousands called in, wanting to know how to grow the trees.

The Taco Bell Liberty Bell hoax started with a full page ad in a number of major newspapers announcing that the company bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Thousands protested to the government.

Nixon for President was announced on NPR’s Talk of the Nation in 1992. Thanks to technology and Rich Little’s impersonation of the former President, listeners were duped into believing that Richard Nixon had announced he was running again, under the campaign slogan, “I didn’t do anything wrong and I won’t do it again.” The show was flooded with calls before the hosts finally admitted to the hoax.

In 1976, BBC Radio (gotta love those Brits), conducted an interview with a British astronomer who announced that at exactly 9:47 a.m. that day, a unique planetary alignment would reduce the earth’s gravity momentarily. He told listeners that if they jumped in the air at the precise moment, they’d feel a floating sensation.

Soon after 9:47 a.m., the station soon began receiving calls from listeners who said they had experienced the sensation, with some claiming they had floated into the air.

You won’t find any hoaxes in today’s Times, as generally, stories that are true are far more frightening and bizarre than even journalists can imagine.