Four Outrageous April Fools! Pranks That Might Have Gone Too Far

'April fools day in lightbox

Today is April 1st, which means, no one you know is suddenly pregnant, you're not fired (or maybe you are, who knows really?), and it's very unlikely you or someone you know just won the lottery.

After all, the first day of April has long been the domain for pranksters and jokers who are trying to pull one over on you. That means, today you trust no one and nothing and everything is worth a second, skeptical glance.

The cheeky tradition is observed across dozens of cultures and is known by many different names, but, occasionally the joke can be taken too far. In fact, here are four (verifiable!) real-world examples of when April Fools just wasn't that funny.

 

BBC's Spaghetti Trees

Easily the best April Fools joke in the history of pranks, the Spaghetti Tree Hoax was FAKE NEWS before FAKE NEWS was a thing.

To set the stage: A current events show known as "Panorama" regularly took BBC viewers to exotic locations to explore the local landmarks and culture of the country. One report that aired on April Fools, 1957, was about an industrious family in Switzerland who worked hard every year to bring in the pasta crop by harvesting spaghetti from the "Spaghetti tree."

At the time, spaghetti wasn't the same well-known dinner staple it is now. Because Britons were unaware that the pasta was just a little wheat flour and water, people were thrilled to learn they could grow their own spaghetti. Hundreds of viewers called the BBC asking for tips on raising their own "spaghetti tree."

The broadcast was later referred as the "biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled."

Gmail Prank

Drop the Mic on GMail

Everyone knows how difficult it can be to communicate emotion and emphasis while writing an email. That thinking may be why Google believed they could get away with adding a "Drop the Mic" feature to Gmail. In 2016, the more than 1 billion users of the email service were briefly given the ability to add gif of a Minion dropping a microphone to the end of their email. The feature would also auto-archive any responses sent back to you on that thread, allowing you to have the "last word" (or at least the illusion of that).

Unfortunately, many users weren't aware of the difference between the orange 'mic drop send' button and the normal boring 'send' button, so the prank created havoc with people's email. One man even claimed he lost his because of the mic drop gif feature.

The online search giant apologized for the new feature, with Google software engineer Victorbogdan Anchidin writing in a blog that, "Well, it looks like we pranked ourselves this year.😟 Due to a bug, the Mic Drop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs."

We realize many of you use Gmail for very important messages, and we are sorry if Mic Drop was in any way harmful to you. Note that if you’re a Google Apps business, education or government user this feature was never turned on.

Future Google April Fools pranks were far less destructive. Last year's prank from Google allowed users to play a round of "Where's Waldo" with their Google Maps application.

 

Color Television is Achievable Through Pantyhose!

Television in the 60's was mostly a black and white affair, with color televisions only becoming popular in the mid-decade when more broadcasters began broadcasting color television signals. Until then, people were stuck with their black and white sets - or were they?

In 1962, Swedish broadcaster, Svergies, aired a segment with a "scientific expert" who said it was possible for people to easily upgrade their TV sets from black and white to color by simply stretching a pair of pantyhose over the TV screens.

But, because physics doesn't work that way, people just ended up being stuck with TVs that had a pair of broken pantyhoses lined around them.

Oh, by the way, Sweden wouldn't get color TV broadcasts until 1970.

Great Blue Hill eruption

The Great Blue Hill Eruption

A Boston TV producer who wanted to get in on the fun for April Fools in 1980 decided to produce a television broadcast about a hill in Milton, Massachusetts that had suddenly turned into a volcano and was currently belching out lava and spewing flames. To make the segment believable for viewers at home, the producer, Homer Cilley, included used fake warnings from then-president Jimmy Carter as well as footage from the recent eruption from Mt. Saint Helens.

Cilley included a title card at the end that informed viewers the segement had been a joke, but by then, the fake news had spread and hundreds of panicked citizens were busy calling law enforcement's phone lines to find out exactly what was going on. The producer was fired shortly after the broadcast aired for failing to exercise "good news judgement" and for breaching FCC regulations.

Photos: Getty Images, Wikimedia images

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