As pranksters, jokesters and class clowns prepare for April Fools’ Day Friday, past masters of the annual observance have set a high bar for them. Ahead of the 2016 shenanigans, here’s a look back at some of the best pranks perpetrated around the world.
The Taco Liberty Bell, 1996: Fast-food chain Taco Bell took out full-page advertisements in six major newspapers, including the New York Times, claiming it had purchased the historic Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. The chain restaurant claimed it would rename the U.S. monument the “Taco Liberty Bell,” causing outrage among hapless citizens nationwide.
Sidd Finch, 1985: In a bit published by Sports Illustrated, author George Plimpton collaborated with Mel Stottlemyre, then the pitching coach of the New York Mets, to write a story saying a rookie named Hayden Siddhartha Finch had thrown a fastball more than 165 mph. Stottlemyre even posed for a photograph with “Sidd,” played by an art teacher, in the Mets locker room.
The Sydney Iceberg, 1978: Australian millionaire Dick Smith convinced Sydney residents he had towed an iceberg from Antarctica to the Sydney Harbour and was offering to sell cubes of its ice as souvenirs for 10 cents. As it began to rain, Smith’s so-called iceberg was revealed to be a pile of firefighters’ foam, shaving cream and sheets. The businessman still gave ice cubes to some residents who had come to see the iceberg — except they came from his beer cooler.
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) March 31, 2016
Planetary Alignment, 1976: An astronomer on BBC Radio convinced listeners that at 9:47 a.m. April 1, 1976, Pluto and Jupiter would align in such a way as to temporarily reduce gravity on Earth, thus causing a floating sensation. Sure enough, the hoax worked, and dozens of callers flooded BBC Radio shortly afterward to describe their experiences.
Instant Color Television, 1962: A faux technical expert went on Swedish television to describe to viewers how they could make their own color TV sets by covering their black-and-white TV screens with nylon stockings. Color TV wasn’t widely available until the mid-1960s.