Five Big-Scale Pranks We Like

The Washington Post Sunday - - Sunday Source -

From the Mu­seum of Hoaxes’ list of Top 100 April Fools’ Day Hoaxes of All Time at­se­u­mof 1957: The Swiss Spaghetti Har­vest. A BBC news show an­nounced that a mild win­ter and the elim­i­na­tion of the spaghetti wee­vil caused a bumper spaghetti crop in Switzer­land. The show ran footage of Swiss peas­ants pulling strands of spaghetti from trees. Many view­ers called the sta­tion to learn how they could grow their own spaghetti trees. The BBC replied that they should “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.” 1974: The Erup­tion of Mount Edge­cumbe. Porky Bickar, a prankster in Sitka, Alaska, flew hun­dreds of tires into a dor­mant vol­cano and set them on fire. Black smoke rose from the crater, and the towns­peo­ple of Sitka pan­icked, fear­ing an erup­tion. When Mount St. He­lens erupted sev­eral years later, a Sitka res­i­dent is said to have writ­ten to Bickar, “This time you’ve gone too far.” 1979: Op­er­a­tion Par­al­lax. A Bri­tish ra­dio sta­tion an­nounced that the gov­ern­ment planned to resyn­chro­nize the cal­en­dar. The rea­son? Bri­tain had grad­u­ally be­come 48 hours ahead of the rest of the world be­cause of switch­ing back and forth from Bri­tish Sum­mer Time, so the gov­ern­ment de­cided to can­cel April 5 and 12 that year. The sta­tion re­ceived nu­mer­ous calls. One wo­man asked if she had to pay her em­ploy­ees for the miss­ing days. 1998: A Whop­per of a Whop­per. Burger King pub­lished a full-page ad in USA To­day an­nounc­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of a Left-Handed Whop­per, spe­cially de­signed for the 32 mil­lion left-handed Amer­i­cans. Ac­cord­ing to the ad, the new Whop­per in­cluded the same in­gre­di­ents as the orig­i­nal, but all the condi­ments were ro­tated 180 de­grees. The fol­low­ing day, Burger King is­sued a fol­low-up re­lease re­veal­ing that al­though the Left-Handed Whop­per was a hoax, thou­sands of cus­tomers had gone into restau­rants to ask for the burger. And, ac­cord­ing to Burger King, “many oth­ers re­quested their own ‘right-handed’ ver­sion.” 1998: The Great Nat Tate. A lav­ish party was held at artist Jeff Koons’s New York stu­dio to honor the me­mory of the late, great Amer­i­can artist Nat Tate, that trou­bled ab­stract ex­pres­sion­ist who de­stroyed 99 per­cent of his work be­fore leap­ing to his death from the Staten Is­land ferry. At the party, su­per­star David Bowie read aloud se­lec­tions from writer William Boyd’s soon-to-be re­leased bi­og­ra­phy, “Nat Tate: An Amer­i­can Artist, 1928-1960.” Crit­ics in the crowd mur­mured ap­pre­cia­tive com­ments about Tate’s work as they sipped their drinks. The only catch was that Tate had never ex­isted. He was the satir­i­cal cre­ation of Boyd. Bowie and Boyd’s pub­lisher were the only other ones in on the joke.

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