In 1996, The Taco Bell Corporation announced it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell was housed to express their anger. Their nerves were only calmed when Taco Bell revealed, a few hours later, that it was all a practical joke. The best line of the day came when White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale. Thinking on his feet, he responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold. It would now be known, he said, as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.
In 1965, BBC TV featured an interview with a professor who had just invented a device called "Smellovision." This miraculous technology allowed viewers to experience directly in their own home aromas produced in the television studio. The professor offered a demonstration by cutting some onions and brewing coffee. A number of viewers called in to confirm that they distinctly experienced these scents as if they were there in the studio with him. Since no aromas were being transmitted, whatever these viewers thought they smelled coming out of their tv sets must be chalked up to the power of suggestion.
Comic strip fans opened their papers on April 1, 1997 and discovered that their favorite strips looked different. Not only that, but in many cases characters from other strips popped up out of place. The reason for the chaos was The Great Comics Switcheroonie. Forty-six comic-strip artists conspired to pen each other's strips for the day. For instance, Scott Adams of Dilbert took over Family Circus by Bil Keane, where he added a touch of corporate cynicism to the family-themed strip by having the mother tell her kid to "work cuter, not harder." Jim Davis of Garfield took over Blondie, which allowed him to show his famous overweight cat eating one of Dagwood's sandwiches. The stunt was masterminded by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott, creators of the Baby Blues comic strip. When asked why he participated, Scott Adams noted, "You don't get that many chances to tunnel under the fence."
In 1996, AOL subscribers who logged onto the service were greeted by a news flash announcing that a "Government Source Reveals Signs of Life on Jupiter." The claim was backed up by statements from a planetary biologist and an assertion by Ted Leonsis, AOL's president, that his company was in possession of documents proving that the government was hiding the existence of life on the massive planet. The story quickly generated over 1,300 messages on AOL. A spokesman for the company later explained that the hoax had been intended as a tribute to Orson Welles's 1938 Halloween broadcast of the War of the Worlds.
Viewers of the February 1998 broadcast of the Grammys were surprised when a semi-naked man with the word "Soy Bomb" scrawled on his chest danced out onto the stage during Bob Dylan's solo performance. The man (who was definitely not supposed to be there) was quickly escorted away by security guards. But a few months later, on April 1, Rhino Records proudly announced that it had signed Soy Bomb (as he was now known) to a two-year, six-album recording contract. Soy Bomb's first album would include covers of popular classics such as "Dancing Machine" and "You Dropped a Bomb on Me." A spokesman for Rhino Records commented that they had been moved to offer Soy Bomb a contract because the experience of watching him dance had been for them "kind of like when you eat too many Whoppers and you feel a little nauseous, but you're so happy you ate them."
And you can read the other 95 hoaxes right here!
And for ideas on how to pull off a prank today (April Fool's Day), click here!
Thanks, Museum of Hoaxes