Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Oddchester: Falling for the mother of all practical jokes

April Fool's Day, according to most historical accounts, originated in the 1500s to mock uninformed peasants who didn't realize that the new Gregorian calendar had taken effect.

"You're still using the Julian calendar? Oh, hey, a guy from the funeral home called and left a message for you to call back. Ask to talk to Mike Adaver."

Anyway, here's a look back at some of the best — and worst — April Fool's Day pranks from this year, and through history.

While 2016 had its share of online pranks, the announcement by Yahoo News — that Trader Joe's "will be closing all 457 locations by January 2017" — not only caused panic among the company's 10,000 or so employees, but also caused Rochester Magazine Associate Editor Jennifer Koksi to scream, "I'm leaving right now to go stock up on their Chai Tea!"

Open Table offered a free app that lets you taste food from a prospective restaurant by licking your phone's screen.


The most talked about prank for 2016, though, was talked about because — like all good pranks — it failed miserably.

Topping this year's list, Google installed its new "Mic Drop," a button that allowed users, when they got sick of an email thread, to remove themselves from that thread by sending a GIF of a Minion dropping a microphone.

Which sounds adorable, until you realize the Mic Drop was right next to the "send" button, and Gmail users everywhere were apparently replying to serious group email threads in what would appear, to the respondents, to be the most disrespectful way possible.

80-YEAR-OLD WOMAN'S EMAIL: "Lady Meowington and I just came from her vet, and we just found out my precious cat companion has feline leukemia."

50-YEAR-OLD SON'S RESPONSE: [Short video of a strange yellow creature laughing and dropping a microphone.]

80-YEAR-OLD WOMAN': "Lady Meowington comforted me through all of those holidays in which you never visited."

None of this year's pranks, though, managed to crack our top all-time list.

The prank: The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest.


What happened: On April 1, 1957, a BBC report on the "Swiss Spaghetti Harvest" showed Swiss farmers picking pasta off spaghetti trees as the show's anchor attributed the bumper spaghetti crop to the "mild winter" and the elimination of the "spaghetti weevil." The thousands of people who called about growing their own spaghetti were told to "Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

Why it's funny: "Spaghetti weevil."

Why it's disturbing: Dozens, possibly hundreds, of people planted spaghetti in cans of tomato sauce.

The prank: Taco Liberty Bell.

What happened: On April 1, 1996, Taco Bell announced that it had purchased the Liberty Bell and renamed it the Taco Liberty Bell. White House press secretary Mike McCurry, responding to the thousands of complaints, noted that the government "would also be selling the Lincoln Memorial to Ford Motor Company and renaming it the Ford-Lincoln-Mercury Memorial."

Why it's funny: "Thousands of complaints."

Why it's disturbing: "Thousands of complaints."

The prank: She's having a baby.


What happened: On April Fool's Day of 2004, I walked into the bathroom and saw, lying on the counter, a home pregnancy test (called something like "Bundle of Joy Tester Kit"). The mark inside the viewer window (euphemistically referred to as the "joyous surprise portal") looked like a 'plus' or an 'x.'

I rummaged through the garbage for the test's decoder key. The box was not there. While I would normally oppose government intervention in packaging rules, I now strongly believe that federal laws should mandate a uniformity of home pregnancy test result icons.

I stood in the bathroom and stared in the mirror as sweat poured down my forehead. In the living room, I could hear our (then) 3-year-old and 6-year-old fighting. One of them may have spilled cranberry juice on the tan carpeting.

As I remember it, I regrouped, exited the bathroom, and walked over to Lindy and knelt with my ear to her stomach and told her how much I loved her and how this third baby was like a blessing handed down directly from heaven. In Lindy's version, my kneeling was due to a lack of blood flow to my brain, at which point she said, simply, "April Fool's!" The pregnancy test was from when she was pregnant with our 3-year-old.

Why it's funny: It's not

Why it's disturbing: My wife held onto a used home pregnancy test for three years for the sake of a practical joke.

What To Read Next
Get Local