A time to smile with April Fools’ Day

  • 30th Mar 20
A time to smile with April Fools’ Day

There doesn’t seem much to be happy about at the moment but in times of trouble, it helps to turn to the laughter. With April Fools’ Day just around the corner, we unleash our inner child to smile at this ancient tradition.

History of April Fools’ Day

There is very little known about the origins of this tradition, although it has been celebrated in the UK since at least the 19th century. Some believe that English poet Geoffrey Chaucer makes reference to pranks taking place on the first of April as far back as the 14th century. Others believe the tradition started in the Roman times because of changes in the calendar, either the start of a new year or season, when servants could control masters or children their parents. However, the earliest records we have are from France and Holland in the 1500s when they celebrated April Fish Day, when there is an abundance of fish that are easy to catch, leading people to call them the foolish fish. From here, the tradition spread to practical jokes on a local and even global level.

Famous pranks

One of the most famous and cleverest stunts ever was in 1957. What made is so believable was that it was a report on Panorama hosted by Richard Dimbleby, a serious news journalist on a respected TV channel. It was known as the Swiss spaghetti harvest, about a particularly bountiful crop of spaghetti in Switzerland. It was reported that the ‘spaghetti weavel’ has disappeared leading to an abundance of pasta and firing up viewers’ hope that they could in fact grow their own spaghetti. The BBC showed footage of spaghetti harvesters picking noodles from trees but when people phoned up to ask how to grow their own, they were reportedly told to stick some spaghetti in a tin of chopped tomatoes and hope for the best.

Marketing magic

When Taco Bell ran a newspaper advert in 1996 announcing that it had purchased the Liberty Bell, it proved that April Fools’ Day could be a brilliant way to promote a brand. It was a risky move because it could upset a lot of people but get it right and this was the start of a light-hearted new trend. Today, April Fools’ Day has become one of the marketing industry’s most active campaigns with big brands getting involved with some clever and some annoying pranks. Here are some of our favourites:

  • Heinz launches chocolate mayonnaise.
  • Coca-Cola now comes in charcoal, avocado, and sourdough flavours.
  • Tibits is a gym just for vegans.
  • Rude Health launches mushroom milk.
  • Firebox rebrands as Bore Fix.
  • Poundland announces pet fashion range.
  • Instant Pot Noodle delivery.
  • Barry M’s colour-changing foundation.
  • SodaStream’s SodaSoak lets you carbonate your bathwater.
  • Argos launches fragrances that smells just like the catalogue.
  • McDonald’s adds personalised Big Macs to the menu.

Just kidding

If it’s a testing time for adults, then it is quite a confusing time for children at the moment. Get a bit a laughter back into the home by pulling off the best April Fools’ tricks without leaving your front door. Mess with their heads a little by changing the times on the clocks, offer them a lovely sweet treat such as an Oreo cookie but replace the cream with toothpaste or how about drawing a spider on a toilet roll then roll it back so the spider will appear when they pull it down to use it. For an older family member, replace favourite photos that are dotted around the home with a celebrity to see if they notice but whatever you do, be prepared for them to get their own back on you! 

When jokes go viral

If you think of a really fun idea it might be the next big thing as was the case with Google in 2014 when they produced a Pokemon game in which players could use Google maps to look for and catch characters. The prize was a job at Google as a Pokemon Master and although it was a pretty fun joke, software engineers could see beyond that and created the phenomenon which we now know as Pokemon Go.

Animal welfare

When the National Geographic reports something, then it is without doubt taken seriously. In 2016, the company announced to the world on Twitter that it would no long be publishing photos of naked animals: "The media group says that it will no longer degrade animals by showing photos of them without clothes." Readers who wanted to read at greater length clicked through to the story and were surprised with a gallery of cute puppies and kittens dressed up in adorable outfits with the words: April Fools.

Science geeks

When renowned physicist Patrick Moore appeared on BBC Radio 2 in 1976 and announced that at 9:47am, we would feel what he called the ‘Jovian-Plutonian gravitational effect, it had a worldwide effect. The report stated that in that exact moment, the planets would align and gravity on Earth would get a tiny bit weaker, so if you jumped in the air at exactly the right moment, you would almost float. Unfortunately this was not the case but it didn’t stop plenty of people jumping just in case.

Crazy in love

Many singletons may breathe a sigh of relief but Tinder’s claim that they could verify men by height is unfortunately too good to be true. The dating app said they wanted to stop men claiming they are taller than they. The app requested that all men send a profile photo of themselves against a commercial building so they could use their technology to figure out if the height you’ve selected on your profile is real. The ones telling the truth would get a badge on their profile.

Fashion police

According to Boden, Brexit means that Brits are no longer allowed to wear the famous stripey Breton tops associated with sophisticated French women. The company issued a statement saying that anyone owning a Breton top will now need to apply for a special EU shirt license to wear one.


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