April Fool’s Day presents a rare opportunity once a year where people play, mostly harmless, pranks or jokes on one another. April Fool’s Day otherwise known as All Fool’s Day has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures yet its exact origins remain a mystery to this day. Some historians have speculated that April Fool’s Day began when France switched the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, when Hilaria was celebrated in Rome at the end of March in which people dressed in disguises, and in Scotland’s two-day event where people were sent on phony errands and had “kick me signs” attached to their back.
Nowadays people and even well-known companies have taken April Fool’s Day to extraordinary levels. Pranks and jokes going so far as to costing companies and government agencies sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. Check out some of the most expensive April’s Fool’s tomfooleries I found.
A Flying Saucer: Virgin Airlines business owner Richard Branson designed a hot air balloon shaped like a UFO and created a prop alien that looked as if it was operating the flying apparatus. Branson’s prank caused widespread traffic jams as everyone halted to have a view, and the police and even the army was alerted to the event.
The Bell: In 1996 Taco Bell created an elaborate advertisement and published it in newspapers all around the country to showcase that they had purchased the Liberty Bell! It ended up costing Taco Bell $300,000 in marketing dollars but in return they got free publicity which was estimated at $25 million! Today this prank still stands as one of the best hoaxes ever done.
The Printer’s Cut: The Boston Morning Globe slashed its price in half in 1915. The staff and readers were just as surprised to find their morning papers prices were literally cut in half. Over 60,000 copies were sold at half price costing the company thousands of dollars. In the end, the story is told that a productions worker changed the value on the paper immediately before it went to print. Not a single person caught the error before the newspapers were flying off the stands.
Titanic II: A spoof story came out on the construction and the project to build a replica of the Titanic. A month after the story was printed, Clive Palmer, one of the world’s wealthiest men announced plans to build an actual replica of the Titanic which is now set to sail on the Titanic’s 100-year anniversary in 2018.
There’s no doubt that these pranks were over the top, took a lot of planning and in the end cost a lot of money one way or another. But in all fun, they caused an attraction, brought a smile to people’s faces and made it into the books of some of the best and most expensive hoaxes of April Fool’s Day.
Have fun today and if you pull off a funny prank, I’d love to hear your stories!