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On most days, pulling a harmless prank, or two, on family members would result in a time-out. However, on April 1st, aka April Fools' Day, lighthearted tricks are both expected and welcomed. The origins of the tradition are hazy. Some believe the fun began in 1582 when the world transitioned from the Julian calendar — which ushered in the New Year on the last week of March — to the current Gregorian calendar. Those unaware of the change, or refusing to accept the January 1st start date, were often pranked on December 31st. Others maintain the ritual began as a joyful way to welcome spring.
Regardless of how it started, April Fools’ Day is now a worldwide celebration observed by both individuals and corporations, which often go through extraordinary measures to fool the public. Here are a few of our past favorites.
Virgin Atlantic's "green" Dreambird 1417
Every year, Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, and his team conjure up realistic hoaxes that often leave the public fooled for days. One of their best pranks was in 2017, when Branson announced the development of a Dreamliner aircraft powered entirely by wind energy, harnessed using the jet's bird-like, flapping wings!
Audi's autonomous office chair
In 2015, German car manufacturer Audi released an autonomous chair that could not only transport employees around the office but also sense when they needed a bathroom break or were craving a cup of coffee. Even better, its built-in face recognition technology allowed occupants to avoid people they did not wish to meet. The chair also had built-in airbags to protect the "driver" in case of an accident. The only drawback? The engineering marvel was announced on April 1st!
The British Broadcasting Corporation's spaghetti harvest
The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) was the first television company to stage an April 1 prank. In 1957, its popular current affairs show, Panorama, ran a special segment outlining how a mild winter and the eradication of the harmful spaghetti weevil had resulted in a record spaghetti harvest that year. The episode showed women joyfully picking long pasta strands from trees. Fully believing the hoax was true, hundreds of excited viewers called in to learn how to grow a spaghetti tree. They were instructed to "stick a dry piece of the pasta in a can of tomato sauce and keep their fingers crossed."
Burger King introduces "single" fries
In 2016, fast-food giant Burger King's French division "unveiled" a new menu item — a carefully-wrapped single fry that was meant to be savored slowly. Fortunately for lovers of the fried potato treats — and who isn't? — it was an April Fools' prank!
Know of a fun prank? Be sure to share it with us by adding your comments below!