12 Famous April Fool’s Day Pranks of All Time

by Unbelievable Facts7 years ago
Picture 12 Famous April Fool’s Day Pranks of All Time

April Fool’s Day is just around the corner, and as usual, everyone is busy inventing new pranks and spoofs. Each year on April Fool’s Day, we renew our promise not to fall prey to someone else’s prank. Yet, we never question the ingenuity of the human mind, as each year brings a prank better than the last, leaving us all in splits. The earliest known record of an April Fool’s Day prank dates back to April 1, 1698, when people were sent to see lions being washed! To inspire ideas for your next prank, we have compiled 12 of the most famous April Fool’s Day pranks of all time.

12 1978 Dick Smith fakes iceberg in Sydney Harbour, just foam.

Dick Smith fakes iceberg
Fake Iceberg in Sydney, 1978. Image credit: Museum of Hoaxes/Lost Sydney

In 1978, Dick Smith claimed he’d towed an iceberg into Sydney Harbour to provide fresh water, dubbing it a practical solution for the city’s needs. The spectacle turned out to be a clever April Fool’s prank, with the “iceberg” actually made of foam and shaving cream covering a barge. The stunt attracted wide attention until rain revealed the truth, but it remains a memorable prank for its creativity and the brief excitement it sparked among Sydney’s residents​. (source)

11 On April 1, 1962, SVT aired a hoax teaching Swedes to make TVs show color with a nylon stocking.

In 1962, SVT, Sweden’s only TV channel at the time, aired a segment where “technical expert” Kjell Stensson explained viewers could convert their black-and-white sets to display color by covering their TV screens with a nylon stocking. The highly technical explanation convinced thousands to try the method, hoping to see color TV, which didn’t actually work. This famous prank is remembered fondly in Sweden, highlighting how TV’s credibility could make even the most unlikely tales seem possible​.


10 When the local residents of Sitka, Alaska woke up on  April 1, 1974, they found their nearby dormant volcano, Mount Edgecumbe, billowing out black smoke. Later, a Coast Guard pilot went over the crater to investigate. Then, he found 70 tires burning and the words “APRIL FOOL” spray painted into the snow.

April fool prank porky
Image Source: hoaxes.org

April 1, 1974, was a bright, clear morning in Sitka, Alaska. But the residents of the town woke up with a huge shock when they saw smoke coming out off a dormant volcano. Mount Edgecumbe, a volcano which had been dormant for about 400 years, looked like it was preparing to blow.

Concerned residents called the local authorities, and soon, a chopper was sent out to investigate. When the Coast Guard pilot approached the mountain, he peered down into the crater. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he looked closely. Stacked in the cone of the volcano, burning with a greasy flame, was a huge pile of old tires. Also, spray-painted in the snow beside the tires, in 50-foot-high black letters, were the words “APRIL FOOL.”

The fake eruption prank was staged by a 50-year-old local prankster Oliver “Porky” Bickar. Before staging the prank, he had notified the FAA and local police. But he forgot to notify the Coast Guard due to which the truth came out soon enough. Nevertheless, the prank succeeded beyond Porky’s wildest dreams and ran in papers around the world. (source)


9 On April Fool’s Day, 1976, the BBC announced that a special alignment of the planets would temporarily decrease gravity on Earth. Their broadcast was so convincing that their phone lines were flooded with callers who claimed they felt the effects.

Gravitation prank
Image Source: xdind.com

In 1976, BBC Radio 2 broadcasted a hoax that the gravity of Earth would decrease for a short time on 1 April. The prank was invented by the English astronomer Patrick Moore. He stated that due to the astronomical event i.e. conjugation of Jupiter and Pluto at 9:47 am, people will be able to feel the reduction in gravity on the Earth for a brief time. Also, he explained that the powerful combination of the gravitation of the two planets will cause this effect. He managed to convince the listeners that if they would jump into the air at that exact moment, they would feel a floating sensation.

The prank turned out to be a huge success. Soon after 9:47 am, BBC received hundreds of calls from people claiming that they felt the effect of decreased gravity. One woman who called even stated that she and eleven of her friends were sitting and had been “wafted from their chairs and orbited gently around the room”.(source)


8 For April Fool’s Day in 1998, Burger King introduced a Whopper designed especially for lefties on a full-page ad in USA Today. According to the ad, the new burger would contain the same ingredients as the original but rotated 180°. Thousands of customers swarmed into their restaurants requesting the “lefty” Whopper.

Burger king left handed whopper
Image sources: astromarketing.ca, www.themarketingblog.co.uk

In 1998, a day before April Fool’s day, Burger King announced the launch of a new burger designed specially for lefties. This special burger was named “the left-handed Whopper”, which was made available from April 1. The ad mentioned that the hamburger would still consist of lettuce, onions, pickles, mayonnaise, ketchup, and four-ounce flame-grilled hamburger patty. But the sandwich had been redesigned to fit more comfortably in the left hand.

Burger King announced that the new burger is redesigned by rotating the condiments 180 degrees. So, the weight of the sandwich is redistributed, and the bulk of them skew to the left. This arrangement will cause ‘spills’ for the left-handed burger lovers. The next day i.e. on 1st April, thousands of customers ordered the left-handed whopper without even realizing that a burger is circular in shape, and a 180-degree rotation would not change a single thing.(1,2)


7 On April Fool’s Day in 1989, billionaire Richard Branson designed a UFO-shaped hot air balloon and hired a dwarf in an E.T. costume. Thus, the dwarf would come out and scare whoever was near it when it landed.

Richard Branson UFO prank
Image source: www.virgin.com

Branson, a billionaire entrepreneur and founder of the Virgin Group, is well-known for his elaborate pranks and publicity stunts. But his 1989 stunt with a UFO-shaped hot air balloon is the most talked and known April Fool’s prank. To pull off this prank, he got a custom made hot air balloon in the shape of a UFO with strobe lights over it.

Then, in the early morning of April 1 at 4 am, Richard Branson took off in the hot air balloon. The UFO-shaped balloon looked just like an actual UFO. Moreover, it had strategically placed strobe lights which blinked every 10 seconds. As the sun began to rise, the UFO was seen over London’s M25 highway. Morning commuters were stunned, cars pulled over, police forces mobilized, and the army was alerted. Branson had planned to land in Hyde Park, but due to the poor weather conditions, he was forced to land in Surrey Field.

Branson had another trick up his sleeve, which he revealed after landing the hot air balloon. After landing, the UFO door opened, and dry ice billowed out and a dwarf wearing an ET costume emerged down the platform. By this time, the Surrey Field was surrounded by a police force. When Branson revealed his prank the officers were unamused and initially threatened to arrest him. However, later, they decided against any formal action. (source)

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