By Laura Rahill
If you are the office prankster, then it’s almost time to bring out the best you have to offer, as Tuesday is April 1, commonly known as April Fool’s Day or All Fools Day.
But the office prankster is not the only one you need watch out for, since it is not uncommon for the media to get involved in the fun in an attempt to pull the wool over the world’s eyes.
So where did this silly day originate? Although there are many theories in existence for the day’s origin, probably the most cited is that in the 1800s France changed its calendar so the new year would begin in January to coincide with the Roman calendar. Before that the original new year began at the start of spring in late March or early April.
In that time, word often traveled slowly and many people living in rural parts of the countryside continued to celebrate the new year in springtime. These country folk were so-called “April fools.”
Other versions dismiss this theory, suggesting that this day is simply a result of European spring festivals, which celebrated renewal. In these festivals, camouflaging one’s identity and pranks were commonplace.
Famously, to name but a few of my favorite renowned April Fool’s pranks, in 2008 Burger King released an advertisement promoting its new “Left-Handed Whopper” burger designed for left-handed people. Full-page ads and press releases announced the burger’s arrival, which reportedly many people requested.
In 1995, writer George Plimpton wrote an exposé in Sports Illustrated about a man named Sidd Flinch, who was said to be a hidden New York Mets prospect who had a fastball recorded at 168 miles per hour. It was a whole week before Sports Illustrated realized it had been the victim of an April Fool’s joke.
Just last year the ever-popular social media platform Twitter announced it would begin charging users for the usage of vowels while consonants and the letter “Y” would remain free.
Also last year, Google, whose track record of April Fool’s Day pranks has been unrivaled, presented “Google Nose,” which was said to provide smells for whatever you type into the search bar. Users simply had to bring their nose as close to the screen as possible and press enter.
Well played, Google. Imagine how amusing that was in some offices.
These media hoaxes are only a snippet of the best, but of course on this day no one can be trusted.
I fondly remember even my teachers liked to get involved in the fun, sending unsuspecting students into other classes to ask the teacher to borrow striped paint or rubber nails.
If anything, these past hoaxes and experiences on previous April Fool’s serve as a reminder to be particularly aware of curious stories in the media, or in my case, be even more suspicious of TimesLedger office pranksters. (I have a few in mind!)