01 April 2011

Pinch, punch and prank

UNTIL midday today I am not going to believe anything I read, hear or see. I'm gullible at the best of times so I figure it's better to be safe than sorry on April Fool's Day.

Unless you live under a rock you would know April Fool's Day is a widely recognised and celebrated day of practical jokes and general foolishness. The earliest recorded association between April 1 and foolishness was in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, published in 1392.

Australia is amongst the countries who only celebrate April Fool's Day until midday rather than the entire day. The idea is if you fall for a practical joke or are subject to foolishness before midday, you are the April Fool. However, in Australia, if you play a joke after 12pm then you are the fool, regardless of whether the unsuspecting prey fell for your joke or not.

A quick Google search highlights the wonder that is April Fool's Day and how the biggest, most memorable pranks have come from some of the biggest corporations in the world.

Who could forget Burger King's "Left Handed Whopper" stunt in 1998 (which resulted in people ordering both left and right hand varieties of the burger for some time after the prank was revealed)?

Remember Dick Smith's iceberg stunt in 1983? For those unaware Dick Smith claimed he had towed an iceberg back from Antarctica into Sydney Harbour.

Dick Smith and his "iceberg" 1983

Arguably the crème de la crème of April Fool's pranks are from the BBC, most notably the Swiss Spaghetti Crop stunt of 1957 and the Flying Penguins prank from 2008. An update for the confused and gullible - spaghetti does not grow on trees and no penguins can fly (but the BBC videos are pretty convincing). 

So today it's not just pinching and punching you need to be wary of until midday. Someone could be trying to make an April Fool out of you.

1957 Spaghetti crop prank: BBC

2008 Flying Penguins prank: BBC

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