Peta’s fish pills, 2001
When, in 2001, a competitive fishing competition was scheduled for 1 April on Lake Palestine in Texas, animal rights group Peta decided to have some fun. The organization promised to disrupt the event by dissolving sleeping pills into the 40bn-gallon lake, thus knocking out all the fish for the day and sparing them the anglers’ hooks… Local newspapers took the threat seriously (complaining of “borderline terroristic methods”) and Texan officials followed suit. Park rangers were soon in position around the lake to intercept any Peta members carrying armfuls of tranquilizer tablets.
Alaska’s volcano, 1974
In Sitka, Alaska, the volcano Mount Edgecumbe had been dormant for around 9,000 years when, one morning in 1974, residents noticed dark smoke spooling from its top. Round up the children! Call the authorities! When a coastguard helicopter flew in to investigate, the pilot saw that 100 tyres had been doused in cooking fuel and set alight in the volcano’s crater. Meanwhile, around the rim, someone had spraypainted “April Fool” in 50ft letters. It was the careful work of a local joker, Oliver Bickar, who’d been planning the prank for four years.
Edison’s food creator, 1878
American newspaper The Daily Graphic published, in 1878, news of a technological breakthrough: Thomas Edison had invented “the Food Creator… a machine that will feed the human race!”. How, exactly, was unclear, but it would be able to manufacture meat, vegetables, wine and biscuits using only air, water and “common earth”. A final paragraph in the April article revealed that “the Food Creator” did not in fact exist; but not every reader got that far, and Thomas Edison received “a flood of letters from all parts of the country”, as he wrote to tell the Graphic’s editor. “Very ingenious,” he said.
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