Don’t get fooled!
A friend in the Wisconsin Writers Association sent out an alert Sunday reminding his fellow scribes that today is April Fools’ Day. Have you been tricked yet today? Are you the sort who likes to pull harmless pranks? What sort of tricks?
I’ve pulled a few April Fools’ pranks in my day. When I was in Oconomowoc, our weekly publication fell on April 1 one year, and we wove some farfetched story and, despite the disclaimer at the end, had half our readership believing it was true. I’ve heard of radio broadcasters pulling April Fools’ pranks that backfired and cost some of them their jobs.
An online satirical "publication" is pulling one on Congressman Paul Ryan today, falsely "reporting" that his political views got him kicked out of St. John Vianney Catholic Church here in Janesville during Easter services.
You won’t find any such fake stories in today’s Gazette.
The story sent to me by my writer friend was by Mike Krumboltz of Yahoo! News. It explains that, according to Snopes.com, most experts believe April Fools’ Day started with creation of the Gregorian calendar in the 1500s by Pope Gregory XIII. “In 1562, the new calendar moved the first day of the year from April 1 to Jan. 1, a rather big change for the masses to adjust to," Krumboltz wrote.
“These being the days before text messages and tweets, it took a little while for the news to make its way around. In the interim, folks who hadn’t yet heard that April 1 was no longer the start of the year were called ‘April fools’ by those who already knew.”
Krumboltz writes that some pranks are as simple as the old trick of asking somebody if their refrigerator is running (Then you’d better go catch it!). He cites a 1957 incident in which the BBC told viewers that Swiss farmers were growing spaghetti. Supposedly hundreds of viewers called asking how they could acquire their own noodle-growing bush. Also, in 1998, Burger King announced plans for a Whopper specifically for left-handed people. Many customers asked for the south-paw special.
I read the pranks reported by readers commenting to Krumboltz’s story. One wrote of how he was hospitalized several days and had to give a daily urine sample. One day he poured his apple juice in the cup, and when the nurse suggested it looked a little dark, he said he’d run it through again and gulped it down. The look on her face made him laugh and almost gag on his own prank.
Another told of students releasing three pigs, with the numbers 1, 2 and 4 on their backs. School officials spent most of the day looking for No. 3.
Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or follow him on Twitter or