By the Numbers: April Fools’ Day

April Fools’ Day

The origin of the tomfoolery and hoaxing that takes place on April 1 – also known as All Fools’ Day – is a mystery.


The year France changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, which shifted the start of the new year to January 1 rather than the Julian calendar’s moveable new-year start in the last week of March through April 1. Some historians suggest it is the origin year of All Fools’ Day because those who forgot the new-year date became the butt of jokes.


The century in which April Fools’ Day spread in Britain. The idea was so popular in Scotland that it became a two-day event. On the first day, people were sent on phony errands to retrieve nonexistent items, and on day two, known as Tailie Day, pranks included pinning tails and “Kick me” signs on unsuspecting folk.


The year a German newspaper reported that thieves had tunneled into the U.S. Treasury and stolen all of the silver and gold stored there. Newspapers around the world picked up the story.


The year the BBC made its famous report that Swiss farmers had a bumper crop on their spaghetti trees, complete with footage of people harvesting noodles.


The year Sports Illustrated introduced its readers to Sidd Finch, a pitcher with a 168-mph fastball.


The year NPR aired a piece announcing that disgraced former president Richard Nixon was going to run for president again.


The year Taco Bell announced it was buying the Liberty Bell and renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell.


The year Alex Boese opened his Museum of Hoaxes, which is open 24/365 in San Diego. It’s only a website, but that does not stop people from asking for the address so they can visit when they’re in San Diego.


The year Burger King advertised a new left-handed Whopper.


The year the Peninsula Pulse’s RePulse carried a story on Camp David buying the Sur la Bie mansion for $8.75 million – raising the money through Fishstock ticket sales and bake sales. The obviously false story prompted a Door County Advocate correspondent to plagiarize the story and promote it as fact in her column.