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Thursday 12th December 2013 /
From the spaghetti tree to the pinana fruit, April Fools’ Day has been the inspiration for some of the quirkiest, most imaginative and downright brilliant hoaxes. Here, we share with you our five favourite April Fools’ jokes of all time.
1. Spaghetti grows on trees
Did you know, that besides being famous for clocks, chocolate and banks, Switzerland is also home to the humble spaghetti tree? Don’t worry if you didn’t – you’re not alone. Thousands were also surprised to learn this in a 1957 episode of Panorama.
Apparently, thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the insidious spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop.
And, who would have thought it… the announcement was accompanied by footage of Swiss peasants harvesting strands of spaghetti from trees.
Huge numbers of viewers fell for the hoax, with many calling the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To which the BBC’s tongue in cheek reply was, “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”
2. A typographer’s dream holiday destination
This elaborately crafted hoax published in The Guardian in 1977 is one of the most successful in British newspaper history.
Essentially it consisted of a special seven-page supplement devoted to San Serriffe, a small republic that was said to be in the Indian Ocean.
The two main islands were named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse – and were semicolon-shaped. Its capital was Bodoni, and its leader was General Pica. Through a series of articles, The Guardian’s journalists went into great detail about the geography and culture of this obscure little nation.
The accounts were so detailed and evocative that The Guardian’s phones rang off the hook with readers seeking more info. And travel agents tried in vain to secure flights to this elusive holiday spot.
Only a few people noticed that everything about the island was named after printing / typographic terminology.
3. The left-handed Whopper
What do you do when you’re Burger King and 32 million Americans are left-handed? Create a left-handed Whopper of course! On April 1st 1998 Burger King published a full page ad in USA Today announcing this latest burger addition to their menu.
According to the ad, it would contain the same ingredients as the original but all the condiments would be rotated 180 degrees, supposedly making it more convenient for their left-handed customers to enjoy.
In just one day, thousands of customers had gone into restaurants seeking out the new Whopper. And many others requested their own right-handed version.
4. Whistling carrots
The arrival of the genetically modified whistling carrot in 2002 wasn’t such a bad idea. If only it were true!
Tesco published an ad in The Sun announcing the successful development of this modified vegetable. The ad explained that the carrots had been specially engineered to grow with tapered air holes in their side. When fully cooked, these air holes would cause the vegetable to whistle.
5. Say hello to the pinana
While we’re on the subject of fruit and veg, in 2009 Waitrose announced it was stocking an exotic new fruit: the pinana – a pineapple and banana hybrid.
The ad read: “Fresh in today and exclusive to Waitrose… If you find that all Waitrose pinanas have sold out, don't worry, there's 50% off our essential Waitrose strawberries.”