Ten April Fools’ Pranks That Failed Spectacularly

April 1st has come and gone, bringing with it a plethora of jokes, tricks, and hoaxes. In recent years, companies have recognized the power of well-executed pranks as effective PR tools. These pranks often go viral, as many outlets compile lists of the best April Fools’ Day jokes, and social media brings even more attention. However, not all April Fools’ Day pranks are successful. Many are rushed, lazy, unoriginal, or simply terrible ideas that end up backfiring.

10 The End Of The World

In 1940, William Castellini, a press agent for the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, came up with a publicity stunt. Inspired by Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” hoax, Castellini issued a press release announcing the end of the world on April 1. The press release specified that this was not a prank and provided contact details for more information. Local radio station KYW picked up the story and read it on air, leading to a wave of frightened and angry calls from citizens who believed it was true. Castellini lost his job, and KYW blamed the Franklin Institute.

9 The Aliens Invade Jafr

In 2010, the Jordanian town of Jafr fell for a newspaper article claiming that aliens had landed in the desert outside the settlement. The mayor considered evacuating the town due to the fear. It was later revealed to be a prank, and the newspaper apologized for the inconvenience.

8 Eruption Near Boston

In 1980, a news broadcast successfully convinced people that Great Blue Hill near Boston had erupted. This prank caused panic in nearby towns, with people calling local authorities and evacuating their homes. The station fired the producer for violating FCC rules and not exercising good news judgment.

7 Google Drops The Mic

In 2016, Google introduced the Gmail Mic Drop feature for April Fools’ Day. It automatically ended emails with a gif of a mic drop. However, many people accidentally used the feature for important emails, causing complaints and confusion. Google removed the feature a few hours later.

6 Topless Stylist Causes Traffic Jam

In 1980, a barber in Columbus, Ohio, posted a sign outside his barbershop claiming to have a topless stylist. The prank drew a large crowd, causing a traffic jam. Police asked the barber to remove the sign, and the barber’s business doubled for the day.

5 The New Voyage Of The Titanic

In 2001, a radio DJ announced that a replica of the Titanic would be passing by the southeast coast of England. Hundreds of people flocked to Beachy Head, causing a crack in the cliff face. The radio station apologized for the prank, but authorities were not amused.

4 Super Mario Bomb Scare

In 2006, mysterious boxes resembling Super Mario question blocks were scattered around Ravenna, Ohio. The bomb squad was called in to investigate, but the boxes were found to be empty. Teenagers admitted to the prank, claiming they got the idea from an art project website.

3 A Trip Around The World

In 1872, a London-based travel agency announced a round-the-world tour available at 1872 prices. Hundreds of people lined up outside branches of the agency, only to realize it was an April Fools’ joke. The agency apologized, but angry letters continued to pour in.

2 The Mouse In The Egg

In 1900, a young couple played a prank on each other involving a boiled egg. The woman unknowingly cracked open an egg containing a live mouse, causing her to faint and suffer from multiple nervous fits throughout the day.

1 To Honor A Killer

In 1971, a Texas representative proposed a resolution to honor the “Boston Strangler” as an April Fools’ prank. The resolution passed unanimously, but was later withdrawn. The media portrayed it as a statement on blind legislative approval, although the representative intended it as a simple joke.


Written by Radu Alexander

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