The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year. - Mark Twain
April Fool's Day or All Fools' Day is a notable day, though not of its own right a holiday, celebrated in many countries on April 1. The day is celebrated by the execution of hoaxes and practical jokes of varying sophistication with the goal of publicly embarrassing the gullible. Traditionally, pranks are supposed to end by noon. Those done afterwards are supposed to bring bad luck to the perpetrator. However, this is not universally adhered to, and many of the hoaxes listed below appeared after noon.
The custom of playing practical jokes on April Fool's Day is also very widespread and of uncertain origins. The victim of a joke is known in English as an April Fool; in Scots as a gowk (cuckoo or fool); and in French as a poisson d'avril (April fish). It has been suggested the custom may have had something to do with the move of the New Year's date, when people who forgot or didn't accept the new date system were given invitations to nonexistent parties, funny gifts, etc. Originally, April Fool's Day jokes concentrated on individuals (sending someone on an absurd errand such as seeking pigeon's milk) but in the 20th century it became common for the media to perpetrate hoaxes on the general population.
Many media organisations have either unwittingly or deliberately propagated hoaxes on April Fools' Day. Even normally serious news media consider April Fools' Day hoaxes fair game, and spotting them has become an annual pastime. The advent of the Internet as a worldwide communications medium has also assisted the pranksters in their work.
Smell-o-vision: The BBC purported to conduct a trial of a new technology allowing the transmission of odour over the airwaves to all viewers. Despite the fact that no such capability existed, many viewers reportedly contacted the BBC to report the trial's success.
Spaghetti trees: The BBC television program Panorama ran a famous hoax in 1957, showing the Swissharvestingspaghetti from trees. A lot of people wanted spaghetti trees of their own.
Tower of Pisa: The Dutchtelevision news once reported that the famous Tower of Pisa had fallen over. Many shocked and even mourning people contacted the television studio.
Television licence: In another year the Dutch television news reported that the government had introduced a new way to detect hidden televisions (at the time households had to pay for a television licence) by simply driving through the streets with a new detector, and that the only way to keep your television from being detected was to wrap it in aluminum foil. Within a few hours all aluminum foil was sold out throughout the country.
Sidd Finch: George Plimpton wrote an article in Sports Illustrated about a New York Mets prospect who could throw a fastball at 176 mph. This kid was known as "Barefoot" Sidd Finch. He reportedly learned to throw a ball that fast in a Buddhist monastery, and also threw a javelin a quarter of a mile at the British Olympic tryouts. Plimpton said the boy refused to go to the Olympics for fear of hurting someone. Barefoot Sidd was later the subject of a moderately successful book.
Radio Station "Power 106": A Los Angelesradio station "announced" a change from pop to disco music at 7:00 AM, April 1, (1993?). After 12 hours they admitted it was a joke, and switched back to their standard playlist. Within minutes complaints rolled in of "where's the disco?", and the station actually changed formats the next day (and kept disco for a year or two).