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The Best April Fool’s Day Pranks from Around the World

Are you a natural born prankster? Take inspiration from these April Fool's Day pranks, which made our countdown of the funniest in the world.

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April Fool's Day gold fishPhoto: Shutterstock

The origins of April Fool’s Day

Although not all April Fool’s experts agree (yes, they exist), some argue the day originated in 16th-century France, when Pope Gregory XIII mandated that the new year begin on January 1 instead of the end of March. Those who failed to follow the new calendar were dubbed “April fish.” Others claim it originated from ancient spring festivals that included mischief making.

Discover the fascinating origins of classic jokes.

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Spaghetti pastaPhoto: Shutterstock

A spaghetti harvest causes a stir…

When it comes to fooling around, Great Britain is a world leader. Indeed, many believe a BBC TV hoax, broadcast over half a century ago still ranks as the best-ever April Fool’s joke. In 1957 the news show Panorama reported that, thanks to a mild winter, Swiss farmers enjoyed a bumper spaghetti crop. To prove this, it broadcast a three-minute report of Swiss farmers carefully plucking, or “harvesting,” strands of spaghetti from trees. Legions of viewers were duped and many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their very own spaghetti tree. The BBC advised each caller: “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”

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The Queen's Guard on duty at Buckingham PalacePhoto: Zsolt Biczo/Shutterstock

The best pranks around the world

France: According to Le Parisien, in 1986, the Eiffel Tower was going to be dismantled and rebuilt inside the new Euro Disney park.

Denmark: In 1965, a Copenhagen newspaper reported that Parliament had passed a law that all dogs be painted white to improve road safety because they could then be seen clearly at night.

Norway: In 1987, after reading that the government was planning to distribute 10,000 litres of wine confiscated from smugglers, hundreds of citizens turned up carrying empty bottles and buckets.

China: Claiming that it would reduce the need for foreign experts, the China Youth Daily joked in 1993 that the government had decided to exempt PhDs from the nation’s one-child-per-family policy. After foreign press picked up the hoax, the government condemned April Fools’ Day as a Western tradition.

Great Britain: In 1980, those serial pranksters at the BBC announced that Big Ben, London’s historic clock tower, would undergo a face-lift and become digital to keep up with the times. Enraged callers flooded the station with complaints.

Canada: In 2008, WestJet airlines advertised its overhead cabin bins as “among the most spacious of any airline” and said it would charge passengers an extra $12 to use these “sleeper cabins.”

Taiwan: In 2009, the Taipei Times claimed that “Taiwan-China relations were dealt a severe setback yesterday when it was found that the Taipei Zoo’s pandas are not what they seem.” The paper reported that the pandas, a gift from the Chinese government, were brown forest bears dyed to resemble pandas. Among the complaints sent to the paper was one from the zoo’s director.

Germany: In 2009, BMW ran an ad promoting its new “magnetic tow technology.” The invention enabled drivers to turn off their engine and get a “free ride” by locking onto the car ahead via a magnetic beam.

Were you bored silly in history class? Check out the history of the world in dumb jokes.

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PhotocopierPhoto: Shutterstock

Try pulling these pranks at work!

  • Make a dozen photocopies of a paper clip and put them in the copier’s paper tray so future copies will include a paper clip. Your colleagues will go crazy looking for the “lost” clip in the copier.
  • On a friend’s computer, open Microsoft Word, click on Tools, and choose AutoCorrect Options. Type in a common word like then and replace it with something odd like “hyper giraffe.” Every time someone types then in Word, it will be replaced with hyper giraffe. (From

Jokers, beware: In one survey, 68 per cent of the executives questioned said pranks were unsuitable at work.

Use these funny jokes to defuse awkward work situations.

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BMW insigniaPhoto: Yuri Kabantsev/Shutterstock

Corporate April Fool’s Day capers

Reasoning that a well-executed prank can result in valuable publicity, firms such as Google, Microsoft, BMW, Guinness, and Virgin regularly try to get in on the fun.

In 1996, fast-food chain Taco Bell announced it had purchased the famed U.S. Liberty Bell, which it claimed it was renaming the “Taco Liberty Bell” and relocating from Philadelphia to its headquarters in California. The company claimed publicity from the hoax increased sales by $1 million over a 24-hour period.

Google is another chronic hoaxer. It once insisted that it was launching a broadband service using cables that would run through the sewer system. In fact, its reputation for pranking was such that when the company launched its Gmail service on April 1, 2004, few believed them.

On April 1, 2009, YouTube turned some of its videos upside down. A page on “Tips for Viewing the New Layout” suggested users hang their monitors upside down from the ceiling.

Test your history chops with these hilarious history jokes.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest