We have less than 24 hours until April Fools' Day begins, at which point you will not be able to trust a single thing you see on the Internet for an entire day (which is nominally different than a regular day). While much attention is now given to absurd viral news, pranking on April 1 is a tradtion that goes back centuries, sometimes on a massive scale, and many of the best have revolved food. To get ready for a Facebook feed full of ridiculous, imaginary things to eat and drink, here are some of the best food pranks in history.
Edison’s Food Machine (1878)
Having already invented the phonograph and on the cusp of releasing the incandescent light bulb, Thomas Edison seemed like he could make anything back in 1878. So when the New York Graphic claimed Edison had created a machine that could turn dirt into bread, thus ending world hunger, a lot of people believed it. Papers around the country reprinted the story, excited to see the machine in action.
The Great Norwegian Wine Sale (1950)
With wine in short supply after WWII, Norway’s biggest newspaper printed a story claiming that a huge delivery had shown up at the government-run wine stores. The only problem was that it didn’t come in bottles. Thirsty oenophiles would have to bring their own containers, but they would be able to buy wine for 75 percent less than normal. Massive lines formed outside the stores with people carrying huge, empty buckets.
Swiss Spaghetti Harvest (1957)
Even a respectable organization like the BBC is not above pulling pranks. The Panorama news hour ran a story on a successful spaghetti harvest that year in Switzerland. Producers went so far as to go to Switzerland and create spaghetti plants in order to film them. On April 1, the BBC switchboard filled up with calls of people asking how they could grow their own spaghetti.
Left-Handed Food (1996, 1998, 2010)
For some reason, this one keeps fooling consumers. First in ’96, Mars claimed to sell left-handed candy bars, designed for easy opening by left-handed people. Then in ’98, Burger King advertised a left-handed whopper, which had ingredients redistributed so someone holding it with their left hand wouldn’t spill. Then again in 2010, British bakery Sayers showed off their own left-handed sandwich that was supposedly easier for lefties to hold. Each time, the prank brought people into stores looking for left-handed food with thousands showing up to Burger Kings in 1998.
Exploding Maple Trees (2005)
NPR’s Robert Siegel put out a report claiming that untapped maple trees, going under utilized for syrup thanks to low-carb diets, were exploding all over Vermont sending gushers of sap everywhere. Plenty Morning Edition listeners didn’t get the joke and it sparked much discussion online.
Organic Air (2009)
Whole Foods has tried a few different April Fools' Day pranks, but the most believable one came in 2009 when they advertised .02 ounce bottles of organic air, which they would sell for $6.99 each. A bargain at the time when you consider that actual oxygen bars sold people real air for three times that much.
Sizzling Bacon (2014)
The best pranks are the ones you can actually interact with. In 2014, Netflix released 20 minutes of bacon just cooking in a pan. For anyone who really wanted to commit they also had a 73-minute video of rotisserie chicken.