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Why are we Fools in April?

The short answer to the question posted above? No one knows for sure.

April Fool’s Day has been around for hundreds of years, and you would think after all this time we as a society would know better than to bite. Yet year after year we fall for some stupid prank. Of course, it’s only stupid when it gets us but that’s the way of the world, isn’t it?

Some of the greatest pranks have to be the ones that get the largest number of people with the most asinine premise. Two of my personal favorites stem from the fast food wars. In 1996, Taco Bell issued a press release stating that it had purchased the Liberty Bell in order to help repay the national debt. Taco Bell’s PR department even took out advertising in six of the largest newspapers in the country to announce the new “Taco Liberty Bell.” A public outcry ensued and Taco Bell released another announcement, this one with a big “April Fools!”

Two years later, Burger King in the United Kingdom got in on the act, proclaiming it had come out with a left-handed Whopper, designed to work better and be less messy for southpaws. People actually turned out to order these at their local restaurant. Unbelievable.

More recently, there was Google Nose. Yep, this was as fishy as it smells. Google claimed that it had come out with a new search engine for smells, even offering “15M+ scentibytes.” There were hundreds of thousands of searches for this feature, I’m sure.

The Museum of Hoaxes (yes, I promise this is not a joke) has them all beat. In ranking the top 100 greatest April Fool’s Day hoaxes of all time it lists The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest as No. 1. According to museumofhoaxes.com, on April 1, 1957, a BBC news show told all of England and the U.K. that thanks to a mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, “Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop.” To prop up its news report the show’s producers aired footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti out of trees. The news show’s respected anchor discussed the “spaghetti crop” as a Swiss family pulled pasta off of branches and put it into baskets.

The lesson here? The Brits are just as gullible as Americans. Apparently, hundreds of people phoned the station wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best,” came the station’s response. I wonder how many actually did just that.

As for me, I’m no great prankster, but I did convince a certain blonde as we were discussing Hereford cows that there was a farm just east of here that raised Hereford cheetahs. What, you don’t know about the famous East Texas Hereford Cheetahs?

Rodney Williams is the managing editor for The Anna-Melissa Tribune and the Van Alstyne Leader. He can be contacted at news@amtrib.com or rwilliams@vanalstyneleader.com.