April Fool's Day food pranks

 spaghetti harvest

Did you fall for an April Fools' Day prank today? Social media was full of fake stories, including Google Israel launching a "Hummus API", Burger King's ad for a Chocolate Whopper, Siggi's debuting a fermented shark yogurt, and Heinz hawking chocolate mayo in the UK. You can see a huge listing of April Fool's pranks at The Washington Post.

Digging deeper into history, Food and Wine Magazine produced a list of the top seven April Fools' Day pranks that are food-related. Pulling people's legs on the 1st of April dates back for centuries, so it's not surprising that the first prank listed in the article dates back to the late 1800s. The gag involved a story that Thomas Edison had created a machine that could turn dirt into bread, which spelled an end to world hunger. Since Edison had recently invented the phonograph was close to releasing the incandescent light bulb, people were inclined to buy this story, including several newspapers that printed it.

We then fast forward a few decades and skip across the pond to England, where in 1958 the BBC ran a story on a "successful spaghetti harvest" in Switzerland. This was a very elaborate hoax, as the show's 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."

You might think that in the information age, no one would fall for such an absurd prank. But as recently as 2005 some people fell for a story on NPR that claimed that maple trees weren't being tapped due to low consumer demand for carbs, and the trees were therefore "exploding all over Vermont sending gushers of sap everywhere." Apparently many of the show's listeners didn't get the joke, as evidenced by the commentary on the online article.

What's your favorite food-related April Fools' Day prank?

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