Friday, April 2, 2010

Whistling carrots, fairies and fools

"April 1. This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four." Mark Twain

I sort of like April Fools Day. It brings out the kid in us and there’s that special element of surprise.

I’m not one to play practical jokes. It scares me too much to think someone could die of a heart attack or keel over from a stroke. And I don’t like it when the joke is on me; maybe that's why people tell me I'm too serious.

However, I don’t mind it when people pull pranks on others. The length they will go to spring jokes on unsuspecting friends, office workers and even family members intrigues me. I’m amazed how gullible people can be.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the "Top 10 Best April Fools Jokes" of all time on

Take for example Tesco's whistling carrots. On April 1, 2002, Tesco ran a fake newspaper ad announcing a whistling carrot had been genetically modified with air holes that caused the carrot to whistle when it was cooked. Can you believe it? Well, apparently a whole lot of people did.

George Orwell once said, "The aim of a joke is not to degrade the human being, but to remind him that he is already degraded."

That reminds me of a prank played by Lebanon Circle Magik, a company that specializes in sculptures. In 2007, the company posted on its website a picture of a mummified fairy. According to the story, someone found a fairy in Derbyshire, England, or so the story went, and people continued to think the fairy was real even after the hoax was revealed. Go figure.

"If every fool wore a crown, we should all be kings." Welsh Proverb

A whole lot of people were wearing crowns back in '96, when Taco Bell pulled a wild hair prank. On April 1 of that year, Taco Bell announced it was renaming the Liberty Bell the Taco Liberty Bell. No one in their right mind would believe such a thing, but millions did and protestors clogged the phone lines at Philadelphia’s National Historic Park, where the bell is located.

"Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." Chinese Proverb

Dick Smith had fun fooling Australians for quite awhile back in '78. Smith supposedly contracted a barge to tow an iceberg from Antarctica to Sydney Harbor. He said he'd cut the iceberg into icecubes and sell them for 10 cents each. The public was gung-ho over the "iceberg" until rain washed off the shaving cream and fire retardant, revealing that the "iceberg" was plastic. Some iceberg that was.

Clifton Paul Fadiman once said, "A sense of humor is the ability to understand a joke and that the joke is oneself."

My favorite April Fools joke happened in 1962, when Sweden’s only TV channel broadcast that viewers could make their black-and-white TVs display full color by pulling nylon stockings over them. Thousands of people actually tried it. I really cannot picture people stretching nylons over their picture tubes. Well, on second thought, maybe I can.

2010 © Copyright Paula Damon. A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Damon is a national and state award-winning columnist. Her columns have won first-place in National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women Communications Contests. In the 2009 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took three first-place awards. To contact Paula, email, follow her blog at and find her on Facebook.


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