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A Fool's Errand

Friday, March 27, 2015

If you’re not above pulling pranks on your friends on April Fool’s Day, the 48Hrs Team has the perfect set of ideas for you. Read on as we suggest some fun pranks and also explain the history of this day

Do you remember April 1 back in your childhood days? It was probably the day when you were the most suspicious of anything and everything. From a roadside stranger asking you to look at a supposed commotion to your friends making you believe in the strangest of theories, nothing was off limits on April Fool’s Day. You may think that you’ve outgrown the silliness of this day, but we think that you can never be too old for some good-hearted fun and a few childish pranks! If you don’t already know, even multinational companies have pulled some silly pranks over the years and some have even gotten in trouble for their acts. So, if you’re in the mood for some harmless fun, we’ve got a list of great pranks for you. We also tell you about the most absurd April Fool’s Day stunts that have ever been pulled as well as explain the history of this day. Let’s start off with the pranks.

The Oreo Toothpaste Prank
Oreo cookies are too precious to waste (don’t we know it!), but we assure you that this prank is worth it. You’ll need a tube of white toothpaste and a pack of Oreo cookies. Take out the first few cookies from the packet — you can take as many as you want. Open each cookie and scrape out the cream filling from the centre. Now, squeeze a blob of white toothpaste in the middle of the cookie and use a butter knife to spread the toothpaste evenly. Make sure that you spread it out neatly so that your target doesn’t get suspicious. Now join the two halves back into a cookie sandwich and place them inside the packet, as neatly as you can. Offer some to your friends with a straight face and watch as the fun unravels.

A Human Chair
If you’re wondering what you could possibly do with a chair on April Fool’s Day, you’re going to be amazed by this prank. All you need to do is sit back and relax! Sounds fairly easy, doesn’t it? However, it does require a little effort, as you need to create a costume that looks just like chair cushions and then hide inside it. The result is going to be some scared and definitely shocked faces! You may even win a best prank award (if there is one). Caution: Don’t try this if you aren’t willing to work hard enough to create the perfect costume!

The Shower Prank
Do you know what’s the best time to play a prank and actually get a good reaction? It’s in the morning, when people are usually in a hurry to reach somewhere. Unscrew the nozzle of the showerhead in your bathroom and place a few sugar cubes or cubes of chicken stock in the cavity. Screw it back on and wait for the reaction of your angry victim who has been drenched in the sticky solution! But, be prepared for payback!

The Chewbacca Roar
How many of your friends would love to hear a Chewbacca roar at least 20 times a day? None, we’re sure! But, this is definitely among our favourite pranks and can really annoy your targets or scare the living daylights out of them! Avoid playing it on your family members though, they may kick you out of the house in retaliation! You will need the help of a few friends for this prank — ask everyone to call up one of your friends and a leave a voice message (several instant messaging applications allow you to leave voice messages) with their best imitation of Chewbacca roar.  

Cardboard Lookalikes
Most office environments can be pretty dull. Of course, if your job is to dress up as a clown every day, we take our words back. But, if you have a boring desk job, you can make your colleagues’ lives (and your own) interesting by playing this ultimate office prank. It’s really simple. Okay, April Fool! — it’s not simple at all and will require a lot of effort. You will need to replace everything that belongs to your colleague — monitors, bulletins and even their water bottles — with cardboard models. There’s no need to paint them; the idea is to have your colleague see that everything on their desk is suddenly nothing but cardboard. Imagine their reaction! But, make sure your boss is lenient and that your co-workers are fun-loving and friendly before you even think of pulling this off! If you aren’t willing to spend so much time on this prank, simply take a screenshot of your co-workers desktop screen, save it as a JPEG file and make it their desktop background. Delete all their desktop icons and watch as your colleague unsuccessfully tries to navigate a screen where nothing seems to be working!  

The Sprite And Soy Sauce Prank
This prank is perfect for our city’s  hot and humid weather. Empty a bottle of cola and pour in a clear soda beverage such as Sprite. Make sure that you don’t fill it to the top. You’ll need to leave enough room for the soy sauce. Add the soy sauce in and carefully mix the two liquids until you get a dark shade that is similar to that of a cola beverage. You can stash the bottle in your refrigerator and wait for someone to drink it or simply offer it to someone looking for a refreshment. However, make sure that you aren’t standing in the way when they spit out this ghastly concoction!

Mayo Doughnuts
Only a person with an absolute disregard for food will play this prank! But, it’s a great prank, as it will attract the ire of your victim for months, maybe even years to come. Pick up some plain doughnuts and fill them with mayonnaise. Then offer them to your friends. However, if your friend has a quirky palette, they may enjoy the strange mixture and the joke will then be on you!

Mashed Potato And Gravy Sundae
Okay, we’re not suggesting that you make an ice-cream treat with mashed potatoes and gravy, but this prank is sure to send anyone with a sweet tooth into a tizzy. Scoop some creamy mashed potatoes into a tall glass. Ensure that you get the smooth, creamy consistency of ice-cream. Pour in a few spoons of thick gravy and place a red cherry on top along with a chocolate wafer to make it look like an actual ice-cream sundae. But, beware, if you play this on a child, you will have to face the wrath of an angry tot later!

April Fool’s Day is also called All Fool’s Day. Strangely enough, the origin of April Fool’s Day is a mystery, but there are several theories surrounding it. The most popular is the change of calendar. In 1582,  Pope Gregory III introduced a new calendar, which shifted New Year’s Day from the end of March to the beginning of January. But, some people held on to their traditional celebration of New Year’s Day. Others made fun of them by sending them on a fool’s errands or trying to trick them into believing something that wasn’t true. However, this explanation is inconsistent with historical records and may be conjecture, or an April Fool’s prank in itself!

The French call it Poisson d’Avril (or April Fish), because in early April, rivers and stream in France are abound with new fish hatchlings, which are easy to fool with a hook and lure. The story goes that it became customary to fool people on April 1 in order to celebrate the abundance of these ‘foolish’ fish.

Historians also connect the day to festivals of ancient origin. Hilaria in Rome is one such festival celebrated at the end of March and requires people to dress up in disguise. In India, the festival of Holi is also thought to be similar to this, with people playing tricks on one another and throwing colour at each other.

There is also a belief that April Fool’s Day originated in conjunction with the vernal equinox — the first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere — at the end of March, which is characterised by light-hearted celebration.

How to cook a unicorn

In 2012, the British Library announced on its Medieval Manuscripts Blog that they had discovered a long-lost cookbook detailing how to cook a unicorn. The recipe told enthusiastic medieval chefs to “taketh one unicorne” and marinate it in a mixture of cloves and garlic before roasting it on a griddle. It even contained hand-drawn instructions! The cookbook also included recipes to cook hedgehogs and blackbirds, but the scrumptious unicorns were the most outrageous. We’d have believed them if they were in scrolls of papyrus, right?

This one is old, but not nearly as old as another on this list, and definitely not as bizarre. In 1922, a new stock called A.F.P. showed up on the Detroit Stock Exchange. Rumour had it that the initials stood for American Fire Protection, and even though little was known about the company, it traded quite well. Eventually, the Michigan Securities Commission was contacted and they confirmed that the new stock hadn’t been sanctioned. Sales of the stock were deemed illegal and brokers who traded in it were responsible for their own losses. Later, it was found that the initials stood for All Fools Preferred. To this day, the identity of the person who listed the stock remains unknown.

The Derbyshire Mummified Fairy
Dan Baines, an illusion designer for magicians in London, put up a few images of what appeared to be a mummified fairy on his website and caused a major stir among alien hunters. He claimed that the remains were discovered in the Derbyshire countryside. On April 1 in 2007, he revealed that it was a hoax, but many refused to believe his admission, dismissing it as a cover-up. Last year, Dan even got a make-your-own-mummified-fairy Kickstarter campaign funded!

Qualcomm’s Wolf Pigeon
This has got to be one of the silliest (read: most absurd) pranks. Chip maker Qualcomm announced in 2009 that they were expanding their wireless coverage by using a hybrid animal that they had created — the wolf-pigeon. Wolf-pigeons, they said, were very effective and they could be sent out in packs. But, because wolf-pigeons tend to go AWOL, they created another hybrid animal, the shark-falcon, to keep the population of wolf-pigeons in check. And to control the shark-falcons, there were plans to create the crocadeagle, a crocodile-eagle hybrid! How we wish this wasn’t a prank!

Never Gonna Give Up Rickrolling
This internet prank is a hilarious phenomenon. During a discussion (mostly, a very serious one) online, people are presented with a link that is supposed to shed light on the topic at hand. The link is pushed as something simple, yet something that will put the debate to bed for good. But, it redirects them to a video of Rick Astley’s 1987 hit Never Gonna Give You Up. The prank was tremendously popular in late 2007, but on April 1 in 2008, YouTube redirected all featured videos to Astley’s clip and Rickrolled the internet. We still don’t know why people make fun of Rick Astley!

Texas Honours the Boston Strangler
Now this is très weird! In 1971, the Texas House of Representatives passed a unanimous resolution, honouring a man on behalf of the state of Massachusetts, for his unconventional techniques in population control and applied psychology. The funny (or sad) bit was that the man was Albert DeSalvo, also known as the Boston Strangler. The move was apparently sponsored by two representatives of the house, Tom Moore Jr. and Lane Denton, who wanted to show people that congressmen didn’t actually read the bills or resolutions that they were passing.

Frogs And Wave Collide!
Here’s another old prank. In 1906, the Wichita Daily Eagle covered news of a very strange phenomenon. A huge wave was moving towards the south of the Arkansas River, while simultaneously millions of frogs — spread out over 11 miles — were moving north along the river. The two were supposed to meet at 10 in the morning. Reading this, thousands of people made their way to the banks of the river to catch a once-in-a-lifetime sight. Finally, after waiting for hours, the crowd realised that it was a April Fool’s Day prank and dispersed.

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