April Fool's Day: Our Top 5 Best Hoaxes, Including Flying Penguins, Spaghetti Trees And High Chairs For Dogs

The Huffington Post UK  |  By   |  Posted: 1/04/2012 07:31 Updated: 1/04/2012 07:31


In honour of April Fool's Day, we have compiled a short list of the best and the worst media hoaxes of all time, spanning from amazing fake BBC documentaries on spaghetti trees to awful panic-inducing pranks by American shock jocks.

Here are five of the best:

Ikea's high chairs for dogs

Animals doing people things is a constant source of humour (see: 98% of Youtube). Combine that with sometimes weird Scandinavian furniture design, and you're on to a winner of an April Fool's gag.

In this prank, Ikea produced and released a fake reveal of a new high chair for man's best friend.

The BBC's flying penguins

Yes, the effects look a bit dated now but at the time this fake documentary made by the BBC in 2008 to promote the iPlayer had many people second-guessing themselves.

Burger King's 'left-handed Whopper' whopper

The left-handed are a persecuted population – often thwarted by spiral-bound notepads and conventional scissors – and in one fell swoop fast food giant Burger King raised their spirits, and dropped them to the ground with a thud.

Releasing this press release back in 1998, Burger King alleged to have pioneered the left-handed burger, with its contents rotated 180° to better fit a left-handed grip. Alas, it wasn't true.

The 'left-handed Whopper': Like this... but the other way round.

The Daily Mail, Jacqui Smith and the Ann Summers photos

In 2009, the Daily Mail ran photographs claiming to be of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith emerging from an Ann Summers shop. The gag was a reference to the MP's expenses revelations that Smith's husband, Richard Timney, had claimed expenses for pornography he bought.

The BBC and the spaghetti trees

An oldie but a goodie, this hoax dates back to 1957, when the Beeb produced a fake three-minute Panorama documentary about Swiss spaghetti trees.

At the time, spaghetti was something of a delicacy and not widely eaten in the UK. Therefore, many fell for the story, about a Swiss family and their spaghetti-sprouting trees, with some calling and asking how to grow their own.

And, in honor of April Fool's Day, we have assembled a collection of the world's most deceptive hoaxes in recent history. Take a look at our choices below, and let us know which ones we've forgotten

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  • Famous Loch Ness Monster Photograph

    The most famous picture of the Loch Ness Monster, a grainy black-and-white photograph showing a long head and neck emerging from the lake, was eventually revealed to be a hoax. As the <em>New York Times </em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1994/03/20/weekinreview/loch-ness-fiction-is-stranger-than-truth.html" target="_hplink">reported</a>, the "monster" in the photograph was a bogus 12-inch-high model made from plastic, wood and a toy submarine purchased for two shillings, six pence in Woolworth's in a London suburb, David Martin and Alastair Boyd, of the Loch Ness and Morar Project said. (Photo: AP)

  • Adolf Hitler's $6 Million Diary

    In 1983, German newsweekly<em> Stern</em> claimed to be the new owners of what would have been the most explosive diaries in history: the collected thoughts of Adolf Hitler, <em>Time</em> <a href="http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1931133_1931132_1931123,00.html" target="_hplink">reports</a>. Though the magazine paid a cool $6 million for the documents, the diaries were later exposed as "grotesquely superficial fakes" made on modern paper using 1980s-era ink and riddled with historical inaccuracies. The prank cost editors at <em>Stern</em>, the <em>Sunday Times</em> and <em>Newsweek</em> their jobs. (Photo: AP)

  • War Of The Worlds

    The 1938 broadcast of a <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/06/0617_050617_warworlds.html" target="_hplink">radio adaptation</a> of HG Wells' <em>The War of the Worlds</em> frightened many listeners into believing an actual alien invasion was in progress. Narrated by Orson Wells, the adaptation had been written and performed to sound like an actual news broadcast about an invasion from wars. Believing they were under attack by Martians, listeners flooded newspaper offices and radio and police stations with calls, asking how to flee their city. (Photo: AP File)

  • Georgia Invasion Hoax

    As <em>Time</em> <a href="http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1931133_1931132,00.html" target="_hplink">reports</a>, Georgians were in for the shock of their lives in when the pro-government Imedi station announced that the country's pro-western leader Mikheil Saakashvili had been murdered and Russian tanks were yet again invading their land, barely 18 months on from the short-lived war of 2008. Panic understandably ensued as people piled onto the streets, and the cell phone network collapsed. Apparently the broadcast was introduced as a simulation of possible events but this warning was clearly lost on many Georgians: people were taken to hospital suffering from stress and it's been reported that one woman, whose son was in the army, had a heart attack and died. (Photo: Getty)

  • Piltdown Man

    In 1912, British scientists believed they had finally found definitive proof of mankind's evolution: the missing link between man and ape. As<em> Time</em><a href="http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1931133_1931132_1931125,00.html" target="_hplink"> reports</a>, the parts of a skull and jawbone, collected from a gravel pit in the village of Piltdown, had many experts convinced they were the fossilised remains of an unknown form of early man. But 41 years later, Piltdown man was finally exposed as a composite forgery: a human skull from medieval times, the 500-year-old lower jaw of a Sarawak orangutan and chimpanzee fossil teeth. (Photo: Wikicommons)

  • Balloon Boy

    On 15 October 2009, Richard and Mayumi Heene in Fort Collins, Colorado, allowed a gas balloon filled with helium to float away into the atmosphere and then claimed that their six-year-old son Falcon was inside it. As CNN <a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2009-10-16/us/colorado.balloon.boy_1_richard-heene-mayumi-heene-alderden?_s=PM:US" target="_hplink">reports</a>, when the balloon finally landed, Falcon was not on board. Later, he came out from hiding in an attic over the home's garage.

  • Alien Autopsy

    As the Science Channel reports, London-based video entrepreneur Ray Santilli claimed to own footage of an alien autopsy performed after the 1947 Roswell Incident, which aired in 1995 to an audience of millions. He later fessed up to the hoax, noting that all the alien innards in the film were actually sheep brains, raspberry jam and chicken entrails. (Photo: AP)

  • Microsoft Buys The Catholic Church

    In 1994 a press release bearing a Vatican City dateline, began circulating around the Web claiming that Microsoft had <a href="http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/msft.html" target="_hplink">bought</a> the Catholic church. The release even quoted Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates as saying, "The combined resources of Microsoft and the Catholic Church will allow us to make religion easier and more fun for a broader range of people." Microsoft finally issued a formal denial of the release on 16 December, 1994. (Photo: AP)