Stephens Susies were among the first to joke around; on April 1, 1913, a group of students played hooky and went swimming in Rollins Spring. When then-president James Madison Wood learned of their rebellious behavior, he packed a picnic basket and joined them — thereby creating the first of many Stop Days for Stephens College students.
Two years later, this cartoon appeared in the University Missourian along with an article titled “Jokers Annihilate Armies: April-Fool Pranks Play Havoc With European War Map.” The author wrote: “In the corridor of the third floor of Academic Hall, European armies have made radical changes in their maneuvers. The French apparently have given up the war and have fled to the western coast of France. The English have disappeared entirely. All the German forces of the western theater are quartered in Paris. In the east, the Austrian and German forces are massed in the lowlands of Prussia, surrounded by Russian and Servian [sic] troops. A few Servians are left as garrisons along the frontier. One lone Austrian army corps has escaped and is now stationed in the middle of the North Sea. The havoc is attributed to some April Fool prank.”
Strange But True April Fools Day Facts
- In the U.S., the entire day of April 1 is fair game for playing an April Fools prank, but in other countries, such as Canada, Australia and South Africa, the real fool is the one who plays an April Fools Day joke after noon.
- The Museum Of Hoaxes has actually compiled a list of the Top 100 April Fools hoaxes of all times. Here’s the classic hoax that landed at No. 1 on the list:
On 1 April 1957, the respected BBC news show “Panorama” announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied, “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”
- Several U.S. companies have earned a reputation for being superb April Fools Day jokesters. Beware of these clever pranksters: Google, NPR, Virgin, and the BBC, the British media company behind the aforementioned Spaghetti harvest hoax.