Sunday, April 01, 2007

April Fool's Day Quiz

Every April Fool's Day the ritual is the same. Outrageously false stories — issued by a variety of sources such as corporations, non-profit organizations, journalists, and politicians — appear in the media. The challenge for all of us is to sort out the April Foolery from the weird stuff that's actually true. And every year this gets harder as reality itself becomes more surreal, blurring the line between Foolery and Fact.

Listed below are sixteen claims that have been made in the media. Approximately half the claims were April Fool's Day jokes. The other half were real news stories. Can you tell the difference between the two?

1: Don't Disturb the Squirrels
In 1993 city officials in Cologne, Germany imposed a new regulation on people jogging through the city park. Runners were required to pace themselves to go no faster than six mph. Any faster, the city officials cautioned, could disturb the squirrels who were in the middle of their mating season.

2: Corporate Tattoos
The Pepsi-Cola Company, in search of more innovative ways to reach out to young consumers, once experimented with offering teenagers an intriguing deal. The company sponsored teenagers to tattoo themselves with its corporate logo. In return for permanently branding themselves, the teenagers received a lifetime 10% discount on the company's products. Teenagers were said to have responded enthusiastically to the offer.

3: Crustless Bread
For those who just can't stand the taste of crusts, and are too lazy to cut them off themselves, Sara Lee introduced in 2002 the ultimate in convenience: crustless bread. Available in stores everywhere!

4: Pet Tax
The city of Philadelphia, faced with a looming budget shortfall, last year announced a new tax targeted at pet owners. The owners will be charged a base fee of $10 per pet, and then $1 extra for every additional pound the pet weighs over ten pounds. Failure to pay the tax could result in the euthanization of the pet.

5: Chicken Manure-Powered Electrical Plant
In 1991 Mitsubishi Bank contacted venture capitalists about an exciting new investment opportunity: Fibropower, a 14-megawatt generating plant fueled entirely by chicken poop. Finally, the investment prospectus boasted, a way to put unwanted chicken manure to good use. Suggestions that this was a chickens**t idea were ignored.

6: Prehistoric Penguin Murals
In 1991 prehistoric murals were discovered on the walls of an underwater cave in eastern France revealing that penguins and man once lived side-by-side in that region. Historians, accustomed to seeing prehistoric depictions of animals such as bison and deer, were extremely surprised to find the penguins.

7: Alabama Changes Value of Pi
In 1998 the Alabama state legislature voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi from 3.14159 to the Biblical value of 3.0. NASA engineers in Huntsvile, Alabama were reportedly disturbed by the decision.

8: Vodka Bars
Recently a Russian beverage company announced a new product designed to appeal more specifically to Russian tastes: chewy Vodka bars. The company hopes the candy bars will compete successfully against popular western imports such as Mars and Snickers bars. The Vodka bars will be available in lemon, coconut, and salted cucumber flavors.

9: Bank Teller Fees
In 1999 a Connecticut-based bank announced that due to rising costs it would be forced to charge a $5 fee every time a customer visited a live teller. The bank promised that the fee would actually help to improve the quality of customer service.

10: The Tooth Telephone
Engineers recently unveiled the world's first tooth telephone, perfect for those who want to talk hands-free while on the go. When implanted into a tooth, the tiny device vibrates to let the user know there's a call. Users speak normally, and the tiny microphone picks up their voice. Incoming sounds are transferred to the inner ear by means of bone resonance.

11: Karate experts collect bus fares
Faced with a growing number of unruly passengers, one town in Ukraine recently adopted a unique solution: Karate-trained fare collectors. The number of passengers trying to ride without paying was said to be down sharply ever since the new collectors were introduced.

12: Operation Fake Tourist
Convinced that word of mouth is the best form of advertising, Sony announced last year that it will hire actors to use the company's new camera at major tourist attractions. While posing as tourists, the actors will ask random passersby to take their picture with the Sony camera. Once a passerby agrees, the actors then begin to speak effusively about the features of the camera.

13: Whistling Carrots
Tired of overcooking the carrots? Now there's a solution. British scientists announced last year the development of a genetically modified 'whistling carrot.' Tapered airholes inside the carrot cause it to whistle when properly cooked.

14: Shark Breeding Experiment
In 1981 the National Biological Foundation released two thousand radio-tagged sharks (including blue sharks, hammerheads, and a few great whites) into selected Michigan lakes in order to study the cold-water breeding habits of the sharks. In the press release announcing the experiment, the Foundation suggested that local fishermen and swimmers should exercise caution around the sharks.

15: Carrots reclassified as a fruit
In 1979 officials in the European Union confirmed what many have long suspected: that carrots are not, in fact, a vegetable, but are actually a variety of fruit. The officials urged that appropriate reclassification efforts should begin at once.

16: Purple Carrots
For those yearning to add a colorful splash to their meals, a British supermarket announced last year that it will soon be selling purple carrots. The store hopes that the new offering will appeal to fickle children who have grown bored by the orange variety.


1: Don't Disturb the Squirrels (April Fools!)
Perpetrated by Westdeutsche Rundfunk, a Cologne radio station, in 1993.

2: Corporate Tattoos (April Fools!)
Reported by All Things Considered, on National Public Radio, in 1994.

3: Crustless Bread (True)
This actually is a new product recently announced by Sara Lee.

4: Pet Tax (April Fools!)
Perpetrated by WIOQ, A Philadelphia radio station, in 2002. But actually this is an old prank. For instance, it was also perpetrated by WZPL, an Indianapolis radio station, in 1993.

5: Chicken Manure-Powered Electrical Plant (True)
In 1991 Mitsubishi Bank in London sought investors to back a 22 million pound loan to fund Fibropower. Because Mitsubishi Bank publicized the offer around April 1, many investors assumed they were joking.

6: Prehistoric Penguin Murals (True)
The penguin murals were found in 1991 by deep-sea divers exploring a cave 7.5 miles southeast of Marseilles.

7: Alabama Changes Value of Pi (April Fools!)
Reported in the 1998 issue of New Mexicans for Science and Reason, but before long it had spread throughout the internet. The Alabama legislature received thousands of angry calls from people who believed this story to be true.

8: Vodka Bars (April Fools!)
Reported by the Itar-Tass Russian News Agency in 1994. Oddly enough, in a case of life imitating art, a South Korean brewer announced in 2002 that it had perfected a form of chewable rice wine.

9: Bank Teller Fees (April Fools!)
Advertised in 1999 in the Journal-Inquirer by the Savings Bank of Rockville, a Connecticut-based bank. Reportedly many customers were convinced that it was true. One woman even cancelled her account to protest the fee.

10: The Tooth Telephone (True)
Invented by Jimmy Loizeau and James Auger, researchers at MIT Media Lab Europe. Not yet available for consumers.

11: Karate experts collect bus fares (True)
A strategy implemented in 1993 by the city of Chernivtsy in western Ukraine following a number of attacks on bus inspectors.

12: Operation Fake Tourist (True)
A 'guerrilla marketing' tactic adopted by Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications Ltd. in 2002 to help spread the word about its new mobile phone that doubles as a camera. Teams of actors hang around landmarks such as the Empire State Building asking passersby to snap their photo.

13: Whistling Carrots (April Fools!)
Advertised by Tesco, a British supermarket chain, in a half-page advertisement in The Sun in 2002.

14: Shark Breeding Experiment (April Fools!)
Reported by the Herald-News in Roscommon, Michigan in 1981.

15: Carrots reclassified as a fruit (True)
Bureaucrats in the European Union did classify carrots as a fruit in a 1979 directive, apparently because the Portuguese use carrots to make jam, and anything used to make jam, in their eyes, must be a fruit.

16: Purple Carrots (True)
In 2002 Sainsbury began marketing purple carrots. But carrots have actually come in purple varieties for thousands of years. The orange ones are the newcomers, bred to be that color in the 1500s by Dutch growers paying homage to their royal family, the House of Orange.


Anonymous johnd said...

Got 12 correct, does that mean I'm not a fool?

Sunday, April 01, 2007 4:34:00 PM  
Blogger Tramp said...

You were never a fool JohnD.

That simply means you are a hard person to fool.

Sunday, April 01, 2007 6:03:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home