As you know, it is the tradition on April Fool’s day to prank friends, colleagues or family. But some large practical jokes have appeared in newspapers, websites or been broadcast on radio or television.

Here is a list of 10 very famous ones.

In 1957, the BBC aired an episode of the Panorama program about an increase in spaghetti crops due to a very mild winter and the elimination of the spaghetti weevil, showing footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti off trees. Spaghetti was relatively unknown in the UK at this time and so huge numbers of people were taken in, including the director-general of the BBC, Ian Jacob, who admitted to looking up “spaghetti” in his encyclopaedia. The BBC received many phone calls from viewers wanting to know how to grow their own spaghetti tree, to which the BBC replied “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”

In 1962, Swedish National Television showed a 5 minutes special on how to get colour television by placing a nylon stocking in front of the TV, due to a change in light reflection which allowed colours to show through. The special included in-depth physics to explain the phenomenon and a huge number of viewers tried the trick.

In 1976, British Astronomer Patrick Moore told listeners on BBC radio that at 9.47am that day, a rare alignment of Pluto and Saturn would cause gravity on Earth to decrease temporarily. He told people that if they jumped up in the air at that exact time, they would feel a floating sensations. Many listeners tried and called BBC radio to say they had experienced the effet, a lady even claiming that she and her friends had floated out of their chairs.

In 1998, Physicist Mark Boslough wrote an article in the April issue of New Mexicans for Science and Reason, using the name “April Holiday” hinting that in Alabama, a law had been passed that redefined Pi from 3.14 to 3.0 to bring it closer to the biblical value. Many state legislators were inundated with phone calls warning them to left Pi alone.

In 2011, Google announced that it would introduce Gmail Motion, a new technology allowing people to write emails using only hand gestures. The company explained that the system would use a webcam and a spatial tracking algorithm to monitor a person’s gestures and translate them into words and commands. A message could be open by making the gesture of opening and enveloppe. Although it was a practical joke and by then Google had earnt quite the reputation with its 1st of April jokes, a few days later, programmers demonstrated that such a system would be possible using existing technology, even if not very practical.

In 2002, Tesco, a chain of British supermarkets put an ad in the Sun announcing that it had financed the development of genetically modified “whistling carrots”. It explained that the carrots had been specifically created to grow with tapered holes in their sides. When fully cooked, the holes caused the carrot to emit a signal indicating that they were done.

In 1980, the BBC reported that Big Ben was going to be revamped and given a digital display. The report featured people reminiscing about Big Ben’s past and announced that the clock hands becoming obsolete, they would be sold to the first four listeners to call in. One Japanese man onboard a boat in the Atlantic send in a bid via radio. The BBC was inundated with calls from listeners furious that Big Ben was going to be interfered in. Very few people found the hoax amusing and the BBC had to spend several days apologizing.

In 1998, fast food giant Burger King came up with a stroke of marketing genius. They took a full-page ad in USA today and announced the creation of a “left-handed Whopper” with all condiments rotated 180 degrees so as to be easier to hold for the left-handed part of the population. A surprising number of people went to the fast-food outlets asking for the new whopper. An even more surprising number asked for a “right-handed” version of it!

In 1989, Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin, decided to drum up some publicity for his new airline by landing an UFO shaped hot air balloon in Hyde Park in London. Unfortunately, the wind blew it off course and sent the balloon to a field in Surrey but the hoax worked and a few motorists, travelling on the M25 called the police to report the presence of the UFO.

In 1977, the newspaper, the Guardian published a 7-page travel supplement on the tropical island of San Serriffe in the Indian Ocean. The report was packed with in-jokes such as the main islands’ names- Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse and the capital’s name Bodoni which is a type of font. Kodak decided to add to the credibility of the story by having an ad asking readers to share their holiday snapshots of San Sherriffe before noon on that day.

 

 

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Amongst the thousands of chocolate available for Easter, one famous egg stands out in particular.  A landmark of Easter in most Anglophone countries in recent years, the Cadbury Creme Egg is as popular as ever.

Why all the excitement for a chocolate egg, you might ask? CAdbury Creme Egg

The Cadbury Crème Egg is no mere chocolate egg. It has a thick milk chocolate shell, filled with a white and yellow fondant which imitates the inside of a real chicken egg and is unique on the chocolate market.

In the UK, it is the best selling confectionary item between New Year and Easter, with annual sales exceeding £200 million and a brand value of £55 million.

The Crème egg as we know it today was introduced in 1963. It was renamed Cadbury’s Creme egg in 1971.

Sales really took off in 1975, when Cadbury Creme Egg became a cult through the power of TV advertising.

About 1.5 million Cadbury Creme Egg eggs can be made every day at the Bournville factory. They’re made in two halves, both filled with white and one additionally filled with yellow fondant. The two halves are closed together quickly and there it is – a Cadbury Creme Egg.

Oh and incidentally, if you are tempted, one Cadbury Crème egg represents 150 calories.

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Easter is famous for its religious ceremonies and for eating chocolate.  Here is a list of funny facts you may not know about Easter.

  • The traditional act of painting eggs is called Pysanka.
  • Sales at Easter time make up 10 per cent of UK chocolate spending for the whole year.
  • The name Easter owes its origin from Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess who symbolises hare and egg.
  • On Easter Sunday in Scotland and North-East England, some people have great fun rolling painted eggs down steep hills. This is also popular in parts of America, where people push the egg along with a spoon.
  • 76% of people eat the ears on chocolate bunnies first, 5% go for the feet and 4% opt for the tail.
  • Every child in the UK receives an average of 8.8 Easter eggs every year – double their recommended calorie intake for a whole week.
  • In medieval times, a festival of ‘egg-throwing’ was held in church. The priest would throw a hard-boiled egg to one of the choir boys, and then tossed from one choir boy to the next. When the clock struck 12, whoever held the egg, was the winner and got to keep the egg.
  • The UK’s first chocolate egg was produced in 1873 by Fry’s of Bristol.
  • The White House hosts an Easter Egg Roll on the front lawn each year. This tradition was started by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878.
  • The custom of giving eggs at Easter has been traced back to Egyptians, Persians, Gauls, Greeks and Romans, for whom the egg was a symbol of life.
  • The tallest chocolate Easter egg ever was made in Italy in 2011. At 10.39 metres in height and 7,200 kg in weight, it was taller than a giraffe and heavier than an elephant.
  • In 2012, London hosted the world’s biggest-ever Easter egg hunt.
  • The exchange of eggs for Easter dates back to a springtime custom older than Easter itself in which eggs were given as a symbol of rebirth in many cultures.
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Sleeping in the computer bag ... waiting for the mouse to return.

Sleeping in the computer bag … waiting for the mouse to return.

Here are some fantastic facts for all you cat lovers !

  1. On average, cats spend 2/3 of every day sleeping.
  2. A group of cats is called a “clowder.”
  3. Cats make about 100 different sounds. Dogs make only about 10.
  4. During the time of the Spanish Inquisition, Pope Innocent VIII condemned cats as evil and thousands of cats were burned. Unfortunately, by killing lots of cats, it led to an explosion of the rat population, which helped develop the Black Death.
  5. The first cat in space was a French cat named Felicette (a.k.a. “Astrocat”) in 1963.
  6. In many parts of Europe and North America,  black cats are a sign of bad luck, but in Britain and Australia, black cats are lucky.
  7. A cat lover is called an Ailurophilia (Greek: cat+lover).
  8. A cat has 230 bones in its body. A human has 206.
  9. A female cat is called a queen or a molly.
  10. A cat usually has about 12 whiskers on each side of its face.

I bet you didn’t know that !

 

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The Kiss 1901-4 by Auguste Rodin 1840-1917As February is the month of St. Valentine’s day, we couldn’t forget a post about kissing.

Rodin sculpted his masterpiece ‘The Kiss’ in 1889.

The kiss of life is when you help someone who has stopped breathing, and it is sometimes called mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

American teenagers sometimes write S.W.A.L.K. on the back of their love letters: “Sealed With A Loving Kiss”.

And did you know that the Ancient Romans had 3 words for kisses:

  • ‘basium’ – a kiss for acquaintances
  • ‘osculum’ – a kiss between close friends
  • ‘suavium’ – a kiss between lovers

Finally, Coco Chanel was once asked a simple question:

“Where should one use perfume?” a young woman asked.

“Wherever one wants to be kissed.” replied Coco !

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rainbow

English children (and adults) have a technique to remember the colours of the rainbow. They memorize the sentence:

“Richard of York gained battles in vain.”

  • Richard – Red
  • Of – Orange
  • York – Yellow
  • Gained – Green
  • Battles – Blue
  • In – Indigo
  • Vain – Violet

Easy, isn’t it?

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Tennis. A romantic game ?

Tennis. A romantic game ?

Do you like tennis ? Do you love tennis ? Have you noticed that in English, a tennis umpire sometimes uses the word ‘love’ ? “15 – love”, “30 – love”.

Do you know why ? Well, it’s because of the French. Yes, the French have a reputation as romantic lovers, but it’s not because of that.

As tennis originated in France (Yes ! It comes from the word ‘Tenez!’ as the player hits the ball.), the scoring was announced in French. The egg symbolizes having nothing (as it is round, like a zero) and when a player’s score is zero, they say “egg”. When you say “egg” in French (l’oeuf) it sounds like “love”. So when English-speaking people started playing the sport, they used the French word as it was fashionable.

So now you know !

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wine-toast

Why do we ‘clink’ glasses together when we say “Cheers!” before drinking with friends and acquaintances?

The first story I heard was that making a noise when you knock the glasses together frightens evil spirits and demons, and in this way, they do not go into your mouth when you drink alcohol (that evil drink !).

It sounds interesting but I prefer the story that suggests that by pouring a little of your drink into your friend’s glass and then receiving some of your friend’s drink, you would show that there was no poison in your cup or glass and you were not trying to poison him or her. The pouring became vigorous knocking and then ‘clinking’ with time.

What do you think ?

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