Even wonder where April Fools' Day originated? If you happen to ask an expert, beware that you may be fooled. In 1983 the Associated Press reported that the mystery of the origin of April Fools' Day had finally been solved. The AP reported that Joseph Boskin, a history professor at Boston University, had discovered that the celebration had begun during the Roman empire, when a court jester boasted to Emperor Constantine that the fools and jesters of the court were better rulers than the emperor. In response, Constantine decreed that each court fool would rule the kingdom for a day. The first jester to rule was named Kugel and he immediately decreed that only the absurd would be allowed in the kingdom on that day -- thus April Fools' Day was born. Of course, news media throughout the country reprinted the story, only to find out later that Professor Boskin was actually fooling.
For many people, the desire for weight loss is so great they will try (and believe) anything. In 2000, the British Daily Mail announced that Esporta Health Clubs had launched a new line of socks designed to help people lose weight. Dubbed "FatSox," these revolutionary weight loss socks could actually suck body fat out of sweating feet. The socks' patented nylon polymer called FloraAstraTetrazine, created by American professor Frank Ellis Elgood, supposedly drew fat from the wearer's feet through perspiration. After the wearer sweated out the fat, the socks could simply be washed and fat be gone. It's one thing to think a diet or diet pill will help you lose weight -- but socks?
Though highly aggressive bees are real, most neighborhoods don't have to worry about a swarm taking over. However, in 1994, residents of Glendale and Peoria, Arizona, had quite a scare when they found pamphlets warning them of "Operation Killer Bees." Apparently there was to be widespread aerial spraying later that day to eradicate a killer bee population that was in the area. Residents were warned to stay indoors from 9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. The phone numbers of local television and radio stations were provided as the contacts for more information. On the bottom of the brochure, the name of an official government agency was listed: Arizona Pest Removal Information Line (For Outside Operations Listings) -- note the first letters of each word and the hidden message spelled out. Radio and television stations as well as the Arizona Agricultural Department were "abuzz" with numerous calls from worried residents. Many people anxiously spent the day looking out their windows for the pest-control planes to fly overhead -- although fortunately the only "sting" was perhaps to their pride.
People either love or hate PETA for their animal-rights crusades -- and in 2000, they rocked the boat for many anglers while protesting against fishing. The nonprofit animal-protection agency warned fishermen that it planned to sabotage the bass fishing tournament being held at East Texas's Lake Palestine. PETA said that their supporters would be releasing tranquilizers into the lake before the tournament to keep the fish from biting, stating that "this year, the fish will be napping, not nibbling." Texas state officials took the threat seriously and stationed rangers around the lake to stop any tranquilizer-toting activists from drugging the fish. The truth? No fish were doped during the tournament. Eventually PETA admitted that it was a joke.
The world is certain to end one day, but when remains a mystery. But that doesn't stop people from predicting it – or April Fooling about it. On March 31, 1940, Philadelphia's Franklin Institute issued a press release stating that the world would end the next day (April Fools' Day). Radio station KYW proceeded to broadcast the following message: "Your worst fears that the world will end are confirmed by astronomers of Franklin Institute, Philadelphia. Scientists predict that the world will end at 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time tomorrow. This is no April Fool joke. Confirmation can be obtained from Wagner Schlesinger, director of the Fels Planetarium of this city." Local authorities were flooded with frantic phone calls from people terrified that doomsday was on the doorstep. It turned out that the press release was a fake, created by William Castellini, the institute's press agent, who was simply trying to publicize the April 1st lecture at the Institute titled "How Will the World End?" The joke turned out to be on Castellini, though – he lost his job over the prank.
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