• Swiss Spaghetti Harvest
April 1, 1957: BBC broadcasted a report on its current affairs program, Panorama, about a family in southern Switzerland harvesting spaghetti from spaghetti trees.
This was when Italian dishes were not widely available in the U.K. Not all Brits knew spaghetti is a pasta made from wheat flour and water.
Hundreds of viewers phoned the BBC, either to say the story was not true or were wondering about it, asking how to grow their own spaghetti trees.
Decades later CNN called this broadcast “the biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled.”
• Metric Time
April 1, 1975: an Australian TV show, This Day Tonight, announced the country would be converting to “metric time.”
Metric time would have 100 seconds to the minute, 100 minutes to the hour, and 20-hour days.
Seconds would become millidays, minutes become centidays, and hours become decidays.
A shot of Adelaide’s Town Hall with a new 10-hour metric clock face was shown.
The report included an interview with Deputy Premier Des Corcoran, who was on in the prank, praised the new time system.
Calls came into the TV station from viewers who fell for the hoax. One irate caller who had just purchased a new digital clock wanted to know whether it could be converted to metric time.
It’s in the Museum of Hoaxes: http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/af_database/permalink/metric_time/
• Left-Handed Whopper
April 1, 1998: Burger King cooked up a new Whopper.
In a full-page ad in USA Today, Burger King announced a solution for the 1.4 million southpaws visiting their restaurants every day — a Left-Handed Whopper.
So they could “Have It Their Way,” the burger’s contents were rotated 180° for left-handed customers.
Left-handers tried to order the burger the next day. They had to wait in line behind right-handed customers, however, who wanted to be certain they were getting right-handed Whoppers.
Obviously it didn’t occur to any of these customers that a burger is a circle — in which components are equal all the way around.