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Editor’s View: Do you find fun in the April 1 foolishness?

I’ve never been a fan of April Fools’ Day.

I guess I’ve never really understood the meaning or intention of a prank. It’s not quite a joke, where both parties could share a laugh. It always seemed to me that someone came out on the losing end of a prank, left with a feeling of sadness or embarrassment.

April Fools’ Day is believed to date back to as early as 1582, when France changed from observing the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. This shift moved the start of the year from April to January. Those who failed to receive that information and continued to celebrate the new year in late March/early April were ridiculed, hoaxed and called April fools.

Pranks have often made me anxious and uncomfortable. I find it difficult to watch them play out, even on strangers and on episodes of “America’s Funniest Videos” or “Ridiculousness.”

It wasn’t until a previous co-worker in a newspaper office many years ago played an April fools’ prank that left everyone entertained that I realized it could be possible to enjoy a little levity.

This reporter covered municipal government. For the newspaper’s April 1 edition, he wrote a fabled tale of politics downtown, with just enough detail to make it seem believable. He, of course, ended his story by telling the readers they had fallen prey to a prank. Everyone loved it - including the government officials, who seemed thankful for a good laugh.

People often go to great lengths to craft a perfect prank to generate that laughter.

You always have the standards of short-sheeting someone’s bed, switching the contents of the salt and sugar containers and the dreadful plastic wrap on the toilet seat. I’ve even seen photos of mashed potatoes topped with whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry to trick an ice cream sundae lover into grabbing a spoon.

Businesses have also gotten on board with some clever creations as well.

In 1957, British Broadcasting Corporation reported a record spaghetti crop, showing footage of Swiss farmers harvesting noodles from trees.

In 1985, Sports Illustrated printed a story, fully fabricated, about a rookie pitcher who could throw a fastball at more than 168 mph.

In 1996, Taco Bell announced it had purchased the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and planned to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell.

In 1998, Burger King unveiled a new item on the menu: a left-handed Whopper. It gets better - it’s reported countless customers actually placed orders for the sandwich.

No matter how you feel about a prank, it seems one thing is foolproof: Creativity and gullibility go hand in hand April 1.

Kelly Lutterschmidt


Whitehall-Coplay Press

Northampton Press

Catasauqua Press