5 of the best April Fools' Day pranks of all time

Published: Thursday, March 31, 2016 @ 10:23 PM
Updated: Wednesday, March 29, 2017 @ 6:40 PM

April Fool's Pranks That Went Wrong

The beginning of April sparks a healthy skepticism each year. Brands, celebrities and friends and co-workers are all potential tricksters, so no one can be sure of anything they see or hear.

In celebration, here are some of the best April Fools' Day pranks brands have played on consumers.

Swedish TV announces instant color TV 

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An older prank from 1962, when Swedish television channel Sveriges Television had a "technical expert" on to show viewers how to change their black and white TVs to color: By covering the screen with nylon stockings and moving their head back and forth. According to the "expert," the mesh in the nylon refracted light and made black and white shows color.

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Taco Bell buys the Liberty Bell

It may seem ridiculous now, but there was incredible outrage in 1996 when fast food chain Taco Bell announced it was buying the Liberty Bell. The chain took out newspaper ads saying it bought the American symbol and were renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Employees of National Park Services at the Liberty Bell and Taco Bell headquarters were the ultimate victims when they had to field calls from concerned citizens. The National Park Service had a press conference to deny the reports. Taco Bell admitted it was a prank by noon.

Sir Richard Branson buys Pluto

Virgin Group founder and British billionaire Sir Richard Branson toyed with his fans and numerous media outlets when he said he was buying Pluto and reinstating it as a planet in a 2011 Facebook post. In a news release, Branson said the purchase "could pave the way for a new age in space tourism." Clues that it was a prank were in the post: It said Pluto was demoted from planet status in 1996. It happened in 2006. Most people got the joke, but some were still fooled, congratulating Branson and commending him for doing the right thing.

 Google launches Gmail

In 2004, Google fooled everyone with a prank that wasn't a prank when it launched Gmail April 1. Gmail was offering 1,000 megabytes of free storage when Yahoo offered 4 megabytes and Hotmail offered 2 megabytes. It sounded too good to be true by 2004 standards, but it after it rolled out a preview version, Gmail was available to all.

Alamo's monster truck rental program

Alamo made this 2015 monster truck venture look authentic by announcing the "big news" with a YouTube video that featured an executive saying, "Our customers ... want a more adventurous vacation." Another exec said it was a "natural progression" for Bigfoot and Alamo to partner up. The Facebook announcement also had customers fooled, and the rental company played along. When one customer asked how they can get into the car, Alamo responded, "Select locations will have ladders on site and our team is happy to help you climb in before you hit the road."

April Fools' Day! Handwriting on a napkin with a cup of coffee(marekuliasz/Getty Images/iStockphoto)