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)

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Study: Doctors give patients only seconds to explain reason for visit before interrupting

Published: Saturday, July 21, 2018 @ 3:48 PM

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Have you ever felt rushed during a doctor’s visit? Most physicians don’t give their patients adequate time to explain the reason for their visit, according to a new study. 

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Researchers from the University of Florida, Gainesville, recently conducted a study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, to explore clinical encounters between doctors and their patients.

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To do so, they assessed the initial few minutes of consultations between 112 patients and their medical practitioners between 2008 and 2015. The encounters they reviewed were videotaped in various clinics in the United States.

>> Heart attack sufferers more likely to survive if doctor is away, study says

The scientists observed whether doctors invited patients to set the agenda with questions such as “What can I do for you?” They also took notes on whether patients were interrupted while answering questions and in what manner.

After analyzing the results, they found that 36 percent of patients were able to set the agenda. However, they were interrupted 11 seconds on average after beginning their statements. Those who were not interrupted finished speaking after about six seconds. 

>> Medical errors kill almost as many as heart disease, doctors say

They said primary care doctors allowed more time than specialists as specialists generally know the purpose of a visit. 

“If done respectfully and with the patient’s best interest in mind, interruptions to the patient’s discourse may clarify or focus the conversation, and thus benefit patients,” co-author Singh Ospina said in a statement. “Yet, it seems rather unlikely that an interruption, even to clarify or focus, could be beneficial at the early stage in the encounter.”

>> Doctor burnout can cause major medical errors, study finds

While they are unclear why doctors don’t allow patients to speak longer, they believe time constraints, not enough training on how to communicate with patients and burnout may be factors. 

The scientists now hope to further explore their investigations on the ultimate experience of doctor visits and the outcomes. 

“Our results suggest that we are far from achieving patient-centered care,” she says. 

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Heart doctor for former President H.W. Bush killed in bicycle drive-by shooting 

Published: Saturday, July 21, 2018 @ 9:00 AM

Cardiologist for Former President George H.W. Bush Killed in Bicycle Drive-By Shooting

A cardiologist who treated former President George H.W. Bush was shot and killed Friday in a bicycle drive-by shooting near Texas Medical Center in Houston.

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Police said Dr. Mark Hausknecht, 65, was riding his bicycle near Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women just before 9 a.m. on Friday when he was shot by another bicyclist going in the other direction, Houston Police tweeted.

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The man fired two shots at Hausknecht before taking off on his bike, police said.

Hausknecht was on his way to work at the time, KTRK reported. A witness flagged down a private ambulance driving by the scene. Emergency crews rushed him to a nearby hospital, where he later died.

Investigators do not know if the shooting was random or targeted, or possibly the result of road rage.

Jim McGrath, spokesperson for former President H.W. Bush, 94, issued a statement on Twitter.

“Mark was a fantastic cardiologist and a good man,” President Bush said in the statement. “I will always be grateful for his exceptional, compassionate care. His family is in our prayers.”

The suspect in the shooting is still at large, CNN reports. He is described as a 30-year-old white or Hispanic man, wearing a tan baseball cap, grey jacket, khaki shorts and riding a light-colored mountain bicycle. 

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Drunken man tries to punch Memphis officer on Beale Street, police say

Published: Friday, July 20, 2018 @ 10:10 AM

Joseph Pszczola. (Photo: Memphis Police Department)
Joseph Pszczola. (Photo: Memphis Police Department)

A man was arrested for trying to hit a Memphis police officer on Beale Street, court records said. 

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According to the arrest affidavit FOX13 obtained, Joseph Pszczola was yelling in a popular restaurant just before 11 p.m. on Thursday. 

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Employees of the business flagged down officers for help. When police arrived, they asked Pszczola to leave. Yet, he continued to scream, employees said. One of the officers said the suspect was slurring his speech and also smelled of alcohol. 

The confrontation spilled out into the street and escalated when Pszczola pushed an officer and tried to punch him, court records said

The officer then struck the suspect in the face, and Pszczola fell to the ground, according to court records. 

The suspect and the officer were transported to area hospitals and are expected to be OK. 

Pszczola was charged with misdemeanor assault, disorderly conduct and public intoxication. 

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Officer killed by suspected drunken driver during funeral escort, Dallas police say

Published: Saturday, July 21, 2018 @ 3:20 PM

Ron Jenkins/Getty Images
(Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

A 32-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department died early Saturday after he was hit by a suspected drunken driver during a funeral escort, authorities said.

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Senior Cpl. Earl “Jamie” Givens died early Saturday while he and other officers were escorting the body of Senior Cpl. Tyrone Andrews from Laurel Land Funeral Home to East Texas, police said. Andrews died of cancer, The Dallas Morning News reported.

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Givens was stopped Saturday morning with his motorcycle’s emergency lights on when he was struck by a fast-moving Kia Sportage, authorities said. Givens, who was assigned to DPD’s traffic unit in 2012, was blocking traffic to an Interstate 20 on-ramp when he was hit, according to police. 

Givens’ fellow officers rendered aid to him before the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department arrived at the scene. However, police said, he was pronounced dead after he was taken to the Baylor University Medical Center.

The driver of the Kia Sportage, whose name was not released, struck a concrete divider and stopped, according to officials. The 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

Authorities continue to investigate the incident.

Dallas police Chief Renee Hall asked for the public’s prayers Saturday during a news conference.

“Keep the Givens family in your prayers,” she said. “Keep the Dallas Police Department in your prayers. Keep the city of Dallas in your prayers.”

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