Questionable Origins of April Fool's Day


If you've read one of the many prank-posts on the HowStuffWorks.com blogs today, you know it's April Fool's Day. We have a history here of indulging in fake stories -- read last year's prank about "How the Air Force One Hybrid Works." But we're not alone. In 1996, Taco Bell fooled the nation in what has got to be one of the all-time best April Fool's jokes. The Museum of Hoaxes website tells how on April 1 of that year, the fast-food company issued a full-page ad in several major newspapers proclaiming that it had negotiated a deal to buy the Liberty Bell from the Federal Government to reduce the national debt.

If you're looking for the real history of the day, we have an article that explains some of the possible origins of April Fool's Day, but I wanted to go over a great prank about its history. National Geographic News tells the story of a historian with a sense of humor, Joseph Boskin, who fooled an AP reporter. In 1983, the reporter asked Boskin for a history of the day, and Boskin saw a great opportunity.

Boskin told the reporter that while Constantine was Roman Emperor in the early 4th century, he gave in to a plea from his jester who wanted to rule as emperor for a day. The jester got his day in the sun on (you guessed it) April 1, and forever after this day was celebrated with foolery. Boskin named the imaginary jester Kugel, which is the name of a traditional, Jewish side-dish that his friend was craving. The AP printed the story, and it was weeks before the agency realized the mistake and issued corrections.

Watch this video to see Boskin describe the prank himself.

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