“April Fools’ Day… dates back several centuries to the Middle Ages.” — WorldHistory.us
April 1, 1424: A woman in Edinburgh serves her no-good husband a delicacy she invented called “haggis.”
April 1, 1589: Armed with quill pens, a rhyming dictionary, and dozens of confusing plots, Francis Bacon and Kit Marlowe launch a prank they expect will be unmasked by theatre critics in a year or two, tops.
April 1, 1603: “Check out these little brown tulip bulbs," one Dutchman tells another. “You should definitely spend lots of money on them.”
April 1, 1684: King Charles II announces that, henceforth, judges must wear wigs that make them look like monstrous sheep.
April 1, 1691: A couple of tweens in Salem, Mass., agree everyone will find it hilarious if “we behave as if a strange fit is upon us, tee hee.”
April 1, 1702: The jumbo “beauty mark” is introduced.
April 1, 1761: Catherine the Great punks her lover — who has a fear of horses — by decorating their bed with fake hoof prints. “What harm could come of it?” she writes in her diary.
April 1, 1787: Martha Washington swaps her husband’s dentures for a set she fashioned from horehound candy and fish glue. George unwittingly wears them for months, making his jaws so sticky that at the Constitutional Convention he can’t share his “plan for ensuring that our nation shall become a non-sexist, non-racist, non-heteronormative utopia.”
April 1, 1805: Sick of hearing Lewis and Clark prank her with bear noises while she lugs a baby around, Sacajawea quietly rips up her directions to the Northwest Passage.
April 1, 1807: In a move he will soon regret, Tsar Alexander I sends Napoleon Bonaparte a painting of a Borzoi puppy in a bicorne hat, with a note asking, “This you?”
March 3, 1841: William Henry Harrison’s grandson Benjamin gets a jump on April Fools by hiding Grampa’s coat. “Oh well,” Harrison says the next day, heading to his inauguration in a light sweater. “A little fresh air will do me good.”
April 1, 1844: Fun-loving 13-year-old Emily Dickinson runs about, pinning notes (“Kick me! — / Lick me! —”) on schoolmates’ backs. When a cousin dies of typhus soon afterward, Dickinson renounces her boisterous ways: “I might have cured — my cuz who died — / Had I not horsed — around — outside.”
April 1, 1861: “You know what we should do this month?” South Carolina’s governor asks his militia. “Bombard Fort Sumter!” He then enjoys a tall glass of corn whiskey, thinking what fun it is to have a day when everyone knows you can’t suggest anything serious.
April 1, 1871: The “handlebar mustache.”
April 1, 1909: “Cubism.”
April 1, 1910: Grinning with mischief, 10-year-old Hans K. trails his sweet, peace-loving chum Adolf H. with a pair of scissors, planning to snip a lock of his hair — then trips and lops off one of Adolf’s testicles instead.
April 1, 1912: As the RMS Titanic is readied for her maiden voyage, an impish cabin boy tapes drawings of icebergs to windows on the bridge — causing his superiors to laugh appreciatively before whipping him. Upon first hearing warnings of “Ice!” thirteen days later, Captain Smith murmurs, “That cabin boy,” and resumes eating oysters with the Astors.
April 1, 1919: The open-backed “hospital gown.”
April 1, 1937: After a night of drinking, navigator Fred Noonan reverses North and South on Amelia Earhart’s gyroscope. “What a chuckle she’ll have when she notices, months ahead of our big trip,” he thinks before passing out and waking with no memory of the caper.
April 1, 1941: In a move he will soon regret, Franklin Roosevelt sends Emperor Hirohito a picture of a samurai in spectacles: “This you?”
April 1, 1957: “Pantyhose.”
April 1, 1962: The “cockapoo.”
April 1, 1966: A roadie gleefully cranks up Jimi Hendrix’s amp, then waits for the feedback to drive him crazy. Instead, Hendrix purrs, “Eureka, man”… and cranks it higher.
April 1, 1969: Buzz Aldrin, a fan of the long game, gives Neil Armstrong “special Tang” to drink before the moon landing, so he’ll sound perfect and not mess up his only line.
April 1, 1972: “You know what you should do in a couple months?” Richard Nixon tells G. Gordon Liddy. “Get some guys to break into the DNC office!” He then enjoys a tall glass of Château Lafite Rothschild.
April 1, 1983: Hooters, Inc. is incorporated. (Truly.)
April 1, 1987: Howard Schultz playfully hands a customer two Starbucks lattes and says, “That’ll be $16.95.” Instead of guffawing as expected, the customer pays — and Schultz rushes off to revise his business plan.
April 1, 1989: “Botox.”
April 1, 1990: “Fanny packs.”
April 1, 1996: “Speed dating.”
March 31, 1997: Even though Teletubbies’ release date has been pushed up a day, every adult in the audience knows it’s an April Fools joke.
April 1, 1998: Helpless with mirth, the International Olympic Committee adds curling to the list of winter games.
April 1, 2006: “Check out these intangible derivatives full of subprime loans,” one hedge-fund manager tells another. “You should definitely spend lots of money on them.”
April 1, 2009: “Bitcoin.”
April 1, 2010: “The Floss.”
April 1, 2012: “Selfie sticks.”
April 1, 2014: “Martin Shkreli.”
April 1, 2015: Donald J. Trump decides to run for president — and to wait until June to announce it.
April 1, 2020: April Fools’ Day is unofficially suspended due to a worldwide humor shortage. America’s village idiots agree to plan “extra awesome pranks” for January 6 instead.