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Warning. It’s April Fool’s Day. Every year, forgetting what day it is, I fall for some good- natured prank — usually at the hand of one of my kids or a colleague. They know I have my thoughts on something besides this dubious holiday.

So I thought, as a public service, I would give you fair warning.

One of my favorite examples of April foolishness came in 1996 when Taco Bell took out full page ads in major markets claiming it had purchased the Liberty Bell, and was renaming it the “Taco Liberty Bell.” The hue and cry from angry citizens was heard far beyond the Philadelphia city limits. Before Taco Bell admitted that it was an April Fool’s joke, White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry, who had been questioned about it during a press briefing, said that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold. He claimed it would now be known as the “Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.”


Apparently 1996 was a good year for April Fool’s pranks. That year, on April 1st, thousands of people were hoodwinked by an online hoax announcing that all computers connected to the web would have to be disconnected for Internet Cleaning Day.

(I did not fall for that one.)

I was curious on how April Fool’s Day came to be. The origins are unclear, but the most commonly accepted theory is that it started in 1582 when France adopted the Gregorian Calendar – changing New Year’s from the end of March (around the time of the vernal equinox) to January 1st. Apparently, some stubborn folks continued to ring in the New Year on April 1, and became the butt of April Fools jokes.

Now we know. Still, even though I now know this, I’ll probably forget and naively open the can of nuts with the spring-loaded snakes inside.

For the Top 100 April Fool’s Hoaxes of All Time, go to: