There’s a sucker born every minute, but the birth rate in some cities is higher than others. We’re a nation of gullible people, and no time is that more apparent than on April Fools’ Day. Here’s a list of the 20 cities with the most April fools.
We define an April fool as someone highly interested in foolishness, and that we judged in four ways:
- Volume of Google searches for “April Fools pranks.”
- Volume of Google searches for “pranks.”
- Outrageous pranks that fooled a lot of people.
- Number of shops specializing in gags and prankster paraphernalia.
The number of fools and pranksters tends to be a symbiotic relationship. The more pranksters you have in a city, the greater the likelihood more people will fall victim to the ruse. A review of Google Trends data gives that honor to Denver.
More people in Denver search for the term “April fools prank” than in any other city. And they’ve certainly come up with some good ones over the years. The most famous involved a conspiracy theory about secret bunkers and tunnels at Denver International Airport. The rumors about the Illuminati and meeting places for the “New World Order” have been circulating since the airport opened in 1995. No wonder so many people believed airport staffers when they confirmed the rumors.
(By the way, you’re a sucker if you believe “There’s a sucker born every minute” were words actually uttered by showman P.T. Barnum.)
|US Metro Areas With the Most April Fools|
|11 (tie)||Charlotte, N.C.||141|
Most Outrageous Pranks
Here are some of the April Fools pranks we deemed worthy of extra points, and the cities whose citizens were fooled:
Thousands of people in the Valley of the Sun liked a 2016 Facebook post from the Phoenix Zoo announcing the arrival of the “rarest reptilian mammals in the world, the Andean Tortobear” — a furry tortoise. Hundreds more showed up to see it.
The Phoenix Zoo is excited to announce the arrival of one of the rarest reptilian mammals in the world, the Andean tortobear!
Baseball is famous for rhubarbs, but the Arizona Diamondbacks added a different food when it tweeted out an April 1, 2019, photo of their newest option at the concession stand: the churro burger. Some sportswriters were fooled, and fans at Chase Field actually tried to order the 1.5-pound bratwurst cheeseburger served on a chocolate donut with fried churros and ice cream.
Hundreds of people there called the water department or 911 in 2002 after two Kansas City DJs announced the water in Olathe, Kan., was polluted with “dihydrogen monoxide.”
They warned the side effects of this substance included increased sweating, urination, and wrinkled skin. Those who remembered their basic chemistry quickly caught on: dihydrogen monoxide means “two hydrogen, one oxygen” — aka H2O, or water. The city manager and water superintendent weren’t amused, likening the stunt to a terrorist attack.
Philadelphia, New York, Dallas, Chicago, Washington, D.C.
We lumped these cities together since their citizens, prompted by full-page ads in their newspapers, flooded the phone lines of Taco Bell’s headquarters in California and the National Park Service in Philadelphia.
Taco Bell had dreamed up an outside-the-box April 1, 1996, hoax: that the fast-food chain had bought the Liberty Bell and renamed it the “Taco Liberty Bell.” The purported cause was to help the feds reduce the national debt. The National Park Service, not amused, summoned the press to set the record straight, calling the ad “cheesy.” As for Taco Bell, it won several advertising awards for its ad campaign, but also made a gesture to soothe any ruffled feathers. To help with the bell’s upkeep, it forked over $50,000.
Denver: Rocky Mountain Oyster Beer Prank Gets Real
A Denver brewery (remember, where people are the most gullible) announced in a 2012 mock video (above) it made a beer “paying tribute to one of Colorado’s unique culinary jewels” — Rocky Mountain oyster beer. Beer lovers in the Mile High City not only believed it; they demanded a beer made of bull testicles. There was such interest that life imitated prank. The brewer later debuted its Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. Each batch contained 25 pounds of freshly sliced and roasted bull testicles. They were sold in two-packs.
Austin: Pass the Mustard
Former Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell was known for his sense of humor. Still, many people believed him in 2012 when he announced a giant fish named Carpie had invaded Lady Bird Lake. Perhaps the video he produced helped. He topped that hoax two years later when he issued 10 bizarre mandates for the city. The ones that generated the most phone calls? A requirement that mustard be on the table at all Austin restaurants and an ordinance banning travelers from wearing shorts on all flights longer than 45 minutes.
Atlanta: Hold Still, This Won’t Hurt
Child Protective Services in Atlanta and the governor’s office were flooded with calls when morning radio show host, Bert Weiss, pretended in 2011 to allow his young son to get tattooed on the air. Young Hayden Weiss was an excellent actor! After several visits from Child Protective Services, The Bert Show on WWWQ-FM has given up on April Fools’ Day pranks.
The percentage of gullibility may vary from city to city, but if there’s one thing Americans have in common, it’s the willingness to believe just about anything if they see it in writing.
So when this April Fools’ Day rolls around, whether you’re in Denver or Austin or anywhere in between, when you see or hear something that doesn’t sound quite right, check the calendar!