Did you know one of the earliest records linking the first day of April to purposeful foolishness was in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales? While today the faux holiday is celebrated with silly inter-office emails (among other shenanigans), there was a time when hijinks were taken very seriously. Here, five all-time bests that’ll make you think twice about investing in that whoopee cushion:
1. The Scholarly Stunt
On the last day of classes back in 1994, a group of crafty MIT students placed a flashing police car on top of the school’s tallest building—or so it seemed. The vehicle was, in fact, the shell of a Chevrolet merely painted to resemble the campus’ cop cars, but the legend lives on as one of the university’s best stunts.
2. The TV Trick
On this day in 1957, the BBC aired a faux documentary about Switzerland’s “spaghetti harvest.” How convincing was the piece? Well, a slew of viewers actually phoned in to ask how they could grow their own spaghetti trees.
3. The Gotham Ghosts
In 2010, an NYC improv group surprised a room filled with unsuspecting Public Library patrons when they burst in as Proton pack–wielding Ghostbusters, recreating the movie’s famed literary scene. Sadly, no books flew off the walls, but in the end it didn’t matter—the bookworms gave them a round of applause.
4. The Crazy Clock
College students are master tricksters, apparently, and a savvy few from Louisiana Tech shocked everyone when they reprogrammed the main clock tower’s bell to play “Dueling Banjos” (from the film Deliverance) every hour on the hour. If you’ve ever seen the film, you know this prank was probably very funny and slightly terrifying all at once.
5. The Oldest Trick in the Book
During the Trojan War, in a brilliant scheme fit for modern day, the Greeks pretended to retreat, leaving a large-scale wooden horse in front of the gates of Troy. The structure, which the Trojans mistook for a victory trophy and brought into their city, was—surprise!—actually filled with Greece’s finest soldiers, who snuck out in the early morning hours and opened the gates, letting the entire Greek army in and winning the war. Next-level horseplay, folks.