Whatever happened to April Fools' Day? When you look at the pranks people used to pull off - the fake fairies of Cottingley, H. L. Mencken's spoof about bathtubs, the weird composite animals - April Fool's Day or not, you realize our zeitgeist has gotten way too serious.
So in honour of this grand opportunity and the inner trickster in us all, here's a quick test of your F.Q., or Foolishness Quotient. Which of the following food fricassees is fact or fooling you? Now, no cheating - give it your best shot before you check.
And remember, all your April Fools' fooling has to be over by 12 noon April 1. But you can start at midnight, which can let you land some real unexpected zingers.
Fact or fooling you?
No. 1: Grass for gamon
Media can't resist April Fools', and many of the tricks over the years have centred on food, no surprise, given its primacy.
One of the biggest April Fools' spoofs of all times was a 1945 broadcast from ABC radio in Australia. The Ministry of Agriculture announced that, working with researchers, it had developed a method of producing high-quality protein from grasses. This at a time when war rationing had meant few consumer goods and, unless you had a good aim and could hit a kangaroo at 50 yards, you didn't have a lot of meat to feed your family.
The ministry reported that, effective immediately, the national government would pay five cents a bushel for any grasses, wild or domestic, brought to the ministry's laboratories in Canberra. Donors would also receive a coupon for each bushel delivered that could later be redeemed for four ounces of the new meat product, gamon - delicious roasted or fried, for dinner or lunch.
The broadcast was followed by a "commercial" featuring high-pitched children's voices begging their hapless, mother to please, please make them a gamon sandwich, and to hurry it up, they couldn't wait.
The result was overwhelming. The ABC switchboard was jammed with calls asking for details on how to deliver the grass. People with more gumption didn't wait to call - thousands of them descended on the steps of Parliament, or at the ministry's office on Adelaide Avenue, with sacks, boxes, rickety trucks, anything they could get their hands on, stuffed with grass.
When bewildered civil servants explained they had no idea what the grass collection was all about, furious grass collectors dumped the fruits of their labour on laps, heads, desks, hallways and stairs. It was a good joke - until the government threatened to sue ABC. The radio station hastily issued an apology and employees were dispatched to clean up the grassy mess.