1400s: The haunted snack
Thomas Betson, the prankster-monk, pulls off one of the earliest documented practical jokes when he hides a beetle inside a hollowed-out apple and fools his fellow monks into believing that the mysteriously rocking apple is possessed. Find out more about the mysterious origins of April Fool’s Day.
1835: Lunar life
iStock/Sjoerd van der Wal
The Great Moon Hoax is the first big media trick. The New York Sun prints an article claiming that astronomers have discovered life on the moon. More articles appear over the next few weeks, and the country is gripped by moon fever.