No one really knows how April Fools’ Day got started, but the first all-mobile survey exploring how Americans plan to observe it found that 63% of us are ready to pull pranks, play tricks, and tell fibs. If it’s true that knowledge is power, perhaps some of the information we collected from 300 respondents ages 17 and older will help you form a game plan for fending off the pranks of others, or for perpetrating your own.
- 38.1% of respondents who plan to play pranks said they will falsely announce a pregnancy, wedding engagement, or other major life event. Men and women were equally likely to say they’re plotting this sort of fib. “Spread fake news” was another popular falsehood – planned by 37.6%.
- Beware of people offering you food, especially if they’re women. 27% of respondents said they planned to trick victims into eating something that doesn’t taste the way it should, with 33.7% of women and 20.6% of men intending to weaponize edibles for an April Fools gag.
- Gird yourself against possible close encounters with creepy-crawlies. 33.9% of respondents planning pranks said they’d be deploying toy spiders, rats, snakes, etc., to get a rise out of their victims. Men stated a greater preference than women for fake vermin pranks, 37% to 29.3%.
- Whoopie cushions, handshake buzzers, and similar gag items haven’t gone out of fashion. 28% of our prank-intending respondents expect to embarrass victims with noisemaking devices.
- Creating chaos out of order has its fans: 19.6% of pranksters said they’ll re-organize someone’s office or cubicle without permission. 15.9% said they’ll cover pictures, screens and other surfaces people usually expect to be left alone.
- 35% of male pranksters and just 13% of women said they intend to play the “Circle Game” – Google it if you don’t know what it is, but it’s one of those little competitions that end with the loser having to tolerate a punch in the arm.
- “The safety of your own home” loses some of its meaning on April Fools’ Day. 79.4% of respondents planning pranks said they’d be executing them at home, compared to 39.7% at work. 54% said they plan to pull pranks while they’re with friends.
- Most April Foolers want to be eyewitnesses to their own mischief rather than relying on a communications device. 29.6% said they’d try to prank people by text message, 22.2% by social media, and 16.9% by telephone call.
- Friends (56.6%) and significant others (49.2%) are the most likely April Fools targets, trailed by parents (33.9%), siblings (32.8%), children (28%), and colleagues (21.2%). Only 3.2% of respondents who plan to pull pranks said they’ll be targeting someone they consider their nemesis. Women are significantly more likely than men to target a significant other (57.7% to 41.2%), while men have fewer qualms than women about April Fooling a friend (63.9% to 48.9%).
By and large, all this trickery, fibbing, and pranking is harmless. 58.7% of respondents said they’d never suffered any “bad consequences” from being targeted on April Fools’ Day, and 54.7% said they’d never experienced any bad consequences from perpetrating a trick. 58% of respondents said that they typically laugh when they’ve been April Fooled; very few reported ever becoming angry (5.3%) or brought to tears (2.0%). 27.3% said they retaliate by playing a prank on whoever pranked them.
Perhaps April Fools’ Day persists because it seldom results in real trauma. 6.0% of respondents said they’d suffered physical injury from being on the receiving end of a prank, and 8.0% said a relationship or friendship had been damaged because of what a prankster had done to them. Perpetrators of pranks reported similar results. 8.0% said they’d suffered a physical injury from carrying out a prank, and 7.0% reported that pranks they’d played had done real damage to a relationship or friendship. We also asked respondents to share memorable pranks they’d done or had done to them.
- The most ambitious: “I duct-taped all my friend’s furniture to his ceiling.”
- The liveliest: “Someone loaded my office with rabbits.”
- Some underscored the hazards of snacking on April Fools’ Day: Green food coloring in cereal bowls, vinegar in popsicles, mustard masquerading as icing, red hot peppers in whatever.
- The oddest: Replacing all the faces in framed family photos with a photo-shopped image of the distinctly non-glamorous actor, Wallace Shawn.
- And one that was way, way, way off base: “I came back from a doctor’s appointment and explained I had cancer and four months to live. My boyfriend started crying, and I couldn’t hold back the laughter.”
Thanks, we’ll take the bunnies. Here’s wishing everyone a fun, trauma-free April Fools’ Day!