by Shmuel Ross
On April 1, 1996, readers of newspapers including the New York Times were met with a full-page advertisement announcing that Taco Bell had purchased the Liberty Bell; the bell was henceforth to be known as the Taco Liberty Bell. "While some may find this controversial," the advertisement said, "we hope our move will prompt other corporations to take similar action to do their part to reduce the country's debt." Some took this seriously, with many people calling the home of the Liberty Bell in Philadephia to protest, and some were offended. Others appreciated the joke. White House spokesperson Mike McCurry even played along, saying that the government also planned to sell the Lincoln Memorial to Ford Motor Company, which would rename it the Lincoln-Mercury Memorial.
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On April 1, 1998, Burger King placed a full-page ad in USA Today announcing a new product: Left-Handed Whoppers. These burgers, specially designed for left-handed people, were supposed to be the same as regular Whoppers, but with "all condiments rotated 180 degrees, thereby redistributing the weight of the sandwich so that the bulk of the condiments will skew to the left, thereby reducing the amount of lettuce and other toppings from spilling out the right side of the burger." Thousands of customers requested the new product, with some asking for a "right-handed" version instead.Driving the Joke Home
The BMW auto company has an annual tradition of placing full-page April Fools' Day advertisements in Great Britain, describing technical breakthroughs. One year they advertised the "Toot and Calm Horn" T.C.H. system, the sound of which calmed drivers down, rather than making them upset. Another year, they announced front windows that bugs would bounce off of when hit. Other innovations include a tiny windshield-wiper to keep the car's BMW logo clean, and a car with no steering wheel, operating with a combination of eye-monitoring and voice controls.