Opinion: Recalling some great pranks


Someone brought up the subject of pranks. There had been some doozies pulled over the years, we agreed.

Like the Australian millionaire who announced in 1978 that he was going to tow an iceberg up from Antarctica, cut it into ice cubes and sell them for 10 cents apiece. Thousands lined up when the giant white monolith was floated into Sydney Harbor. Then it started raining and the berg – made of firefighting foam and shaving cream – melted as they watched. The millionaire was caught red-handed with thousands of pounds of ice cubes he had secretly purchased for the event.

Or when Burger King announced a new left-handed burger. All the ingredients were the same as the regular burger, the restaurant chain said, just rotated 180 degrees. Thousands lined up to order the new burger.

And who could forget the 1957 spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland? The newspaper ran a photo of the family picking pasta from the tree in their back yard. Hundreds wrote in asking how to grow their own. The answer: Put a sprig of spaghetti into a small glass of tomato sauce and place on a sunny windowsill.

Of course, most of us were old enough to admit a few of our own. One morning a Crosley car showed up on the third floor of my high school. It sat there for a full week while school officials tried to figure out how it got there and how to get it down. It wasn’t until they announced plans to remove a large window and hire a crane that the pranksters brought back the boards they had rolled it up the stairs on.

The football team graciously volunteered to roll it back down. A good deed, they called it. No one ever admitted to the prank.

Students and faculty of the University of Missouri in Columbia were stunned one morning in the 1950s to see a Volkswagen Beetle perched atop one of the fabled three-story high columns on the campus. No one could figure out how it got up there. It reportedly sat there quietly for several days. Then one morning it was gone, leaving no clue as to how it was removed.

Rumors at the time said a number of engineering students got extra credit for accomplishing a difficult but unspecified special project.

I’m not the pranking type, but I almost convinced my great-granddaughter that the large white hay bales in a local farm field were giant marshmallows, recently harvested and awaiting shipment to the processing plant where they would be cut into one-inch cubes.

Almost convinced, that is.