Texas Living

April Fools’ Pranks of Texas Past

By Katie Stroh 3.31.23

It’s no secret Texans know how to have a good time and share some laughs, and April Fools’ Day is no exception. Plenty of Texans and Texas-based organizations like to get in on the fun whenever April 1 rolls around.

In honor of this year’s prank fest, we’re rounding up our favorite Texas-themed April Fools’ Day pranks and jokes from the past. Maybe they’ll inspire you to stage your very own Texan caper this April!

Houston Chronicle’s ‘Photoshop’ Fail

Let’s kick off the list with an April Fools’ Day prank from Texas history. Back on April 1, 1962, the Houston Chronicle published a doctored photo of the San Jacinto Monument in ruins in Texas Magazine.

The state’s largest monument — which is bigger than the Washington Monument! — hadn’t actually been reduced to rubble, of course. The satirical article that accompanied the shocking image called for maintenance funding for the monument, which commemorates the final battle in the Texas Revolution.

Rice University Students Turn the Tables

Fast-forward a few years to 1988, when a group of students at the prestigious Rice University in Houston managed to pull off one of the greatest campus pranks in history.

After years of planning and multiple failed attempts, the dozen or so students (some of whom were engineering majors) rotated the 2,000-pound bronze statue of university founder William Marsh Rice a full 180 degrees so it faced the campus library. Unsurprisingly, more than one of the mischievous but talented undergrads went on to successful careers in the startup world. Talk about true Texas ingenuity.

Whataburger-Scented Candles

Whataburger is to Texas as In-N-Out is to California, and Texans take immense pride in their regional burger chain of choice. Imagine their horror — and delight — when Whataburger announced their new line of scented candles on social media on April 1, 2019. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately?) for burger fans, the whole campaign was a joke.

The World’s Smallest Buc-ee’s

One classic April Fools’ Day prank doubles as a piece of modern art. West Texas has become an unexpected haven for artists and is perhaps best known for its Prada Marfa installation. But for a brief time in 2022, another example of what locals call Marathon’s “good-natured prankster” vibe popped up seemingly out of nowhere.

In the middle of the desert about 20 miles east of Marathon, Texas, stood a miniature Buc-ee’s station riffing on the original Prada Marfa sculpture. The anonymous artist who created the tiny pit stop told Texas Monthly they built the structure as a “light-hearted jab at Walmart/gas station hybrids and America’s propensity for ever-expanding excess.”

Leave it to Texans to raise pranksterism to an art form.

If you’re looking for another laugh, check out a few of the best Texas city slogans, and find out which town is known as “The Hippo Capital of Texas.”

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