april fools 2023

These were the best and worst April Fools' Day pranks in Toronto this year

With April Fools' Day falling on a weekend in 2023, many Toronto residents were able to dream right on through what can often be a confusing and tumultuous morning for the gullible.

The usual suspects came out to play at the national level as expected; Tim Hortons pranked us with square Timbits, Kraft faked the retirement of its iconic peanut butter bears, and Swiss Chalet introduced an entire self-care line.

Locally, however, some of the biggest players from years past (Beck Taxi, WestJet, the TTC) were conspicuously absent on April 1, 2023 — which may have been smart, given how people reacted to what the Toronto Police Service did.

Just as many knees were slapped as eyes were rolled, regardless, thanks to some creative Toronto organizations, brands and celebrity offspring. In no particular order, here were a handful of the city's best and worst April Fools' Day pranks this year.

Sarah Polley loses her Oscar

Acclaimed Toronto writer, director and actor Sarah Polley was momentarily dismayed on April 1 to receive a letter, signed by former Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president David Rubin, stating that her recent Oscar win for Women Talking had been a mistake.

Polley caught on quick, however, after noting that the letter had clearly been formatted by an 11-year-old kid.

Toronto Police announce fake speed-detection tool

While the entire internet got a kick out of what Polley's kid pulled off, many Torontonians were annoyed by a "joke" video posted to Twitter by Toronto Police Constable Sean Shapiro, who specializes in traffic safety.

"I'm excited to announce that police are now able to utilize Automated Enforcement Technology to help make our roads safer," wrote the officer when sharing a video of another cop explaining the new fake service. "This speed camera is capable of capturing speed and vehicle data across all lanes simultaneously."

TTCriders spoof blogTO article

Toronto's busy public transit advocacy group mocked up their own fake blogTO article announcing 20 new bus lanes and free transit fares. While a fun attempt by the group, our actual April Fools' Day post this year was entitled "Leaked document reveals Toronto will pursue bid to secede from Ontario."

We may not have fooled everyone, but many commenters did seem to support the idea of Toronto forming its own province. It's safe to say that even more would love the idea of free public transit.

Toronto Wildlife Centre discovers 'creamsicle bird'

"This is the rarest animal ever to be admitted to TWC!" wrote the registered charity on Saturday morning, sharing a photo of an orange pigeon previously spotted around the city. "Commonly known as creamsicle birds, Columba aurantiacus are closely related to rock pigeons. Their bright colour is a clear indication to predators that this bird is poisonous."

The wildlife rescue organization later clarified on Twitter that "although the species may be fake, this patient is 100 per cent real! The poor bird (who is a regular pigeon) was dyed orange. Now at TWC, he’s receiving the best care."

Toronto FC player tries to prank teammate

Cute as the resulting video was, we're going to have to file this attempted prank under "worst," simply because it didn't work. Or rather, if it did work, nobody saw how it played out after Federico Bernardeschi filled Víctor Vázquez's car with plastic balls.

The latter athlete simply left practice early, foiling Bernardeschi's big reveal.

The SPACE's smoking toilet

Listen, I like an elaborate prank more than anybody — trust me — but simplicity can be as hilarious as it is elegant. Some simple toilet decorations were all it took to get me howling from The SPACE, a Danforth Avenue dance studio that clearly likes to have fun.

"We had some issues in the bathrooms today - the toilets were smoking!" wrote the company on Saturday in a tweet that's racked up only 19 views as of Monday. Here's to hoping more people see and get a kick out of the easy April Fools' Day prank so that it can be repeated in bathrooms across Toronto next year.

Waterfront BIA reminisces on whale sighting

"Did you know that a whale was spotted on the waterfront 36 years ago?" wrote the Toronto Waterfront BIA on Instagram Saturday morning, sharing a very exciting (yet ultimately fake) image of someone walking alongside a whale's tale. "To this day, Toronto still doesn't know how the whale got into Lake Ontario."

No Frills' AI-generated grocery list

I wouldn't call this one of the best or worst pranks of 2023, but it is one of the most-obvious and timely. The Loblaw-owned company spent some money on this one, too, developing an actual microsite for the project.

"Writing grocery lists is sooooooo last year. Generate yours with Grocery_AI, THE new leap in grocery technology from NOFRILLS," wrote the brand when sharing a video promoting the service, which did generate a real list for me that ended in four "bananas" and the words "April Fools."

Shacklands Brewing Co.'s poutine beer

It wouldn't be April Fools' Day without a disgusting-sounding concoction from Toronto's Shacklands brewery, and it wouldn't be a blogTO list without something food related, so please enjoy trying not to vomit while reading about this "salt and pepper gose... made with copious amounts of fried potato, fine cheese curd, and Frank's famous veggie gravy."

Honourable mentions from the 6ix and beyond go to MEC for its zipline pants, Western Standard for throwing Jordan Peterson into a tizzy, and this guy's kids.

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