March 31, 2011

April Fool's Day - How, and Where in the World, Did the Fun Begin?

On this day in 1700, English pranksters begin popularizing the annual tradition of April Fools' Day by playing practical jokes on each other.

Although the day, also called All Fools' Day, has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, its exact origins remain a mystery. Some historians speculate that April Fools' Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. These included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as "poisson d'avril" (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.

Historians have also linked April Fools' Day to ancient festivals such as Hilaria, which was celebrated in Rome at the end of March and involved people dressing up in disguises. There's also speculation that April Fools' Day was tied to the vernal equinox, or first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, when Mother Nature fooled people with changing, unpredictable weather.

April Fools' Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. In Scotland, the tradition became a two-day event, starting with "hunting the gowk," in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool) and followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people's derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or "kick me" signs on them.

In modern times, people have gone to great lengths to create elaborate April Fools' Day hoaxes. Newspapers, radio and TV stations and Web sites have participated in the April 1 tradition of reporting outrageous fictional claims that have fooled their audiences. In 1957, the BBC reported that Swiss farmers were experiencing a record spaghetti crop and showed footage of people harvesting noodles from trees; numerous viewers were fooled. In 1985, Sports Illustrated tricked many of its readers when it ran a made-up article about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour. In 1996, Taco Bell, the fast-food restaurant chain, duped people when it announced it had agreed to purchase Philadelphia's Liberty Bell and intended to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell. In 1998, after Burger King advertised a "Left-Handed Whopper," scores of clueless customers requested the fake sandwich.

(Source: The History Channel website. Retrieved March 31, 2011, from

The beautiful weather here in Arizona has been absolutely ideal for grabbing the leash and taking the dog out for a morning walk or run. Upon return, Kokopelli's Kitchen recommends restoring your energy with some healthy granola that you've made yourself. It's a good source of fiber and vitamins - the best is baked organic, with no added sugar. Unfortunately though, a lot of the granola found for sale on the store shelves today is not a healthy food due to an overabundance of sugar and chocolate pieces.
The recipes that we've selected are from the "Western Breakfast and Brunch Recipes" Cookbook by Bruce & Bobbi Fischer. Permission to print granted by Golden West Publishers, 4113 N. Longview, Phoenix, AZ 85014.

Fourteener's Granola
Compliments of Virginia Nemmers, Innkeeper, River Run Inn Bed & Breakfast, Salida Colorado. Take a step back in time by joining Virginia at this 1892 National Historic Inn. You can enjoy a relaxing sunset on the spacious front porch then awaken to a delicious breakfast. Nancy tells us she has missed and adapted this recipe from many others to bring to you the best tasting granola in the Southwest!
  • 4 cups ROLLED OATS
  • ¼ cup BROWN SUGAR
  • 2 tsp. CINNAMON
  • ½ cup chopped WALNUTS 
  • ½ cup chopped SUNFLOWER SEEDS
  • ½ cup ORANGE JUICE
  • 2 tbsp. HONEY
  • 2 tbsp. VANILLA
  • ½ cup RAISINS
  • ½ cup chopped dried CRANBERRIES
  • ½ cup chopped dried APRICOTS  

In a large bowl, mix together oats, sugar, cinnamon, walnuts and sunflower seeds. Place orange juice, honey and vanilla in a microwaveable bowl and heat for one minute or just until honey is liquefied and mixture can be blended. Pour orange juice mixture over oat mixture and stir well to coat. Spread in a large baking pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes (stir every 10 minutes) or until mixture is golden brown. Remove from oven and add raisins, cranberries and apricots. Cool well before storing in a plastic container in refrigerator.

Downey House Granola
Compliments of Downey House Bed & Breakfast, La Conner, Washington. This granola can be served with milk, over yogurt, or over hot applesauce. For a tasty desert, add whipped cream to applesauce and sprinkle with granola.
  • 4 cups ROLLED OATS
  • 2/3 cup WHEAT GERM
  • 6 tbsp. SESAME SEEDS
  • 6 tbsp. shelled SUNFLOWER SEEDS
  • ½ cup chopped RAW CASHEWS or sliced ALMONDS
  • 2/3 cup CORN OIL
  • 1/3 cup HONEY
  • 1 tsp. VANILLA
  • ¼ tsp. SALT
  • ½ cup chopped DRIED FRUIT, or RAISINS
Mix first six ingredients together in a large bowl. In a saucepan, combine corn oil, honey, vanilla and salt. Cook over low heat until honey is melted. Pour over dry mixture and blend thoroughly. Spread on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Cool and add fruit. Store in freezer in zip lock bags for ready use.