The April Fool that wouldn't die: How we accidentally pranked the Internet for years
In 2010, we wrote an April Fools' Day story about a chocolate-hating, time-traveling man named Eloi Cole. And then things got out of hand.
Richard TrenholmFormer Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
The article immediately struck a chord. Readers enjoyed spotting the references to classic time travel stories dotted through the story, and Cole's dire warnings about the "communist chocolate hellhole" of the future went down well. Throughout the day, people read, commented on and shared the story on social networks. All in good fun, we thought. Job well done.
April Fools' Day came and went, but the story didn't. The following day, and for the rest of the week, the story continued to attract vast numbers of readers and commenters.
Watch this: Fact or fool: Can you tell the pranks from the real gadgets?
Despite loads of comments pointing out the "Back to the Future" and "Doctor Who" references and highlighting the date it was posted, some readers seemed to take the story rather more seriously. Some warned of the dangers of the LHC. Others hailed Cole as a hero. Conspiracy theorists loved it, discussing wormholes and government cover-ups. And KitKats.
When the story exploded again in February 2012, our boss made us put "April Fool" in the headline to drive home the point. But the more, shall we say, "open-minded" commenters responded that this was a classic media tactic to hide the truth -- the truth the ESTABLISHMENT doesn't want YOU to KNOW.