• sylviacumming


Sometime in the late 1970s I ran across a clever April Fool’s prank idea, possibly in a magazine for teens, or it could even have been published in a women’s magazine whose editor was feeling somewhat vengeful. The article was titled something like, “CLEVER PRANK IDEAS FOR APRIL FOOL’S DAY.” Most of the ideas were gently harmless, but this one had possibilities. And in those carefree days when seatbelts were optional and people actually answered their phones, no one thought twice about a prank that involved biting into cotton balls.

It was a deviously simple prank. I’ve pulled it twice; once in 1981, and a second time at a different company in 2008. (My departure from the first company was unrelated to this prank.) (So was my departure from the second company...)

The first time, it took me a while to get up the nerve to put it into action, but once I decided to do it, it just took a little time the night before to set it up. I’d waited two years, until I was feeling secure enough at work and finally had a little seniority. And I had a manager with a sense of humor.

Cotton-ball truffles are exactly what they sound like. Round, truffle-shaped cotton balls coated with chocolate, placed artistically on a plate. They look amazing, just like those expensive chocolates with delicious fillings that cost an arm and a leg. Except that when the unsuspecting victim bites into it, the cotton crinkles between their teeth. And their reaction is different, too.

So, I put them on a nice plate and took them to work and told everyone my grandma had made them, but that I was on a diet so I brought them in for everyone else to eat. Why no one got suspicious that the only time I brought food in to share was on April 1st, I’ll never know.

The only person who’s ever fallen for it more than once was the son of the owner of the first company I pulled this prank at. He ate the cotton balls. Or, maybe he pranked me back and said he did, just to get me back. Which was more cleverness than I gave him credit for. He was the kind of person who would eat cotton balls just because they were coated in chocolate.

The second time, that company’s owner’s son read me the riot act and told me it was not funny and to never do it again. I didn’t argue with him, and I kept a straight face, but it had been funny. Which is why I’d done it.

If you are tempted to make these, please be aware that cotton is not edible. I cannot even believe I just typed that last sentence, but clearly, given the reaction of the first owner’s son, some people need to know this. Per some internet sources, there is a genetically modified cotton that is, Lord help us all, edible. But all other cotton is not.

I have thought about pulling this prank once again for old time’s sake, but I will need to find a cotton-ball substitute just in case the first owner’s son is around. Any suggestions?



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