Think the hilarity of 'viral jokes' are confined to today's modern internet obsessed generation? Sure, the internet has made it vastly easier for jokes to spread around the world like wildfire but way before keyboard playing cats...
...and doge speak there were still plenty of jokes that spread globally, despite the absence of WhatsApp and Photoshop.
As you can probably imagine, 'pranking' has always been a beloved pastime of many, but it may surprise you to learn that April Fools' Day has been around since the 1500s. That's a LONG time. It seems we've always enjoyed making our beloved pals look as moronic as possible. Suddenly it makes sense that You've Been Framed has a been a prime time show for nearly 25 years and still pays £250 for videos of people tripping up at weddings - we just love seeing people look stupid.
One such popular viral from the days before Google hoaxes and spaghetti trees was 'The Great Tom Collins Hoax of 1874'.
The Tom Collins hoax was beautifully simple (remember kids, simple spreads!) and is said to have originated in Pennsylvania or New York in 1874. The exact starting point is debated, but let's not start a Ross vs Chandler Playboy joke style argument.
The joke went that friends would pick a victim when out boozing and they'd tell them that 'Tom Collins' had been bad-mouthing them at a local bar. The victim wouldn't know anyone called Tom Collins, so the friends could go to town and be as elaborate as possible describing all the terrible things he'd been saying about their friend. 'Tom Collins' may have been publicly accusing the victim of theft, fraud, extramarital affairs, a general lack of personal hygiene....whatever it would be that would rile the victim enough to want to lamp him, essentially. Then, when the victim was suitably angry enough for full on fisticuffs, the friends would say that 'Tom Collins' was drinking at a bar around the corner and the victim would head off in a rage ready for his revenge.
But ''Tom Collins' didn't exist. IT WAS A ALL A BRILLIANT JOKE.
The rage filled victim would arrive at the nearby bar and ask the barman for a Tom Collins and at this point - HILARIOUSLY - the barman would make him the lemony gin based cocktail we all know and love today. Presumably the friends who'd been winding him up would all then appear 'ta-dah!' style and they'd all roll about in fits of laughter.
Yeah, it might not be the world's funniest joke, but we're still drinking them so those 19th Century pranksters got something right! And the gin presumably made it all seem funnier. (Gin does seem to do that).
Bizarrely though, it wasn't just laddy banter that got the Tom Collins hoax spreading around the US and beyond, national newspapers did their bit too. Yep, newspapers were actually printing stories about that dastardly Tom Collins and his whereabouts, telling local people to keep an eye out for his trash talking ways!
Pennsylvania, 30 June 1874
It may not be the best prank in the world, but I know I'll be ordering a Tom Collins as my April Fools' Day tipple of choice. Gin, lemon juice, sugar and soda? You'd be a fool to miss out.