After a recent conversation I was reminded of the numerous practical jokes I have carried out over the years. A quick scan around the Internet doesn’t actually reveal a particularly good selection of cheap harmless pranks to play on friends so I thought I’d share some of my favourites
The cheesecake wash cloth
One of my school mates used to have regular house parties at his student place in Nottingham. His parties were always legendary, and there were always pranks going on. One prank that exceeded all expectations was the cheesecake scouring cloth. I had wanted to batter and deep fry something random for a while and leave it to be found, but I couldn’t find anything that really seemed to work. Since I’d already set up the oil I eventually decided to just batter and fry the washing up scourer. The next hurdle was the batter — there wasn’t anything ideal to use, so i resorted to crushing up a bag of crisps and mixing them in with egg. The scourer proved easy to batter and with so little mass (and no water) to it, it fried to a lovely crisp light-brown in well under a minute. Fairly pleased with the outcome I placed it on a small plate on the kitchen sideboard, tidied up and went to bed.
The next morning (or possibly afternoon) I got up to amused conversation in the kitchen. Upon my arrival I found the scourer had been spotted by my poor-sighted host when he had got up an hour or so earlier. With bleary eyes and totally unrealistic optimism he had identified my creation as a cheese-cake and had cut into it hoping to have some. Obviously cutting it open revealed it’s true identity, so kudos to him for owning up later. Of course I replaced the items I had used (½ bottle oil, 1 egg, 1 pack crisps, 1 scourer) and everyone saw the funny side. If you are used to deep frying, are not drunk, and have an electric (not gas) hob with which to do the deed I can highly recommend some random frying.
Possibly my favourite prank of all time was the frozen keys. After the success of the deep frying prank I had always wanted to batter and deep fry a set of keys (and then restore them to their location), with batter applied. However, my friend was now wise to the possibilities of battering and frying and kept a far closer eye on things. Figuring innovation was required I decided to go back to an old classic — freezing random things. This had started years before with random objects placed in the freezer. I decided to take it to the next level — I wanted a solid block of ice, with the keys frozen inside. When next my friend invited us for a party I was ready. I prepared an ice cram tub which I filled to about 1 inch with water and put it in my own freezer overnight. I took this, and a bag of supermarket ice cubes to the party. Quite late on I was able to locate his keys and set about the task. First I settled the keys onto the 1″ ice layer, right in the centre of the tub. Then i pack around and on top of them with some of the ice cubes I had bought. Finally I popped the lid onto the tub, except at the one short edge, through which I filled the tub with water. Finally, I sealed the lid on and buried the ice cream tub in the freezer amongst other desert items to avoid suspicion. After that I just had to wait. I am sorry to say I wasn’t staying over on this occasion so was unable to witness the outcome first hand, however I am assured by my friend’s ex girlfriend that the entire ice-cream tub was a solid block of ice, with the keys beautifully presented in the centre. I gather from my friend that it took a hammer and a kettle full of boiling water to liberate the keys the next morning. Happily nothing was harmed and he incurred no costs, so all in all, it was an ideal prank. Some day I hope to repeat the prank and will try to get a photo.
I have to start by giving credit for this to another school mate of mine. We were on holiday in Crete and there had been a few pranks when this gem was invented. Several (but not all) of us were going on a boat trip to Spinalonga, and one of the people not going decided this would be an ideal opportunity to carry out a suncream prank. So, the night before he carefully uncapped the suncream of another mate, and added a small (marble size or less) quantity of toothpaste. All went to plan, and the next day, were all on board the boat when the victim decided it was time for a fresh application of suncream. After 2–3 minutes of furious rubbing he enquired whether we had any idea what was wrong — why did he suncream smell minty, and why wouldn’t it rub in. After much laughter we told him, knowing we were safe from reprisals. Of course we also lent him some functional suncream as well. The sight of him looking like a ghost and smelling like a mint factory was absolutely priceless, just be warned that the whole bottle of suncream will be ruined, so be prepared to replace it!
The solid toothbrush was a direct retaliation to the minted suncream above. The victim of the suncream was quite keen to return the favour to the perpetrator but after a couple of days had been unable to think of a suitable retaliation and so I was brought in as “consultant”. I had noticed that the original prankster liked to brush his teeth after a night out in the local bars, so I settled on a toothbrush (or toothpaste) related prank, which seemed fitting given the first prank. After a little more thought it occured to me that the hot climate of Crete (over 30C in summer) was ideal for a glue based prank as superglue could be relied upon to dry quickly and to set very solid in a relatively short period of time. Superglue based pranks should always be approached with care. So, one afternoon whilst the original prankster was down at the beach we retaliated. We took the toothbrush and covered it with lots of superglue on the bristles and put it out of sight in a warm spot to dry (out of sight so it couldn’t be accidentally used whilst wet). After a few hours when we were certain it was dry and solid we restored it to it’s original location. Superglue being transparent the toothbrush looked entirely normal unless inspected very closely. That night we returned from the bars and each went to our separate rooms. No more than 3 minutes later the new victim came banging on my door demanding to know what I had done to his toothbrush. I, of course, was able to deny carrying out the crime and the next day was able to get the full story. He had put toothpaste onto his tooth brush as usual and popped it into his mouth to start brushing. As soon as he tried to brush over his teeth however he found the brush was set as solid as a rock and he was unable to brush his teeth at all — a perfect result, just make sure there is a local shop which sells replacement toothbrushes.
The hot cornflakes
One of my favourite go-to type of pranks is the cereal based prank, and this was one of my top 2 results. One of my friends always likes to have a large bowl of crunchynut cornflakes for breakfast and I had noticed how similar the little nut pieces are in size and colour to chilli seeds. Before the next house party I bough a small bag of dried chillis and broken them up, extracting and setting aside the chilli seeds. During the party I carefully dropped a small handful (a couple hundred) chilli seeds into the cereal bag and gave it a gentle shake before returning it to the cupboard. The next morning as usual my friend poured himself a large bowl and then without spotting anything amiss loaded up generously with milk. I watched him munch through the bowl with growing amazement (and disappointment) right up until he had finished. I was just about to reveal my failure when he started to look a bit confused. 10 seconds later he was running to the kitchen to pour a large glass of soothing milk. I had forgotten about the soothing power of the milk, which had masked my prank throughout the whole breakfast. Once he had finished it had taken just a few seconds for the fire to kick in. 10 minutes (and a few pints of milk) all was ok again. Or at least I should say he was able to speak again. A great result, and it only cost me a box of replacement cereal and a packet of dried chillis.
There are various flour-based pranks, with basic “antiquing” even making it onto the TV show Jackass several years back. I prefer my variant to that featured on Jackass as they simply threw flour at each other when sleeping which was a bit to aggressive for my style. The simple improvement in my version leads to someone effectively ‘antiquing’ themselves. Find a poster or some other paper, ideally something stuck around the house. Unstick it from the wall, put some flour on the back and then stick it to the ceiling. When the victim notices the poster on the ceiling they will assume that it is a poor prank and will detach a corner, leading to the flour to slide down onto them.
The shaving bag
One of the first pranks that ever occured in our social group was in the early days of university. 3 of us were visiting a friend who was at university in Leeds. One of our mates got especially drunk, but still just about managed to crawl into his sleeping bag before passing out. We waited a few minutes and then used his shaving foam to fill out his sleeping bag around him. It didn’t appear to prevent him from sleeping solidly, and proved doubly amusing in the morning when he started talking to us about how after a night out he often feels greasy and he named this phenomenon “clubbing grease”. After several minutes of crying with laughter he eventually realised his can of shaving foam was empty and the reality slowly dawned on him. A classic.
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