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An April Fool's food fest

When most of us think about April Fool’s Day, our thoughts turn to playing tricks on our friends and loved ones; but few of us actually are aware of the history of this infamous day. And one reason is that the origins of this day, also called All Fool’s Day, is not totally clear.April Fool’s Day is neither an American holiday nor invention by the greeting card companies. In fact, it's one of

When most of us think about April Fool’s Day, our thoughts turn to playing tricks on our friends and loved ones; but few of us actually are aware of the history of this infamous day. And one reason is that the origins of this day, also called All Fool’s Day, is not totally clear.

April Fool’s Day is neither an American holiday nor invention by the greeting card companies. In fact, it's one of the few multi-cultural holidays that evolved from the celebration of the first day of spring. A scan of the folklore of the day reveals most historians agree that the April Fool’s tradition began in France most likely in 1582, when the new year was an eight day celebration beginning on March 25 and ending on April 1. That year, Charles IX introduced the Gregorian Calendar and the beginning of the new year was moved to January 1. It took a number of years for the ‘new’ new year date to be established, and those who either were unaware or chose to continue to celebrate the event on April 1 were labeled as “fools” and subject to ridicule and practical jokes.

In time all French citizens came to celebrate new years on January 1, but the tradition of practical jokes on April 1 continued and spread in the 18th century to England and Scotland and was brought across the Atlantic to the Thirteen Colonies.

In Scotland, April Fool’s Day is a major celebration. Taking place over a two-day period, the second day is called Taily Day, and is devoted to jokes centered around the “posterior” part of one’s body; and is thought to be the origin of the ‘kick me’ sign placed on the back of unsuspecting victims. We can only surmise that this is also where the conception of the phrase, “the butt of one’s joke” truly began.

April Fool’s Day is one of the few holidays that are not celebrated with the closing of schools or offices, the giving of gifts or greeting cards, nor long waits for reservations at famous restaurants.

But what’s a holiday without its own unique cuisine?

So, I’ve put together my own April Fool’s foods and will try to fool the taste buds of my "Today" show taste testers: Katie, Matt, Ann and Al.

Here’s my list of foods that are not what they seem, and each of the brand’s contact information, so you can have your own April Fool’s Food Fantasy:

Like Turkey? Think TOFURKY!

The Tofurky Roast is a pre-cooked vegetarian feast that is made from a revolutionary tofu-wheat protein blend, Tofurky is known for its turkey-like texture and flavor. Our April Fool’s taste test includes the Tofurky Roast (made with organic non-GMO soybeans), eight Cranberry Apple Potato Dumplings, Tofurky Giblet Gravy, Herbed brown and Wild Rice Stuffing, Tofurky Jurky Wishstix. Tofurky is 100% vegan, cooks in about 40 minutes and serves four.

Tofurky products - www.tofurky.com

Great Italian ravioli that doesn’t contain ricotta cheese?

Just wait till our taste testers try Fratelli tofu pesto ravioli! Perfect for those who want to increase their soy consumption or just want to have a dairy-free entrée.

Fratelli Ravioli - www.fratelliravioli.com  

How about a grilled almond cheese sandwich?

Well, before you crinkle up your nose at the thought, take a bite of these soy, almond and rice based cheeses that come in mozzarella, cheddar and American cheese flavors. Made with Canola oil, these cheeses are low in fat and sodium, high in calcium and protein and contain no cholesterol, no trans fats and no saturated fat.

Lisanatti Soy-Sastion Cheese Alternative – www.lisanatticheese.com

Perfect for those who have nut allergies, it's soy nuts!

These dry roasted, honey roasted and garlic salted soy nuts are non-GMO (genetically modified) and certified Kosher.

Dakota Gourmet – www.dakotagourmet.com

Skip the cup o’ joe, and sip a cup of soy coffee!

This coffee substitute is made from certified organic soy beans and slow roasted for maximum coffee flavor. This beverage is caffeine free and is both gluten and wheat free.

Soy Coffee LLC - www.soycoffee.com

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Only on TODAY.MSNBC.com!

Food Editor Phil Lempert brings you the latest news and advice about shopping and cooking.

falseOrder scrambled eggs – “but hold the eggs”!

Egg beaters are actually made from real eggs, but just the whites with vitamins and nutrients added that would normally be found in the yolk. Egg Beaters are fat free, cholesterol free and less than half the calories. Colored yellow naturally by using beta-carotene, this egg alternative tastes very close to whole eggs.

Egg Beaters - www.eggbeaters.com

And as BBQ season nears, you may want to think about “fakin it”

Smart Bacon is low fat (1.5 grams for 2 slices), has zero cholesterol, no nitrites or MSG and tastes remarkably good. Smart Dogs was the world’s first FAT FREE hot dog. Real hot dog flavor with all the snap of a meat frank… without the fat, calories, nitrites.

Lightlife Foods - www.lightlife.com

And probably the best food prank of all time is Mock Turtle Soup!

In the tradition of the English, here's a version of Mock Turtle Soup, which is intended to imitate the taste of turtle soup. Being that sea turtles are an endangered species and when they were not endangered the meat was extremely expensive, recipes like this one have been enjoyed by those missing the real thing. The traditional version of Mock Turtle Soup uses a calf's head along with seasonings and sherry or some other wine. There are many different ways to make Mock Turtle Soup with everything from oxtails to gingersnaps.

For those who don't relish the thought of boiling a calf head, here's a simpler version.

Mock Turtle SoupPhil Lempert

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium.

Brown onions and then add the meat and brown slightly.

Add spices and herbs.

Stir in flour until it bubbles.

Add the 10 cups of meat stock and bring to a boil.

Add the tomatoes.

Cover pot and let it simmer for one to two hours.

Serve hot with egg crumbles mixed in, a teaspoon of sherry, and lemon slices on the side.  Sprinkle fresh parsley over top.

Serves 10.

912292039593381335455426560olive oil0.5cup1/2 cup of olive oilbeef2pound2 pounds chopped beef (it can be an inexpensive cut such as sirloin)clove11 garlic clove, mashedonion1cup1 cup of chopped onionthyme0.25teaspoon1/4 teaspoon of thymebay leaf11 bay leafallspice0.25teaspoon1/4 teaspoon of allspiceflour1tablespoon1 tablespoon of flourtomatoes1cup1 cup of chopped peeled tomatoesmeat stock10cup10 cups of meat stockSalt and pepperSalt and pepper to tasteeggs22 hard-boiled eggs, chopped fineLemon slicesLemon slicesSherrySherryparsley0.5cup1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley

Want to know more about Phil and food? Visit his Web site at www.supermarketguru.com, or you can contact Phil directly by e-mail at: Phil.Lempert@NBC.com