Top Ten Pranks from the Trading Floor

In honour of April Fools’ Day (which is coming up next week, so time to be on your guard), we decided to take a look at the pranks the Old Chicago Pit Floor guys were notorious for.

You probably already know that historically, traders enjoyed playing tricks on their colleagues to blow off steam and diffuse a bit of tension – not just on April Fools’ Day, but all year round.

You might be relieved to hear this famous humour has subsided in recent years, so you can look back on the pranks of the past without worrying about which of them you might fall victim of! Here’s our rundown of the Top Ten Pranks from the Trading Floor…

1. Rotten eggs

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 09.01.03At NYMEX, if an unsuspecting trader left his jacket lying around, another trader would secretly put a rotten egg in his pocket. He would then watch as his colleague wondered where the horrible smell was coming from…

We think it’s an eggs-cellent prank (sorry).

2. Inflated ego

One NYSE trader was the victim of a prank after his colleagues decided he was getting a bit too big for his boots. One summer, he took to wearing a white straw bowler hat to work (so he probably only had himself to blame).

His colleagues, fed up with his inflating ego, bought several of the same hats in decreasing sizes, and swapped his hat for a smaller one once a week to prove his head was swelling out of control.

3. Nonexistent keys

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 09.01.55Interns weren’t safe, either. A favourite trick for traders to play on them was to ask them to go and find the keys to the clearinghouse.

The eager-to-please intern would then run around searching for the keys, asking anyone they passed where to find them. What they didn’t know was that the clearinghouse didn’t exist…

4. Gum bombs

The Gum bomb prank was a favourite of traders in the Chicago pits.

It involved sticking a wad of chewed up gum to the back of a trading ticket, and dropping it to the floor, where it would lie in wait for an unsuspecting trader who’d find himself in a sticky situation…

5. Toy cars

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 09.02.50The floor traders’ mesh jackets were also a target for pranks. A popular trick at NYSE was to sneak up behind a trader and put a paperclip with a long piece of string attached on the back of the trader’s jacket.

At the end of the fifteen-foot piece of string would be a toy car, which the unknowing trader would spend the rest of the day wheeling around behind him.

6. Lottery win

One poor trader who played the lottery religiously fell victim to a particularly cruel prank. He would keep a stack of his lottery tickets on his desk, so one day, the other traders on the floor put a ticket with the winning numbers from the day before in his stack of tickets.

The lottery-loving trader thought he’d finally hit the jackpot – until he checked the date on the ticket…

7. Shark fin

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 09.03.58At the CBOT, the traditional prank was to fold trading cards into the shape of a fin before sliding it under someone’s collar to make it look like they had a fin on their back.

Then, as they walked down the floor, everyone would scream “SHARK!!”

Pinning tails to the bottom of trader’s jackets was another favourite.

8. The shoulder tap

Sometimes the simplest pranks are the best. The best way to wind up your boss on the trading floor was to stand on his left, and then tap his right shoulder (preferably while he was having an important conversation).

We bet that went down well…

9. Baby powder bomb

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 09.04.54Traders’ notoriously shiny shoes were also a target for pranks. NYSE traders would sneak up behind traders on a packed trading floor and shake baby powder all over their shoes.

This would usually result in the trader doing a silly dance to try and keep the powder off their newly shined shoes…

10. Pie in the face

We bet traders kept their birthdays quiet on the floor, because if they didn’t, they’d likely find themselves victim to the notorious birthday prank.

Traders would buy their unsuspecting colleague a birthday cake (the messier the better) and sing ‘Happy Birthday’. Then, when the birthday boy turned away, he’d find himself hit in the face with the cake.

Apparently, one particularly unpopular trader found himself with a face full of cake three times on the same birthday…

Share your funny trading pranks with us by tweeting us @LittlefishFX or email us here

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