Many consider April Fools’ Day the one day of the year when you should be skeptical about what you read on the Internet (though we think that’s a good rule of thumb for every day). Nevertheless, the First of April has emerged in recent years as an increasingly cumbersome display of one-upmanship, with media and tech companies plastering the Web with phony press releases and satirical blog posts, hoping there is someone left to catch off guard.
There are signs the tradition has reached critical mass. Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), whose past pranks included an olfactory app called Google Nose and a new “Treasure Mode” for Google Maps, followed up this year with the decidedly less inspired Gmail Shelfie, a new selfie-sharing platform. If you’re like us, you probably saw that one coming. Below are some April Fools shenanigans from companies you might have missed.
Kickstarter’s Name Change
The crowdfunding website announced plans to “return to its roots,” by reverting the company’s name back to its original spelling, “Kickstartr.” Apparently, the extra “e,” which was added in 2008, was too much for CEO Yancey Strickler. “The truth is, we never really got used to it,” Strickler writes in a blog post. “Kickstarter with an ‘e’ has looked weird to us since that day in 2008, but we felt fortunate to find a community that embraced us nonetheless. Now it’s time to stop pretending.” The logos on the Kickstarter website have been changed is well, probably for the entire day -- or until someone crowdfunds enough swag to buy a new one.
The ‘Normcore Diet’ On Bon Appétit
Self-conscious about eating in public? Bon Appétit magazine posted a slideshow of the new diet craze for “people who don’t want to stand out.” The purposely unadventurous culinary choices includes bread bowls, Taco Bell, yogurt from Pinkberry and, of course, bottled water. “We’re 70 percent water, so what could be more normal that that?” asks writer Norman Korr. (Norman Korr -- get it?) One assumes this is a satirical sendup of a recent fashion “trend” christened by New York magazine and mocked extensively since. Watch the Bon Appétit slideshow here.
WNYC: Donald Trump Saves Citi Bike
WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” aired a segment that’s almost crazy enough to be true. New York City’s cash-strapped Citi Bike program might have a savior in none other than Donald Trump. If New Yorkers have adapted to seeing Citibank logos on public-use bicycles across the city, would the sight of “Trump Wheels” finally push them over the edge? Fortunately, this is only a joke. We just hope it doesn’t give the real Trump any ideas.
‘FreeFood’ From Freelancer.com
Freelancer.com announced via blog post that it is launching a new line of energy bars called FreeFood, “formulated specifically for today’s up-and-coming businesspeople.” The bars come in such flavors as “Brain Boosting Blueberry,” “Luscious Lingonberry” and “Totally Tantalizing Thai Ginger.” The Sydney, Australia-based outsourcing company set up a slideshow featuring photos of the delicious new snacks along with a webpage where users can “buy” a box of energy bars at $25 a pop. If you make it as far as to click the “Buy Now” button, they finally let you in on the joke.
One can only guess this is a riff on Google Glass, or Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) recent acquisition of the virtual-reality firm Oculus VR Inc., but the latest gag from Twitter Inc. (NYSE:TWTR) involves a “sophisticated, fully immersive, staggeringly high-resolution wearable device that allows our users to interact with the world around them entirely via a custom aviary interface.” Twitter Helmet is a decent attempt as far as April Fools’ pranks go, but compared to last year’s cleverer vowel-eliminating service, it left us feeling a little tweetsulted.
Netflix ‘Rotisserie Chicken’
Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), which last year threw users for a loop with “totally random movie categories,” has outdone itself this year. Nodding to its recent foray into original content, the video-streaming service announced its latest release, “Rotisserie Chicken,” a 1-hour, 13-minute movie that apparently consists of chicken roasting in the oven. (Full disclosure: We didn’t watch the whole thing.) The movie, which Netflix describes as being “in the tradition of ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,’” had 375 member reviews at last count and, amazingly, three stars.
Air France: Selfies In The Air
In what is probably the most amusing prank this year, Air France announced via Twitter a new inflight camera that allows passengers to take -- what else? -- selfies in the air. Granted, selfie jokes have reached a definite saturation point over the last few months, and Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar night stunt should have put the entire matter permanently to bed, but there’s a certain satisfaction to knowing that the phenomenon isn’t unique to the United States. C’est la vie, France.