It’s April Fools Day! Celebrated around the world, it’s the perfect time for people to play practical jokes and pranks on each other. But the holiday isn’t just a time for individuals to have a laugh on their friends and family: Large companies have long had a tradition of using April 1 to pull humorous hoaxes on the public. Here are some of my favorites from past years.
Google (GOOG) is probably the most well known company for its April Fools Day pranks. Remember back in 2000, when they launched the Google MentalPlex — a way to operate the search engine by thought control? Or Google Romance launched on April 1, 2006. And last year, Google switched names with Topeka.
But by far, my favorite was the Google Animal Translator, an Android app launched from the company’s pet-friendly U.K. offices last year. A YouTube video explains how the new app “translates animal speech into human vernacular” by analyzing the “neurobiological acoustics” of the animal’s speech. Makes sense, no?
Starbucks (SBUX) also loves to play tricks on its customers. You asked for more drink sizes, the coffee giant said last year. We listened to our customers and delivered. Yes, Starbucks announced two new sizes: Plenta — a gigantic, 128-ounce drink, and Micra — a tiny, 2-ounce sip.
The company added pictures of people holding the drinks, and even proceeded to calm the environmentally conscious by saying the mammoth Plenta cups could be reused in several ways, such as rain hats, lampshades or yoga blocks. The Micra cup, it said, could serve “as a convenient milk dish for kittens, soft boiled egg cup or paper clip holder.”
Then there’s this classic from 1983: Burger King’s famous Left-Handed Whopper. The left-handed burger, the fast-food burger chain said, will still include all the ingredients, “but the sandwich has been re-designed to fit more comfortably in the left hand.” How? “The new Left-Handed Whopper will have all the condiments rotated 180 degrees, thereby redistributing the weight of the sandwich so that the bulk of them skew to the left.” Of course, “This will result in fewer condiment ‘spills’ for left-handed hamburger lovers.”
Another of my favorites belongs to the Guardian newspaper in England, which in 2009 announced it would switch from paper to Twitter. “Consolidating its position at the cutting edge of new media technology, the Guardian today announces that it will become the first newspaper in the world to be published exclusively via Twitter.”
As for the 140 character limit: “Skeptics have expressed concerns that 140 characters may be insufficient to capture the full breadth of meaningful human activity, but social media experts say the spread of Twitter encourages brevity, and that it ought to be possible to convey the gist of any message in a tweet.”
Finally, Internet travel company Expedia (EXPE) on April 1, 2009 offered flights to Mars. The site, which featured an ad for the flights, includes details on hotels and activities on Mars as well as explanation about life and weather on Mars. You can even choose your spaceship.