April 12, 2024

Avoiding April Fools’ Day: Duolingo on Ice, Stoner Translator, Emoji Connections

Do we really need another day of hoaxes when the Internet tries to fool us pretty much every other day of the year? Anyway, April Fool’s Day is here again, so it’s worth saying: anything you read on April Fool’s Day that seems even slightly weird may be untrue.

Have you ever read the Wikipedia article about April Fool’s Day? We can’t even pinpoint the origins of this holiday, as we can with Mother’s Day or Earth Day. There may be a connection with Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, or with Noah’s Ark, but perhaps not. It might be the weirdest – or silliest – holiday we have.

Even the staid old New York Times got in on the action today, with an all-emoji version of the online word game Connections.

And this year, the astrological movement known as Mercury Retrograde, which some people think is bad luck, also begins on April 1 — so if you believe in that, prepare for extra craziness.

How do you recognize an April Fool’s joke?

The best tip is to just be suspicious. If a company chooses April 1, or the days before that, to release or announce a product that sounds too strange to be true, don’t be quick to believe the offer.

Check anything that seems suspicious, especially before spending money. For example, make sure you’re on the company’s own site. Google the name of the product or information about the item to see if someone mentioned the product as a joke. Usually counterfeit products offer a page you can click to, and that page may simply say APRIL FOOL.

Some of the biggest companies out there have created prank products for the holidays, but not all shams and hoaxes are corporate pranks. Don’t fall for the April Fool’s jokes of random imposters. It’s easy to spread untruths and misinformation on Reddit, Facebook, TikTok or Instagram, where everyone is a publisher and not everyone can be trusted.

And not all jokes are products. Be very wary of “news items” you see on sites that are not actual publications. Check the URL. The New York Times does not misspell its own name in the URL, but prank sites may choose a web address with a similar name to trick you.

Here’s a look at some of the bigger April Fools’ jokes circulating this year. I will add to this collection as new jokes appear. Note that I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these companies actually market a small number of these products just for laughs. So even if they are inspired by jokes, they can come to life.

Rainforest Café on top of the Empire State Building

The Rainforest Cafe has 23 restaurants, including one in Malta and one in Tokyo. But there’s none on top of the Empire State Building — except today, in a decent joke on the Empire State Building’s Instagram. (Fear not, YouTubers: Ted Nivision, who made a hilarious viral video visiting all Rainforest Cafe locations in the US and Canada, has been called out and responded to the post.)

Translation program Rosetta Stoned

Language program Rosetta Stone and cannabis company Fluent haven’t exactly joined forces for Rosetta Stoned, a translation tool that helps translate the world of marijuana vocabulary with the help of a chill rock named Stoney. Duuuuuude.

Babbel baby translator

Another language joke: Language learning program Babbel and baby brand Lalo joked about offering a baby translation program called Babbel, promising to translate all that cute goos and gahs. Parents of newborns everywhere wish this were real.

Duolingo on ice

Another language program, Duolingo, played off the (creepy?) owl mascot and pretended he was starring in a new multilingual skating musical “coming soon to a city near you.” Extra points for the promo video, which pulls out all the stops, featuring skate versions of the app’s signature characters, plus an apparent kidnapping that plays off Duo the Owl’s menacing messages sent when users forget to exercise.

Scotch tape makes Scotch

3M’s famous Scotch tape is so popular. Why wouldn’t the company branch out and make real Scotch, as in whisky? The company urges customers to “fool responsibiy.”

Scotch tape Scotch whiskey joke

Drink up, Scotch tape users. Hi!

3M/screenshot by CNET

Hurricanes are given first and last names

Hurricanes are given famous first names, such as Katrina and Rita, but a joke post from the Yale Climate Connections website claimed that new hurricanes will be given first and last names, such as Alberto Saurus (a dinosaur), Beryl O’Fun and Debby Downer.

Tinder hires a vice president ghost hunting

Ghosting, or simply never responding to an online love interest, is a real problem. So the joke of dating site Tinder is that the company hires a VP of Ghost Hunting. Someone warns Fred, Daphne and the rest of the Scooby-Doo crew.

NYT Connections game, all emoji

The New York Times pulling an April Fool’s joke? Yes, the newspaper has adapted its online game Connections, where you combine 16 words per category and replace the word clues with emoji clues. (We’ll provide the answers in that link if you want to cheat.)

Connections game grid with emoji for April Fool's Day Connections game grid with emoji for April Fool's Day

Look at what you did there, New York Times.

NYT/Screenshot by CNET

Sour cream and onion Pringles/Olipop soda

Sour cream and onion Pringles are tasty, but they aren’t ideal flavors for soda. Pringles and Olipop team up for an April Fool’s Day prank saying they’re making just that.

Sour cream and onions soda fake can Sour cream and onions soda fake can

Thirst quenching?

Pringles/Screenshot by CNET

King Arthur Meel AI

King Arthur Flour pretended to replace his people with a mutilated AI called AI-Rthur, answering readers’ Instagram questions in the AI’s voice. When asked if it was real, AI-Rthur wrote: “SEE THE CALENDAR FOR FURTHER CLARIFICATION.”

Dunkin name change

Dunkin, formerly Dunkin Donuts, joked on social media that the company was now changing its name again, this time simply to “DONUTS.” (CNET’s copy department especially appreciates the redundant apostrophe.) The post read: “Please don’t ask any other questions. Just go through it.”

Pilot Flying J fragrance

Pilot Flying J Truck Stops decided to joke that it released a perfume that smells like diesel. The small print below the image reads: “Available while supplies last. Only there are no stocks because this is a joke.”

Fake Diesel Fuel perfume spray Fake Diesel Fuel perfume spray

Do you have gas?

Pilot Flying J/Screenshot by CNET

7-Eleven hot dog sparkling water

Hot dog water, aka the water you cook hot dogs in, has got to be one of the nastiest liquids out there. (There’s even a Scooby-Doo character named Hot Dog Water, yes.) Supermarket chain 7-Eleven is touting a new flavor of sparkling water named after the hot dogs it sells: Big Bite Hot Dog Sparkling Water. USA Today reports that at least a few cans were made, since the paper was sent one, and it really tasted as you’d expect. Disgusting.

hotdog-water-screenshot-2024-03-29-at-10-48-10am hotdog-water-screenshot-2024-03-29-at-10-48-10am

Mmm, hot dog sparkling water…

7-Eleven Instagram

Adidas boxing shoe

Adidas makes shoes. Shoes are delivered in boxes. So this year the company isn’t launching a shoe box, but a box shoe – a fake shoe (we hope) in the shape of a box. It’s shown in Adidas’ Confirmed app, and shoes are so extreme these days, who knows? It could be real one day.

Box-shaped Box-shaped

Adidas is advertising a box-shaped “shoe” on the Confirmed app, but we suspect the April Fool’s Day holiday has something to do with it.

Adidas/Screenshot from CNET

Del Taco Tic Tac mints with hot sauce flavor

Del Taco is a fast food chain with almost 600 locations. It offers hot sauces for its Mexican-inspired dishes in mild Del Scorcho and Del Inferno flavors, and it sent out a press release touting Tic Tac mints in these three hot sauce flavors. Writing as someone who has previously been sent samples of curry flavored and Hidden Valley Ranch flavored lip balms, I don’t think this is that hard to believe. But don’t try to buy these mints – it’s a hot joke.

April Fool's Day hot sauce Tic Tacs April Fool's Day hot sauce Tic Tacs

Let’s be thankful that these hot sauce Tic Tacs are just a joke.

Del Taco

Again, we’ll update this list as more jokes are rolled out.

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