April Fools' pranks: Space burps, Waymo self-driving cars for cats, pickle burger

From Logitech, Duolingo, McDonald's and other big names, here's a tally of this year's finest -- or, at least, most obvious -- April 1 2019 jokes.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
6 min read
Enlarge Image

HelloFresh teases a unicorn-themed meal kit box for April Fools' Day.


Turn your skepticism radar up to full blast. It's April Fools' Day and companies ranging from Google to ThinkGeek are looking to bamboozle you with bizarre and just barely believable pranks.

We're prowling the internet for the funniest and weirdest jokes out there, whether it's a talking tulip or a koala with leopard spots. 

Google Maps snake game

The Google Maps app turned into an old-school video game with the addition of a "Play Snake" feature. Tap on the snake icon, hit play and choose from a selection of destinations, including San Francisco, Tokyo and Cairo. It puts you in control of a red double-decker bus, street car or other city-appropriate mode of transportation. You then have to snake around and pick up passengers. It's a fun bit of retro entertainment.

Google says the interactive joke will stay live for about a week, though you can head over to a special Google Maps Snake website to play after the app prank is over.

Enlarge Image

Google Maps adds a snake game to the app.

Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Google also released a video introducing Screen Cleaner in the Files app, a fake feature that is supposed to magically clean the outside of your phone from the inside.

Google Tulip

Google Netherlands offered up a very earnest video for Google Tulip, a new way to talk to the famous flower (and have it talk back). "Thanks to great advancements in artificial intelligence, Google Assistant on phones and Google Home is now able to understand tulips, allowing translation between Tulipish and dozens of human languages," Google says.

It turns out tulips aren't great conversationalists.

SodaStreamMe recruits an astronaut

Retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly teamed up with SodaStream to introduce SodaStreamMe, a burp-powered fizzy-drink maker. The ad plays on the difficulty astronauts have in space with ingesting carbon dioxide. There's a reason astronauts aren't chugging root beer in orbit.

ThinkGeek unveils oddball products

Geeky gear retailer ThinkGeek is infamous for its April Fools' fake products, some of which become real. For 2019, ThinkGeek went nuts with a lineup that includes a Banksy Toaster that burns the artist's prints onto bread, a Thor Mighty Mjolnir Mailbox, a Bean Bag onesie (yes, it's attached to your butt) and a Captain Marvel Universal Pager.

Enlarge Image

The Thor Mighty Mjolnir Mailbox is supposed to be "nearly indestructible."


HelloFresh's Unicorn Box

Meal delivery service HelloFresh encourages you to "eat like a mythical creature with a box full of farm-fresh rainbows, smiles and joy right at your doorstep." The company's glittery Unicorn Box meal kit sounds magically delicious. It's full of colorful frosting, gummy candies and, of course, rainbow sprinkles. Just don't ask if it's healthy.

T-Mobile Phone BoothE

T-Mobile's John Legere got April Fools' rolling early with the unveiling of the Phone BoothE on Friday. The pink booths are supposedly soundproof and meant to help mobile phone users have a private conversation on a busy urban street. Kind of like a modern Cone of Silence.

T-Mobile furthered the joke on April 1 by introducing the even-more-absurd Mobile EditionE (MEE), a portable version of the bigger booth.

Duolingo Push

Language-learning app Duolingo knows it's just too easy to dismiss its daily practice notifications, so for April Fools' Day, it's rolling out Push, a much pushier reminder system. Push involves a giant Duolingo owl mascot that follows you around and registers its encouragement or disappointment, depending on your preferences.

Contiki goes Dogtiki

A lot of April Fools' jokes focus on providing dog versions of services for humans. Travel-tour specialists Contiki unveiled a particularly nice take on this genre with Dogtiki, a coach tour vacation that's just for dogs.

"Now he can go on his own with dogs around his age, experience the world, get local sniffs, taste the food of different cultures and just come back with so many friends," says one enthusiastic dog owner. The best parts involve the tour guide trying to get the vacationing pups to interact with him.

Litter-Robot's The Cat Sheet

Automatic litter box maker Litter-Robot naturally turned to the feline side for its timely prank. The Cat Sheet is a high-tech sheet of paper that's designed to attract your cat to crawl onto it for a snooze. The fake advertisement is full of meaningless tech buzzwords and cute cats, a winning combination.

Shutterstock plans a physical library

Shutterstock is celebrating April 1 by stepping away from its digital heritage and promising to open a massive brick-and-mortar stock library full of physical images of tube socks and disgruntled ostriches. "Librarians will be replaced by first of-their-kind AI-powered robots, Cyanotypes, who will quickly search the extensive card catalog to help direct patrons to the image, video or music track of their choice," says Shutterstock.

Honda Pastport remembers the '90s

The Honda Pastport looks like a normal SUV on the outside, but the inside is another story. Honda's joke ad extols the virtues of the 1990s throwback interior, which includes a digital clock, cassette-to-CD converter, a pager holder and a dial-up modem in the glove box. It's all that and a bag of chips.

Lockheed Martin bottles space perfume

What does space smell like? Lockheed Martin bottles the odor of the cosmos for April Fools' Day and names it Vector. The company describes the smell as "featuring a deep metallic base" with a clean, sterile feel "balanced by a subtle yet seductive fiery undertone that burns off like vapor in the atmosphere." I sniffed a sample, and that's exactly what it smells like.

Lockheed Martin is actually offering up a limited run of Vector, which is designed to match a real astronaut's description of the smell of space.

Koalas with leopard spots

Tourism Australia offered up a compelling reason to book a trip to the land down under when it posted a photo of an adorable koala rocking some leopard spots. "We don't yet know why only certain joeys are blessed with such incredible fashion sense, but we're sure little April here is the envy of her friends," the tourism group wrote.

Mr. Potato Head loses his job

Kids these days just aren't into potatoes. Hasbro fired its iconic Mr. Potato Head toy on April 1 and replaced it with a hipster-friendly alternative: Mr. Avo Head, a bearded avocado.

Winterrun University

Australian classes directory Courses launched one of the most elaborate April Fools' sites of the day with the introduction of Winterrun University, a place for Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings fans to learn how to ride dragons and become jesters. The course finder works like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. 

Enlarge Image

Learn all the skills you need to know to survive in Westeros.


McPickle Burger

While fast-food giant McDonald's in the US joked about offering shake-flavored dipping sauces, McDonald's Australia won the day with the all-pickles McPickle Burger. Pickle fans actually got excited about the prospect of a briny burger.

Logitech rebrands the wireless mouse

In one of the more sensible pranks of the day, Logitech decided that "wireless mouse" wasn't an accurate enough name for the computer peripheral. Instead, it's going with "hamster," since wireless mice have no "tails."

Planet Fitness tests a mobile stationary bike

Gym chain Planet Fitness took aim at home-based workout warriors with a funny video extolling the virtues of a stationary bike on wheels. Too bad it can't go up hills.

The Sound Gardener

This gentle April Fools' spoof video from documentary filmmakers Ben Fischinger and Ryan Westra appears under the guise of an Apple ad. It shows the unlikely origin of Apple's AirPods and the gardener who grows them. It's a lovely change from some of the more bombastic stunts.

Monoprice revives cassette players

Electronics retailer Monoprice mined the music technology of the past with its Cassette Series of music equipment. From a boombox to a handheld tape player, it's like you're in the '80s all over again.

Enlarge Image

Revisit the heyday of the boombox.


No joke: Burger King's meatless burger

Burger King hit the internet trend charts on April 1, but not for a prank. The public got wind of the fast-food chain's test rollout of the plant-based Impossible Whopper. The vegetarian burger is getting a limited run in St. Louis, but could eventually make its way onto the regular menu across the US. And, yes, it's absolutely real.

Enlarge Image

On the left is the Impossible Whopper CNET hacked in Impossible's test kitchen. On the right, a traditional Whopper.


Waymo Pet

Self-driving cars shouldn't be just for humans. Waymo expanded its horizons to include Waymo Pet, a self-driving service for dogs, cats and even hamsters. The cat laser pointer gag alone is worth the viewing time.

World's tallest moose statue

Outdoor gear retailer Moosejaw waded into an international controversy on April 1. Norway and Canada had been feuding over which country hosts the world's tallest moose statue. Now neither of them wins. Moosejaw unveiled its own entry into the tallest-moose contest. It's not exactly a realistic depiction of a moose, but it appears Moosejaw actually built the statue for real. 

Final Fantasy XIV Omega smart home assistant

Final Fantasy XIV Online fans will flip for the Omega, a much more in-your-face voice assistant than Alexa. The deadly robot even comes equipped with a wave cannon.

We'll update this post as April Fools' Day jokes appear, so check back for the latest and nuttiest developments.

April Fools' products: These wacky goods aren't jokes, believe it or not

See all photos