Avoiding April Fools' Jokes: Duolingo on Ice, Stoner Translator, Emoji Connections

We can't decide between the 7-Eleven Hot Dog Sparkling Water or the Pringles Sour Cream and Onion Soda. Maybe both?

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, generational studies. Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
5 min read
Close-up of a calendar, showing "April Fools' Day" written in the square that denotes April first. Someone is circling the date using a neon yellow highlighter pen.

Don't be fooled on April Fools' Day.

Getty Images

Do we really need another day of hoaxes, when the internet is trying to fool us pretty much every other day of the year, too? Regardless, April Fools' Day is here again, so it's worth saying: Everything you read on April 1 that seems even the least bit weird is possibly false. 

Have you ever read the Wikipedia entry for April Fools' Day? We can't even trace the origins of this holiday, like we can with Mother's Day or Earth Day. There might be a connection to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, or to Noah's Ark, but then again maybe not. It's perhaps the weirdest -- or the most foolish -- holiday we have.

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

And this year, the astrological movement known as Mercury Retrograde, which some people believe brings bad luck, also begins on April 1 -- so if you believe in that, get ready for extra weirdness. 

How to spot an April Fools' prank

The best tip is simply to be suspicious. If a company picks April Fools' Day, or the days leading up to it, to release or announce a product that sounds too odd to be true, don't be quick to believe in the offering.

Fact-check anything that looks suspicious -- especially before spending any money. Make sure you're on the company's own site, for one thing. Google the name of the product, or information about the item, to see if anyone has called out the product as a prank. Usually, fake products will offer a page to click to, and that page may simply say APRIL FOOL.

Some of the biggest companies out there have created joke products for the holiday, but not all the shams and hoaxes are corporate jokes. Don't fall for April Fools' pranks from random tricksters. It's easy to spread falsehoods and misinformation on Reddit, Facebook, TikTok or Instagram, where everyone is a publisher and not everyone can be trusted.

And not all pranks are products. Be very wary of "news reports" you see on sites that aren't real publications. Check the URL. The New York Times doesn't misspell its own name in its URL, but joke sites may pick a very similarly named web address to try to trick you.

Here's a look at some of the bigger April Fools' pranks circulating this year. I'll add to this roundup as new jokes come out. Note that I wouldn't be one bit surprised if some of these companies actually release a small number of these products just for laughs. So even if they're joke-inspired, they could come to life.

Rainforest Cafe atop Empire State Building

The Rainforest Cafe has 23 restaurants, including one in Malta and another in Tokyo. But it doesn't have one atop the Empire State Building -- except for today, in a decent joke posted to the Empire State Building's Instagram. (Never fear, YouTubers -- Ted Nivision, who made a hilarious viral video visiting all the US and Canada Rainforest Cafe locations, has been summoned and commented on the post.)

Rosetta Stoned translation program

Language program Rosetta Stone and cannabis company Fluent haven't really joined forces on 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 prank: Language-learning program Babbel and baby brand Lalo joked about offering a baby-translation program called Babbel, promising to translate all those adorable goos and gahs. Parents of newborns everywhere wish this was real.

Duolingo on Ice

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

Scotch tape makes Scotch

3M's famous Scotch tape is so popular, why shouldn't the company branch out and make real Scotch, as in the whisky? The company urges customers to "prank responsibiy."

Scotch tape Scotch whisky prank

Drink up, Scotch tape users. Hic!

3M/Screenshot by CNET

Hurricanes get first and last names

Hurricanes famously get first names, like Katrina and Rita, but a joke press release from the Yale Climate Connections website claimed that new hurricanes will get first and last names, such as Alberto Saurus (a dinosaur), Beryl O'Fun and Debby Downer.

Tinder hires a VP of ghost hunting

Ghosting, or just never responding to an online love interest, is a real problem. So dating site Tinder's prank is that the company is hiring a VP of Ghost Hunting. Someone alert Fred, Daphne and the rest of the Scooby-Doo crew.

All-emoji NYT Connections game

The New York Times, pulling an April Fools' Day joke? Yep, the newspaper tweaked its Connections online game, where you match up 16 words by category, replacing the word clues with emoji clues. (We provide the answers in that link if you want to cheat.)

Connections game grid with emoji for April Fool's Day

Eye sea what ewe did there, New York Times.

NYT/Screenshot by CNET

Sour cream and onion Pringles/Olipop soda

Sour cream and onion Pringles are good, but those aren't ideal tastes for a soda. Pringles and Olipop have teamed up for an April Fools' Day joke where they say they're making just that.

Sour cream and onion soda fake can


Pringles/Screenshot by CNET

King Arthur Flour AI

King Arthur Flour pretended to replace its humans with a mangled AI called AI-Rthur, answering reader Instagram questions in the AI's voice. When questioned about whether it was real, AI-Rthur wrote, "PLEASE 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 desk particularly appreciates the extraneous apostrophe.) The post said, "pls don't ask any other questions. just going thru it rn."

Pilot Flying J fragrance

Pilot Flying J truck stops decided to joke that it was releasing a cologne that smells like diesel fuel. The fine print below the image says, "Available while supplies last. Except there are no supplies because this is a joke."

Fake Diesel Fuel perfume spray

Got 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 to be one of the nastier liquids out there. (There's even a Scooby-Doo character called Hot Dog Water, yeesh.) Convenience store chain 7-Eleven is touting a new flavor of sparkling water named for the hot dogs it sells, Big Bite Hot Dog Sparkling Water. USA Today reports that at least a few cans were made, as the paper was sent one, and it really tasted like you'd expect. Gross.


Mmm, hot dog sparkling water...

7-Eleven Instagram

Adidas box shoe

Adidas makes shoes. Shoes come in boxes. So this year, the company is putting forth not a shoebox, but a box shoe -- a fake (we hope) shoe shaped like a box. It's shown on Adidas' Confirmed app, and shoes are so extreme these days, who knows? It could be real one day.

Box-shaped "shoe" from Adidas

Adidas is advertising a box-shaped "shoe" on its Confirmed app, but we're guessing the April Fools' Day holiday has something to do with it.

Adidas/Screenshot by CNET

Del Taco hot sauce-flavored Tic Tac mints

Del Taco is a fast-food chain with nearly 600 locations. It offers hot sauces for its Mexican-inspired food in mild, Del Scorcho and Del Inferno flavors, and it sent out a press release touting Tic Tac mints in those three hot sauce flavors. Writing as someone who's been sent actual samples of curry-flavored and Hidden Valley Ranch-flavored lip balms before, I guess this isn't so tough to believe. But don't try to buy these mints -- it's a hot prank.

April Fool's Day hot sauce Tic Tacs

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

Del Taco