On April 1, you mapped your home in Google Quest, tsk-tsked Forbes for claiming that Romney ceded to Santorum, watched Romney prepare to give an address to an empty room, and oohed and aahed over the Warby Barker pug wearing a monocle.
But there were plenty of low-profile pranks that may have gone under your radar. With April Fools’ pranks becoming an important form of viral marketing, the pressure was on for companies and Web sites to pull off a good trick. Some of the best ones were based on nostalgia, reminding us of the days when things weren’t so high tech. Here are some of our favorites:
• Flickr’s Atkinson Dither filter: Flickr’s new filter enabled users make any photo look as though it was straight out of the 1980s. Just as Quest took Google Maps back to an era of lower-resolution imagery, so too did Flickr, noting, “Photography started in black and white, and we feel it’s time to take photo sharing back to its roots.” The photo site’s “vintage” look — which was also reminiscent of old newsprint — inspired some nice art for a prank, though, with Flickr sharing some of the best dithered images on its blog.
• Rock Band, the board game: Instead of shredding with your Rock Band guitar, you can shred your way across the board with cards and dice in the “new” Rock Band board game. Harmonix parodies kids’ game ads in its promo video for the new and decidedly low-tech way to play its hit game in yet another nostalgic prank.
• WestJet’s child-free flights: This Canadian carrier may have inflamed the mommy blogs with its prank, but it scored some points with singletons and the child-free with their “introduction” of Kargo Kids, a program that keeps kids in a “special VIP” area of the aircraft (hint: It’s down near the luggage). Kargo Kids can run, scream and play, and even enjoy a “feed trough.” Anyone who’s recently been on a flight with a screaming baby might secretly hope this one was real.
• Virgin Volcano: Virgin’s prank this year worked because it was only one step past implausible — after all, Richard Branson is already working on sending people intp space and underwater, so why not to the center of the Earth? Virgin Volcanic is like Dr. Evil’s plot from “Austin Powers” — a giant drill that will take people to the Earth’s core. “In future [sic] this technology can be developed as a clean, safe and fast alternative to trans-continental commercial aviation. ... Experts predict that one could travel from Hawaii to Naples in a couple of hours via the molten lava flows,” said a press release.
• Adblock becomes Catblock: It’s an April Fool’s prank so good that users are working to make sure that it sticks around all year long: Adblock, the popular download that removes advertising scripts on certain pages, replaced those blank spaces with cat pictures on April 1. Adblock’s blog, which describes the prank in LOLspeak, notes that if people donate money to support programming costs, Catblock can become a real product — great news for anyone who thinks that the Internet doesn’t have enough pictures of cats.
• Hungry Hungry Hippos for iPad, K-cup 5-star meals: Think Geek had a few pranks up its sleeve this year — one that people might wish was real, and another that people might wish they have never heard of. A riff on Keurig coffee, K-cup 5-Star meals will brew you a cup of corndogs or tacos — eww. But their Hungry Hungry Hippos for iPad— another nostalgic throwback, like the Rock Band board game — is a game that a lot of people might actually like to play. App developers, your work is cut out for you.
• Print your own kittens, by Kodak: Another winning combination of April Fools’ prank plus cute animals, Kodak introduced a “print-your-own-kittens” kiosk on April 1, where users could select a breed, wait 90 seconds and fall in love with their adorable new ball of fur. The company announced that it is working on developing large format printers capable of producing polar bears and elephants.