What’s the origin of April Fools’ Day?
The April 1 tradition of pranks has been observed for centuries across a variety of cultures but the true origins of April Fools’ Day is unknown.
10Best Editors, USA TODAY 10Best
April Fools’ Day took a hit in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic started, and most companies canceled their annual prank posts. Google even continued to refrain from jokes for this year’s annual prank day.
But a lot of brands are jumping back on the trend this year, announcing fake products that no one wants – with the exception of one that promises to save parents a world of hurt – and generally trying to find the humor in a world that’s still reeling from a very serious 2020.
From food companies stepping out into the world of beauty or announcing new flavor combinations that can’t possibly be real, to a bathroom product that promises to help with language skills, here are some of the April Fools’ Day pranks companies are touting this year.
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Velveeta announces new, ‘creamy’ skin care products
A staple of cheese-dip recipes, Velveeta teased a new self-care venture for April Fools’ Day: skin care.
The company shared a video on social media to promote its new line of beauty products, including a daily moisturizer ($35), night cream ($50) and serum ($40).
“Feel the magnificence of melty moisturization. Breathe in the bliss. The creaminess of Velveeta, now in skin care. V by Velveeta,” a voice announced on the company’s prank video.
Doubling down on the joke, Velveeta also has a waitlist where users can submit their name and email in order to be notified when the products will be available for purchase.
Outback serves up lipstick and steak puns
Not to be outdone when it comes to overtaking the beauty industry, Outback Steakhouse announced it would be selling a new collection of lipsticks, or “lipsteaks.”
Promising the new collection will “have you looking like a delicious entree,” the joke makeup is also billed to be “the rarest of them all.”
The restaurant remained on brand with its steak puns by sharing the names of these new, red-based lipstick shades: “Prefer Not To Share My Medium Rare,” “Medium Meaty-Yum,” “Kiss And Medium Well,” “Well Done For One” and “Char Me Up, Scotty.”
These faux LEGO ‘smart bricks’ should be real
Parents may wish LEGO’s SmartBricks weren’t a prank.
In a video shared on Twitter Thursday, the toymaker teased a product that could save millions of feet from stepping on the bricks that are often left scattered across floors.
“Get ready for a new experience,” a line in the video reads, shortly after showing a pair of socked feet walking across a hardwood floor filled with the plastic pain-makers.
The SmartBricks, instead, would sense a person approaching and automatically remove themselves from the unsuspecting walker’s path.
The April Fools’ Day video ends with the words “Coming Soon,” which may be the meanest prank that’s ever been pulled.
Bud Lights pizza seltzers take the surge a little too far
The boom in the hard seltzer business has launched countless new lines and flavors, and Bud Light decided to play with that trend by jokingly announcing its new pizza-flavored seltzers: pepperoni, extra cheese, veggie and anchovy.
In an April Fools’ Day Eve tweet, the beer company shared a photo of the fake new bottles and packaging. By Thursday, Bud Light replied to that tweet with a surprising message. “Scary how many of you actually wanted to try these yesterday #AprilFools.”
We hope they’re also joking about people really wanting to drink an anchovy-flavored seltzer.
Green Giant cauliflower Peeps for Easter baskets?
People trying to find healthy alternatives to calorie-laden snacks may look far and wide for better alternatives, but some things may be too far of a stretch to stomach.
Case in point, these Green Giant cauliflower-flavored Peeps, a collaboration between two brands that are both in on the joke.
“Of course, only the most observant will notice that April 1 is also April Fools’ Day,” a press release stated. “While this is just a prank, both brands do firmly believe vegetables and Peeps belong in every bunny’s Easter basket (just maybe not in the same package).”
Duolingo toilet paper turns your bathroom into a classroom
Duolingo, a language-learning website and app, used a little bathroom humor in its April Fools’ Day messaging, promising a unique educational experience for multitaskers: a toilet paper roll where every square comes with a lesson.
“Introducing toilet paper that teaches you phrases from new languages. No ads. No interruptions,” the company’s website stated.
“Language learning is hard… so we made it soft,” Duolingo tweeted on Thursday, adding that the Duolingo Roll allows you to turn your bathroom into a classroom.
Early Volkswagen prank backfires for carmaker
Volkswagen claimed Monday that it was changing its name in the U.S. to “Voltswagen” in a nod toward the company’s heightened commitment to electric vehicles.
Then the company put the brakes on the name change after fooling media and the public, claiming it was an early April Fools’ Day prank.
“The many positive responses on social media showed that the campaign resonated with consumers,” VW spokesman Mike Tolbert said Wednesday in a statement after the revelation went viral. “At the same time, we realize the announcement rollout upset some people, and we are sorry about any confusion this has caused. We will continue on our mission towards an EV future, as Volkswagen.”
Should companies take part in April Fools’ Day 2021?
After a grueling 2020, a brand’s decision to rejoin the traditional April Fools’ pranks is one to be made cautiously.
“Last year, I would have said, ‘No, don’t go there,'” said Mary Zalla, global president of consumer brands at Landor & Fitch, a brand consulting firm. However, this year there’s a shift with consumers wanting a return to some sense of normalcy.
“But, given the context we are in, the pranks do need to be different than in years past,” Zalla said in a release. “Brands should not be out there trying any ploy or stunt in a shameless bid for publicity. That won’t go down well. But if brands use the day to put something out there that might be helpful to people, and on top of that make them smile, then go for it.”
USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey contributed to this report.