Fictitious Companies of April Fool's Day
Companies that only exist on April 1st
The Victory Garden Gadget Company.
The Elkhart, Indiana Daily Truth reported on a local company that manufactured devices such as the "Chasemaway" to protect Victory Gardens:
"The 'Chasemaway' is merely an adaptation of an old idea. A small phonograph, with loud-speaker attachment, is to operate at regular intervals. Every hour, on the hour, for example, the mechanism will start, and the 'Chasemaway' will shout, 'Gitthelloutahere.' This one is designed primarily for use in the rural areas; more refined language will be provided for those sold for use in town."
KNOSH Food Network.
On Cable magazine reporter Peter Funt announced the creation of the first 24-hour a day cable food network called KNOSH.
(Apparently the idea of a 24-hour a day food network seemed silly in the days before Emeril Lagasse.)
The TNBC Network.
On Cable magazine reported that Turner Broadcasting was going to merge with NBC. The new logo of the resulting company (TNBC) would show a peacock wearing Ted Turner's trademark railroad engineer's cap. Ted Turner would personally add some variety to the new company's entertainment lineup by co-hosting a country music show called "Atlanta Howdown" with Slim Whitman and Barbara Mandrell. On Cable magazine received angry phone calls from executives at both NBC and TNT complaining that their management had taken such a step without informing them first.
Scott Simon reported for NPR's Weekend Edition about an Iowa company called "Doug Be'net" that sold only descriptions of items, rather than physical items. Customers dialed a toll-free number and chose from 24 monthly selections ranging from under $16 to nearly $40.
Simon reported, "All that exists of the items are those words. Doug Be'net is an inventory of ideas and adjectives rather than products. The company stocks no actual merchandise, and therefore, spends no money on manufacturing, consumer warranties or product maintenance." The company was said to have made $1.5 million in sales the previous year. Its primary market was "the same professionals who rent art movie videos and get gourmet food to go. Consumers with limited time but expansive tastes."
NPR subsequently received numerous calls from listeners interested in contacting the company, including one from a Federal Trade Commission employee who wasn't sure if it was a joke and wanted more information. The president of NPR at the time was Douglas J. Bennet.
Website builder Vivid Studios debuted vBay, an eBay parody, which offered users the chance to "sell your junk" or "buy somebody's junk." Potential buyers could peruse auctions such as a Hotwired 1.0 commemorative lunch box, a "drastically reduced" portal kit, and an unclaimed "Cool Shopping Site of the Year" award. The site also included a special section for "antiques that aren't fakes."
Red Herring Magazine profiled a revolutionary new internet technology called Orecchio (Italian for "ear"). This technology used the TIDE communications protocol (short for "Telepathic Internet Data Exchange") to allow users to compose and send e-mail telepathically. To e-mail telepathically users wore a device nestled between their ear and skull. The company developing this device was Tidal Wave Communications, led by Yuri Maldini, a computer genius from Estonia. Adding credibility to the story was a reference to some real research at Emory University in which researchers had allowed a paralyzed man to move a cursor across a computer screen by implanting a device in his brain. Mr. Maldini, who had once been employed by the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence, claimed that he had developed the idea for Orecchio from the encrypted communications systems he had put in place during the Gulf War and the conflict in Somalia. Nevertheless, despite the revolutionary potential of telepathic e-mail, skeptics abounded. Clarence Madison, managing partner of New World Associates, was quoted as saying, "I know crap when I see it. This is crap." Ignoring such critics, Mr. Maldini was pressing
IPO for F/rite Air.
By April 2000, the dot.com bubble was rapidly deflating. This didn't deter hundreds of Dutch investors from lining up to buy shares in F/rite Air, which was being billed as a hot new technology company backed by supporters such as Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and George Soros. The announcement about the company's IPO was posted on iex.nl, a financial web site for Dutch investors. It was reported that shares in the IPO could be reserved for $18 each by email, although it was said that analysts anticipated the stock soaring to above $80 on the first day of its filing. The company seemed like a sure thing, and almost immediately orders worth over $7 million flooded in. The orders didn't stop coming in even after the newspapers had revealed the IPO to be an April Fool's Day joke. F/rite air was a pun for 'Fried air' (i.e. Hot Air).
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