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|←2013||April Fool's Day, 2014|
The Manaphin (2014) Officials in St.Pete/Clearwater, Florida reported the sighting of a "manaphin" — a manatee-dolphin hybrid (scientific name Trichechus Dolphinium), long thought to be extinct. The rare creature was spotted by a kayaker as it poked its head above the water.
The officials explained that manaphins had long been known in Central and South America where they were called the delfin de la suerte (lucky dolphin) on account of an old legend that a glimpse of the mammal was considered to bring good luck. Charles Darwin reportedly sketched a manaphin while visiting the Galapagos in 1835.
King’s College Choir Uses Helium (2014) King's College Choir released a video announcing that complex regulations had made it impractical to continue featuring young boys in the choir, and that they had been forced to find other ways to replicate the high pitch of the boys' preadolescent voices. Because the older choral scholars had vetoed the "surgical solution," the choir leaders had finally adopted a suggestion made by a colleague in the Chemistry Department — use helium. The video, demonstrating the use of helium during a performance, generated almost 1 million views on YouTube.
Speakerphone Pregnancy Call Prank (2014) Stephen Barrows, professor of economics at Aquinas College, had a classroom rule that if your cellphone rang during class, you had to answer it on speakerphone. His students took advantage of this rule to prank him by having a female student receive a call from a "pregnancy resource center" informing her that she's pregnant. The professor's discomfort visibly increases as the call proceeds.
Pork and Chocolate (2014) The makers of Ritter Sport, a German chocolate bar, debuted a new flavor combination: pork and chocolate. It promised that the taste of the pork combined with delicious milk chocolate produced an unexpectedly spicy-sweet flavor that pleasantly surprised!
Spray-On Yoga Pants (2014) Athletic apparel company Lululemon debuted spray-on yoga pants, which it described as offering "lightweight flexibility and versatility" as well as "next-level comfort." One can, retailing for $1200, included enough spray for 1200 pairs of pants.
Cheeteau Perfume (2014) Cheetos, a brand of cheese-flavored, puffed cornmeal snack made by Frito-Lay, announced the launch of a perfume — Cheeteau. Taglines described it as "a wafting whiff of pungent desire," "dangerously cheesy," and "Unpasteurized. Unapologetic. Unavoidable."
Citizen Kane 3-D (2014) NPR movie critic Bob Mondello reported for All Things Considered on a remake of the 1941 movie classic Citizen Kane. The new version, titled Citizen Kane 3-D, was directed by and starred Keanu Reeves, and added a martial-arts subplot to the tale of a wealthy media tycoon who dies friendless, haunted by his childhood. Mondello noted, "Perhaps it's best to think of this Kane as a reinterpretation, not a remake. Citizen Keanu, if you will."
Coffee-To-The-Home (2014) Google Fiber introduced the new Coffee-To-The-Home (CTTH) program, which allowed coffee to be piped directly into homes, via the Google Fiber jack. It promised a "direct coffee superhighway." The Fiber App could even be used to customize the coffee to one's individual preferences.
Tigris bovis (2014) Researchers at Clemson University in South Carolina announced the successful cross-breeding of a tiger and cow to produce a new species, Tigris bovis. Despite their appearance, the breed was actually very docile. But the researchers noted that "their strange appearance has led to a 64% decrease in cow tipping, which is just unprecedented."
The Tigris bovis also had to be kept away from chickens, as it had a tendency to viciously attack them.
Beyonce offers to pay interns with selfies (2014) HerCampus, a news site for women in college, posted an announcement that Beyoncé was looking for interns to help organize the "official Beyoncé archive." She wasn't offering any financial compensation, but she did promise "the opportunity to take three selfies with Beyoncé over the course of the internship."
The announcement seemed believable enough that several media outlets picked up on the story and reported it as news. It also circulated widely on social media.
Cap Labeling (2014) The Norwegian Trekking Association announced a new cap labeling system that would allow hikers to display their romantic status while on the trails. Wearing a red cap would indicate 'I'm married,' green meant 'single,' and yellow meant 'it's complicated, but I'm open to contact.'
Although intended as a joke, interest in the idea proved so strong that after several weeks the Association introduced the idea for real.
Zero Gravity Hotel Rooms (2014) Traders Hotels announced the introduction of zero-gravity hotel rooms: "Would you rather get a good night's sleep or aimlessly free-float around your hotel room? That was the question we asked our guests, and the answer was clear: our guests simply could not care less for gravity."
CERN Switches to Comic Sans (2014) CERN, the Geneva-based organization that operates the world's largest particle physics laboratory, announced that henceforth all its webpages would be written in Comic Sans. CERN Head of Communications James Gillies noted, "We thought the most effective way to communicate our research into the fundamental structure of matter at the very boundaries of technology was by changing the font." He added, "This is a serious laboratory, with a serious research agenda... And it makes the letters look all round and squishy."
CERN added that all especially important physics results would be accompanied online by animations of little clappy hands.
Penguin Now! (2014) Penguin Books announced a new imprint, Penguin Now!, designed to introduce the classics to a new generation of readers accustomed to smartphones and social media. The imprint would reprint classics, subtly altered by adding exclamation marks at the end of every sentence. "By using exclamation marks over and over again," the publisher noted, "the reader is reminded of the urgency of the story at the end of every sentence. It's a great way of preventing potentially inattentive readers from tuning out, putting the book down and wandering off, without altering the original text too much."
Why doesn’t America read anymore? (2014) On its Facebook page, NPR News shared a link to an article with the provocative title, "Why Doesn't America Read Anymore?" The link generated hundreds of comments. Some agreed with the premise. Others disagreed. But what these responses shared in common was that the people who posted them apparently hadn't clicked through to look at the article itself. If they had, they would have discovered an announcement that read, "We sometimes get the sense that some people are commenting on NPR stories that they haven't actually read. If you are reading this, please like this post and do not comment on it. Then let's see what people have to say about this 'story.'"
Microsoft Braces (2014) Microsoft Germany unveiled the latest in wearable technology: Microsoft braces. The braces included a wide range of functions, such as a 32-megapixel camera (activated by smiling), an HD video projector, and a phone with "Word of Mouth" automatic translation. Also, the braces vibrated whenever an SMS or Tweet was received.
ICA Glasses (2014) Swedish food retailer ICA debuted ICA Glasses designed to create an entirely new shopping experience. The glasses could point out deals and items on your shopping list. But they went further, guaranteeing a healthy lifestyle by activating an alarm whenever a "caloric violation" was detected. And they could even control the brain's impulses, positively modifying desires for food and shopping.
Total Temperature Control (2014) Virgin America partnered with Nest to offer personalized in-flight climate control, allowing airline passengers to be able to customize their own personal climates at 35,000 feet. Preset climates were offered, including "Cancun afternoon" and "Chicago polar vortex."
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