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Google's April Fools' prank: We're now Topeka

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- In the rich tradition of April Fool's Day pranks, Google has renamed itself after Topeka, Kan., accompanied by an absurd explanation from the company's chief.

On Thursday morning, the company's home page was titled "Topeka" instead of "Google," although still in its distinctive blue-red-yellow-green font.

How Google, er, Topeka's home page looked Thursday morning.

Why? Because in March, Topeka Mayor Bill Bunten announced that he was informally changing the name of his town to "Google," just for one month. He told CNN that he was doing it for "fun." This is Google's tit-for-tat explanation, according to its official blog, posted by CEO Eric Schmidt.

"Whatever the outcome, the conclusion is clear: we aren't in Google anymore," blogs Schmidt.

April Fool's Day carries a long tradition for pranks and punks, which affect every aspect of life, from the school yard to the board room. Since the advent of the Internet, companies and individuals have gotten inundated with funky e-mails making wild claims, on this day in particular.

Google has made a name for itself as one of the more proactive pranksters in the business world. Every year on April 1, the company tries to punk its followers with a new prank.

Past pranks

The naughtiness stems back to 2000, when Google claimed that its "MentalPlex" could read your mind through your computer screen, allowing users to conduct searches on sheer brain power.

"With MentalPlex, you just project a mental picture of what you want to find," explained Google, in its 2000 posting, accompanied by a hypnotic spiral.

Last year, Google claimed its site was featuring the world's first 3D browser, but this was just another case of April Fool's bunk.

The strange tradition of April Fools' mass media pranks goes back to 1957, when the BBC broadcast a weird and untrue television segment about Swiss farmers harvesting spaghetti from trees.

Naturally, many of the viewers mistakenly thought the BBC story was real. To top of page

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