Beware the menu fools of April

Marketing Bites: April Fools’ Day is nigh, and nary a restaurant marketer can be trusted.
Pizickle Pizookie
BJ's says it's debuting a Pizickle Pizookie on April 1. | Photo courtesy: BJ's Restaurants.

Three hundred and sixty-four days of the year (365 in a leap year like this one), restaurant marketers do everything they can to cultivate trust between their brands and their customers.

Carefully constructed promotions convey that the food is a stellar value, made from high-quality ingredients, served with kindness and care.

It’s a different story as April 1 nears.

With April Fools’ Day around the corner, it can sometimes be tough to tell whether a restaurant is on the up and up—especially when they insist a one-day-only marketing endeavor is “not a joke.”

At BJ’s Restaurants, where a giant cookie called a Pizookie is the signature dessert, April 1 marks the debut of the Pizickle Pizookie.

It’s billed as “an ooey-gooey, warm chocolate chip cookie topped with heaps of rich ice cream” plus lots of dill pickle slices. It’s also billed (more than once in the press release I received) as “not a joke.” (It and the other Pizookies are free on April 1, with a minimum purchase of $14.95).

“Guests can choose the signature Chocolate Chunk Pizookie as a pickle-topped creation, introducing a delicious new way to enjoy this treat,” Heidi Rogers, BJ’s SVP of marketing, said in a statement. “We can’t wait for everyone to try it and tell us what they think. Who knows? Maybe we’ll keep it for the long haul!”

Denver-based Ziggi’s Coffee is also having some fun with pickles in April.

The coffee chain also said it is rolling out a dill pickle-infused coffee line for a limited time.

Offerings include Pickled Dreams (cold brew topped with pickle juice cold foam, dill seasoning and a full-sized pickle for $5.90), Dill’ight (frozen blended espresso topped with dill seasoning and slices of sour pickles for $6.35) and the Pickle Latte (espresso combined with dill pickle juice for $5.40).

Every rational part of my brain wants to believe these menu items are not real, but the listed prices are throwing me off. It’s best not to think about it too hard.

Ziggi’s said it noticed that internet searches for pickle-flavored foods rose 55% in the past year, according to Yelp.

“We thought it would be fun to combine two beloved flavors—pickles and coffee—and the result was pretty amazing,” Ziggi’s CEO and co-founder Brandon Knudsen said. “As innovators in the beverage industry, we are constantly looking for unique flavor profiles that will surprise and delight.”


Editor-at-Large Peter Romeo takes a look back at some of the best April Fools’ Day pranks in restaurant history.

Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Maze revisits some of the industry’s biggest marketing flops. Anybody remember McDonald’s Mighty Wings?


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