14 Fake Foods We've Been Tricked Into Thinking Are Real

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You can't believe everything you see on the internet, but there are plenty of viral fake foods we've been tricked into thinking are real (at least for a few seconds). Some of us never question these outlandish foods, while others of us rush to investigate whether what we're seeing is real.

According to Verywell Mind, we're hardwired for negative bias, so we tend to perceive negative news as more likely to be true than positive news. It's no wonder that viral fake foods that seem the grossest are the ones people are less likely to question. Somehow, we're tricked into believing Oscar Mayer is selling licorice-flavored HalloWieners or that there might really be Hidden Valley Pumpkin Spice Ranch Dressing. Meanwhile, we're more skeptical that Butterbeer Oreos might be real because they seem too good to be true.

Considering all the grocery products that are discontinued every year, it should be obvious that companies only keep and produce products that will sell. So, if you're disgusted by the idea of a product like Funyuns Mountain Dew, there's a good chance it would have never passed through the product-testing phase in a real food company. With this reality in mind, let's take a look at all the food hoaxes that have still managed to fool some of us.

HalloWieners

If it's nearing Halloween, everyone is likely up in arms about Oscar Mayer HalloWieners on social media again. The fact that these hot dogs contain black licorice leaves most people feeling disgusted about the product. Even licorice fans say these two flavors don't belong together (via Facebook).

According to a National Confectioners Association survey, only 3% of the people they surveyed found licorice to be their favorite candy as a child (via The Washington Post). Taste and smell researcher Marcia Pelchat says that most people either love or hate licorice. Many people find the natural sweetener in licorice, glycyrrhizin, to taste like saccharin. Others may think it smells like NyQuil (via NBC News). So, it's no wonder most people aren't so keen on the idea of licorice hot dogs.

HalloWieners first started getting disgusted reactions in 2021 when Instagram food joker @boxofchowder posted it as a fake product. When @boxofchowder posted the product again on Instagram in 2022, the social media company provided a disclaimer: "This is not a real product and is not available for purchase." Not too many people were hoping it was a real product anyway, so we'll all be okay.

Heinz Mayoreo

Adding flavor to mayonnaise is tricky business. A Mashed survey revealed that 54% of mayonnaise eaters prefer plain to flavored mayo, although 16% said spicy mayo was their favorite. At the bottom of the list were garlic and dijon mayo flavors. But there was one type of mayo for which nobody voted: mayo with Oreos.

In June 2021, the internet was abuzz, sharing a photo of Heinz Mayoreo in a realistic-looking bottle. The first photo was shot against a grocery store backdrop, so it seemed legitimate. But certainly, this wasn't a flavor anyone wanted, right? A Heinz spokesperson assured Snopes it wasn't real, saying, "We do not produce Mayoreo."

In November 2021, food meme creator @DoctorPhotograph Instagrammed a second pic of Mayoreo, saying, "This bottle of Mayoreo... is made of glue and crushed-up crayons ... [with] the sticker label from yours truly for $6. DM me if you'd like one." So, it turns out that you, too, could own a bottle of Mayoreo to alarm visitors who dare open your fridge and peruse your condiments.

Funyuns Mountain Dew

We know you're disappointed not to get to experience citrus and onion together in a soda, but it's just a Mountain Dew flavor that's not meant to be. The original photo someone doctored to create Funyuns Mountain Dew seems to be for Baja Flash Mountain Dew, but there's no clear history on who posted the first doctored photo for Funyuns Mountain Dew.

In April 2022, the official Twitter account for Mountain Dew expressed how perplexed it was that Googling "Funyuns" resulted in these three search suggestions: "Funyuns Mountain Dew," "Funyuns Mountain Dew real," and "Funyuns flavored Mountain Dew." Of course, it's not a real drink, you silly Googlers.

Having a sense of humor about the fake product, Mountain Dew did some marketing research on Twitter to determine true fan reactions to Funyuns Mountain Dew. It showed 46% of the 2,931 voters responded (with emojis) that the thought made their head explode, 24.1% indicated that the idea was just silly, and 30% indicated great distress at the prospect of Funyun-flavored Mountain Dew.

Ragu Peppermint Alfredo

If there's one flavor you would never expect for alfredo sauce, it's peppermint. If you're feeling dubious about the prospect of experiencing peppermint in a sauce made from cream and parmesan cheese, you're not alone. When a photo of Ragú Peppermint Alfredo made the rounds on social media during the winter holiday season of 2021, nobody was impressed (via Facebook). The label didn't even feature herbaceous mint sprigs, which might sorta make sense. Instead it had peppermint candies and candy canes. So, the idea of peppermint candy in an alfredo sauce was even more off-putting.

Just to ensure the product wasn't real, Snopes emailed the Mizkan company, which makes Ragú sauces, to see what it had to say. The response was, "We have NOT launched this product and have no plans at this time to do so ... Our guess is that a holiday elf, having some fun on social media, may have come up with the peppermint-alfredo-sauce concept. And while it's certainly festive and creative, it might not be a fan favorite at mealtimes." Indeed. Not very many (if any) Ragú fans were going to want this product on their pasta. Mashed previously rated Ragu Classic Alfredo Sauce as the No. 6 jarred alfredo sauce, but adding peppermint candy would have certainly pushed it to last place.

Garlic Coca-Cola

A curious Coca-Cola flavor arose out of Romania, home of Dracula, around 2014. Some of the earliest images said, "I found this coke in Romania" (via Snopes). It seemed plausible. After all, an article by the BBC about Romanians and garlic says, "Romanians have a cult-like appreciation for the plant. The principle is simple: the more, the better." Garlic shows up heavily in Romanian cuisine, folk remedies, and folklore. It's even thought of as a "magical plant" that can keep you safe from evil ghosts. So, it wasn't too far of a stretch to entertain the thought that Romanians might be the right test market for garlic-flavored Coke.

Snopes says the image that someone photoshopped to create Garlic Coca-Cola came from a Flickr photo taken of Cherry Coke in France in 2011. So, any Romanians or other citizens of the world who were hoping for a new Coke flavor with garlic will have to remain disappointed. Or you could try Jats Taccola, a garlic cola drink from Japan's garlic capital city (via Sora News 24).

Squeez Bacon

The story goes that Squeez Bacon was invented after World War II by chef Vilhelm Lillefläsk in a small Swedish restaurant. The product provided a new way to process bacon with the bonus that it came in a squeeze bottle so you could use it as a condiment. It's a convincing story with intriguing historical references, but this Swedish-turned-American bacon condiment doesn't really exist. Amazingly, it was supposed to have a 12-year shelf life and need no refrigeration, which should have been a hint that it was either fake, or you should run far, far away.

It turns out that Squeez Bacon was a fake product ThinkGeek trotted out every April Fools' Day starting in 2001 (via The New York Times). In fact, some of the earlier images of Squeez Bacon had an @ThinkGeek.com label at the bottom of the image.

If you're a bacon lover who was ever disappointed to hear that Squeez Bacon doesn't exist, you'll be thrilled to learn that the British have created a Smokey Bacon Paste. The product is mainly chicken and tomato but also contains smoked bacon extract powder. So you can add a little bacon flavor to your food any time you'd like.

Crab Cake Oreos

If you thought for even a second that Crab Cake Oreos with tartar sauce filling might have been a real thing, we'd have to wonder about you. Yes, it's possible to buy crab-flavored chips like Duff Goldman's favorite: Utz "The Crab Chip" potato chips. But even the king of sweets isn't likely to go for a pairing of crab cakes with Oreos. Candy Corn Oreos is the real Oreo flavor we like to hate the most, not Crab Cake Oreos (since they're fake).

It turns out that @Hollow.Foods was the original creator of Crab Cake Oreos. It showed up in May 2020 on their Instagram, where they regularly post fake foods for the "world's worst grocery store." Even though Snopes was pretty sure this was a fake product, it still contacted Mondelez International, the maker of Oreos, just to make sure. A company spokesperson stated, "I can confirm that this is not a real OREO cookie flavor." Was anyone surprised?

Spam Oreos

You're not going to believe this, but McDonald's in China really did offer a burger with Spam and crushed Oreos for one day only in 2020. McDonald's China communications manager Abbie Xie explained the sandwich to CNN in the following way: "Luncheon meat is a trending food among youngsters nowadays. It has a very strong meaty and satisfying texture. The flavorful and crispy Oreo, on the other hand, is a snack youngsters are familiar with. By creatively combining the two foods, it doesn't only showcase the collision of tastes and textures, it is also quite topical socially." McDonald's sold most of its 400,000 Oreo Spam burgers by noon. Reactions to the flavor were mixed, but one taster said, "I thought the sweetness and the savory wouldn't match but it was unexpectedly harmonious and tasty."

Since Spam Oreo burgers did so well in China, it wouldn't be too surprising if Oreo had launched a Spam Oreo cookie in China in response. However, so far, it hasn't.

The original source of the Spam Oreo meme is a Facebook page called Hawaii Food Porn, a site devoted to viral Hawaiian foods with "photos that make you go OMG so ONO!" It's always a possibility that the Spam Oreos photo that started circulating on social media in May 2015 was an inspiration for the McDonald's Spam and Oreo experiment in China. Fiction inspires fact sometimes.

Butterbeer Oreos

While most viral fake foods we've been tricked into thinking are true don't sound terribly appetizing, Butterbeer Oreos were one product that some people hoped was real. The first appearance of the image was in August 2014 on Imgur from @audiosnook, who said, "I saw these today and I don't think I've boughten something so quickly in my life." Then, the poster disappeared, never posting anything else. To further fuel the hope that Butterbeer Oreos were a real product, another mysterious commenter (who also disappeared into thin air) said, "I saw these today too!! They are AMAZING. Doesn't taste exactly like the drink, but pretty close!"

While suspicious, some people were still hopeful when u/audiosnook posted about them on Reddit, saying the Oreos were available at Vons supermarkets. One commenter said, "I want to believe that these are real, but I can't find ANYTHING about them online. Could you post another picture so I know! Possibly with your user name on a piece of paper next to it? haha This is driving me crazy and I need solid proof!" Not surprisingly, u/audiosnook disappeared from Reddit as well. Meanwhile, the Butterbeer Oreos hoax lived on, as any good viral fake food meme does.

For now, the only butterbeer-flavored products you're likely to try other than the butterbeer treats at Universal are items like butterbeer-flavored peanut butter and Yuengling's Butterbeer Ice Cream. But Harry Potter fans can still dream.

Halal Pork

In Islam, halal foods are ones that are allowed and prepared according to Islamic law. Muslims have laws that specify how animals for food can be slaughtered. A special blessing prayer must also be a part of the slaughtering process.

There's been an image circulating on the internet since at least 2007 showing a product labeled as "halal," with a sticker from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore. The only problem is that the product is Pasar Fresh Pork, and pork is a meat that is never considered halal.

To assure the public the company hadn't engaged in food fraud, Seah Kian Peng, the CEO of NTUC FairPrice, issued a statement, saying the image was an "insensitive" and "mischievous hoax" that was "done in poor taste." Peng further said, "We are mindful of the serious religious implications of this matter and regard this as a willful act of mischief" (via Snopes). There has never been and will never be such a thing as halal pork.

Manhattan Style Fish A**holes

Some food lovers might like classy, curated food baskets as gifts. However, the quirkier food lovers in your life may be amused with novelty foods you might find in the souvenir section of a gas station, like a can of Skunk a'la King or Manhattan Style Fish A**holes.

Could such a fish body part even be edible? What could possibly be in the can if it's not fish a**holes? And what do they mean by "Manhattan style" when it comes to this delicacy? When we're talking about the difference between Manhattan and New England clam chowder, it's largely about the sauce. Manhattan clam chowder comes in a tomato-based sauce, while New England clam chowder comes in a cream-based sauce. So, it's not surprising that Fish A**holes contain a**hole-shaped, round pasta in tomato sauce, otherwise known as SpaghettiOs.

Wait. You thought this was a list of crazy foods we've been tricked into thinking are real. It still is. If you find a can of Fish A**holes in a souvenir shop, gift basket, or even in your cupboard (thanks to a prankster friend), it's because it's possible to buy Fish A**hole labels and slap them on a can of real SpaghettiOs as a gag gift.

Pringle Just One

In 1996, Pringles told the world in a brilliant marketing scheme that "once you pop, you can't stop" (via YouTube). So, it's virtually impossible to eat just one Pringle, right? Yet, in December 2021, a short video clip hit Instagram, showing a person taking a very short can of Pringles out of their grocery bag, peeling back the stay-fresh seal, and emptying out the contents: a single Pringle. In fact, the can is labeled Pringle Just One. So, it has to be real, right? But why would Pringles release such an evil product when the company told us back in the '90s that it's impossible to stop eating Pringles?

Some people on Reddit were convinced it was real. One commented about how wasteful the packaging was for just one Pringle. Meanwhile, others thought "Just One" on the label must mean that there was just one serving inside, not just one chip. But that couldn't be right since the 1.4-ounce can of Pringles already contains just one serving.

It turns out that this product, the video, and the subsequent viral images were all from the imagination of @doctorphotograph, who has become a master at tricking us with fake viral foods. As convincing as the video is, Pringles never released a can with just one chip in it. The can and packaging were all created by @doctorphotograph for the amusement of all the gullible people on the internet.

Monster Energy Pickles

People have been adding interesting ingredients to pickles as long as they have been making pickles. Wal-Mart even released fruit-punch-flavored Kool-Aid pickles in 2017 called Tropickles (via Today). So, the idea that Monster Energy might make dill pickles brined in Monster Energy Drink didn't seem too far-fetched. However, this monstrosity was yet another Instagram brainchild of the prolific fake-food creator, @doctorphotograph.

Some people on Reddit wanted to know where they could get a jar. However, even after discovering they weren't real, energy-drink fans were intrigued by the idea. One person went as far as to ask a friend to make some, but the energy-drink pickles didn't turn out so great. Twitter user @armcannon said of the homemade Monster Energy Pickles, "Let me tell you. I'm in flavor country, and that country is a failed state. This is a cursed flavor." After eating a second pickle, the user said, "It's hard to describe *how much flavor* is happening. I feel like I have bitten the forbidden fruit and am now cursed with too much knowledge. This might be my villain origin story." So, perhaps the world is better off without Monster Energy pickles after all.

Hidden Valley Pumpkin Spice Ranch Dressing

There's a scientific reason you can't get enough pumpkin spice, and it's related to positive associations we have with the fall holidays. To try to capture that feeling, many people jump on any product labeled pumpkin spice. Granted, a portion of them end up in the trash after one bite, which is what we'd expect would happen with Hidden Valley Pumpkin Spice Ranch Dressing. Interestingly enough, typing "pumpkin spice ranch dressing" into your favorite search engine will yield a few real recipes for this abomination. Luckily, if this flavor of Hidden Valley Ranch activates your gag reflex, you don't have to worry about finding it in a grocery store near you or having it offered at your favorite restaurant in the fall.

The idea that someone would release a pumpkin spice ranch dressing among all the other pumpkin spice fall products seemed realistic enough that the KXRB radio station out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, wrote a blog post about it. But, alas, anyone hoping to find pumpkin spice ranch dressing in the wild was fooled yet again by the internet food prankster from Instagram, @doctorphotograph.