Seattle business paper fooled by chowder kiosks story

A Romenesko reader who asks to remain anonymous writes:

The Puget Sound Business Journal got caught with a slightly early April Fool’s joke when it churned out this bit of credulous press-release republishing about a local seafood chain, Ivar’s, debuting custom clam-chowder kiosks. (Attached PDF [text posted below], the pulled the link after Twitter followers called it out). Seems slightly ridiculous on its face, and then you get to the part about them being made by “Piscine Technology Enterprises,” a goofy name that doesn’t pop up on Google. So apparently, they didn’t even check that.

HOWEVER: This is even more egregious than normal because the founder of this restaurant, the late Ivar Haglund, was famous for pulling pranks as media stunts, often successfully. The company continues to do this all the time. The Seattle Times got duped into it a couple of years ago, writing about a system of “underwater billboards” with only the faintest hint of skepticism.


Here’s the column that the Puget Sound Business Journal pulled after being told it was a hoax. (I’ve asked the paper to comment.)

Ivar’s unveiling futuristic custom chowder kiosks

Date: Friday, March 30, 2012, 4:36pm PDT
Glenn Drosendahl/Contributing Writer – Puget Sound Business Journal

Ivar’s Seafood Restaurants are about to go where not even their visionary namesake founder might have imagined. The Seattle-based group soon will be rolling out custom chowder-making kiosks.

The kiosks resemble hot beverage vending machines, but serve only chowder.

The potential varieties, however, are almost endless.

The machines offer white, red or Cajun-style brown roux bases as a starting point. Then come possible add-ins — at least 20 kinds of smoked or non-smoked seafood, more than 100 “flavor accents,” and optional boosts of clam nectar, Omega-3 or even an espresso shot.

Flavorings mentioned in a press release include coconut, capers, bacon, blue cheese, wasabi and habanero essence.

Once the customer is done making choices – including serving sizes from 8 to 48 ounces — the mixing and dispensing is expected to take less than 20 seconds, with the final concoction pouring into a biodegradable cup or a bread bowl.

“This is dispensing technology unprecedented in the market for hot chowders,” Ivar’s Director of Marketing Kirsten Wlashchin in a statement.

But wait, there’s more. During that 20-second wait for the chowder, a voice will relay nutritional values. And the kiosks will allow users to upload their chowder selections directly from the touch screen to social media websites.

The kiosks were developed by Piscine Technology Enterprises. They will debut in April inside several Puget Sound area Ivar’s locations, and are likely to pop up later at event venues, stadiums and office buildings.

Somewhere the late Ivar Haglund, who founded the group in 1938, is smiling and no doubt advising people to “keep clam.”

GLENN DROSENDAHL blogs about restaurants, chefs and food for the Puget Sound Business Journal. Email: | Twitter: GDrose



  1. I realize it was an April Fool’s joke, but darn, that sure made me hungry.

  2. Jake said:

    Drat… and here I was hoping they’d franchise those to other parts of the country.

    Sure do miss that clam nectar.

  3. Will said:

    This may mark me as a foolish technophile, but that sounds awesome.