"Easter eggs," as these secret treasures are often called, lurked amid websites, movies, and video games long before Google launched. But Google has tucked away some of the best. Here's a sampling:
Cheeky tongues. To accommodate users from across the world, Google comes in more than 120 languages – Arabic, Filipino, even Elmer Fudd. If that last one sounds odd, you've spotted an Easter egg.
Google's Fudd page looks the same as its English counterpart, but all the labels are spelled the way the Looney Tunes character would say them. Type in your search, then click "Seawch" or "I'm Feewing Wucky."
Google also offers Klingon (from "Star Trek"); Pirate (searrrch!); Esperanto (the created language); and Bork, Bork, Bork! (in honor of the Swedish Chef from "The Muppet Show"). Google.com/language_tools has the full list, with at least two more Easter eggs mixed in.
Odd numbers. Google's search engine also works as a calculator and unit converter. Search for "one plus one" and you get "two." Google will give you the same answer if you search for the "number of horns on a unicorn + the loneliest number." The calculator also gives "the answer to life, the universe and everything" as the number 42, a finding that Douglas Adams fans will understand.
Kooky cooks. Google's free e-mail service, Gmail, supports itself through targeted advertisements. But if you check the spam folder, these Google ads have been replaced with links to recipes. Playing off the term for junk mail, Gmail offers instructions for making Spam skillet casserole, Spam quiche, spicy Spam kabobs, and other meals involving the canned meat of the same name.
Misleading directions. Sometimes, Google Maps provides very creative driving directions. Ask for a car route from Japan to China – two countries divided by water – and it plays along. Drive 870 miles, it says, until you reach the Japanese coast, then "Jet ski across the Pacific Ocean" for 485 miles until you reach China.
Google used to tell American drivers that they could "Swim across the Atlantic Ocean" to reach Europe and "Kayak across the Pacific Ocean" to arrive in Australia. Both Easter eggs have since been removed.
Other websites. While Google has perhaps more than anyone else, many other companies have hidden their own online Easter eggs.
On Yahoo.com, click on the exclamation point in the company's top-left logo. Just make sure to set your volume to a reasonable level first.
KonamiCodeSites.com has a list of more than 80 websites – such as Facebook, Digg, and Google Reader – that reward users for typing in the Konami code from classic video games. Use the arrow keys to type up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A.