A e-mail from alleged Cracker Barrel founder “Junior Johnson” is circulating inboxes, promising folks a $50 gift certificate if they forward an e-mail to nine of their friends. It’s a hoax.
Here’s the original e-mail:
Capture date: 12/12/2001
My name is Junior Johnson, founder of Cracker Barrel. In an attempt to get our name out to more people in the rural communities where we are not currently located, we are offering a $50 Gift Certificate to anyone who forwards this e-mail to 9 of their friends. Just send this e-mail to them and you will receive an e-mail back with a confirmation number to claim your gift certificate.
Founder of Cracker Barrel
So how do we know it’s a hoax? There are a couple of indicators:
- E-mails that promise you free stuff for annoying your friends with forwarded e-mail – or promising to track such e-mails are always hoaxes. It doesn’t matter if it’s Bill Gates promising you free cash, The Gap giving away clothes, or any of the other variants on this tired theme. Ok, now there are a few exceptions to this — PayPal had a deal were you could recommend someone to their service, and that would earn you cash – but 99.9% of these e-mails are bogus.
- The company web site makes no mention of it: If you go to the web site for the “Cracker Barrel Old Country Store” (and aside from the Cracker Barrel cheese, I don’t know of any other brands with Cracker Barrel, although I’m sure a few exist), there is absolutely no mention of this offer. That’s pretty strange considering a program like this could easily bankrupt the company thanks to the wonders of exponential growth.
- Junior Johnson isn’t the founder: According to the company’s official history (available here on its web site), a man named Dan Evins started Cracker Barrel, not Junior Johnson.
So just on the basis of common sense, we’ve got a few signs that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. But for those eternal optimists who are holding out that some how, some way, this company is actually doing this, I offer you word straight from ye ol’horse’s mouth, received in my inbox on Dec. 13, 2001.
We appreciate you bringing to our attention the email that you received from “Junior Johnson” regarding free gift certificates. Junior Johnson is not a founder of this company and we are not affiliated with this gentleman or the “Cracker Barrel” business that he mentions. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is a federally registered trademark owned by an affiliate of this company and we never authorize the use of our trademarks by others. In addition, Cracker Barrel is focused on serving and pleasing our guests and we will never impose on you in the way this unauthorized communication does.
We certainly apologize for any confusion this has caused you, your friends and family members. Again, thank you for sharing this information with us. We hope to have the opportunity to serve you again soon.
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store
And if you don’t believe that, you can always check out the formal debunking on the official Cracker Barrel web site (click here to do so) So there you have it folks – proof that this is a hoax. And if after reading all this you still don’t believe me, well, better grab your aluminum foil hat and catch a plane to New York, because I’ve got a bridge to sell you.
You can learn more about this hoax by visiting these web sites:
- F-Secure: A very simple hoax debunking.
- ZDNet: A short but good debunking.
- About.com’s Urban Legends Guide:: Another good debunking.