It began with Craisins.
The advertisements for PWNMEAL Extreme Gaming Oatmeal — an elaborate prank from the creators of Cards Against Humanity disguised as an "extreme," gamer-focused brand of breakfast food — were seemingly everywhere at PAX East 2014, and you can trace their roots back to a Dec. 15, 2013 tweet from Cards Against Humanity designer Max Temkin.
In the tweet, Temkin noted his surprise that Craisins were "actually 'cranberry raisins' and not 'crazy raisins.'" A series of Twitter replies carried the joke further, but a reply from cartoonist Kris Straub that referenced "pwned-meal" sealed the deal.
Dec. 15 was a Sunday. By the time Temkin arrived in the Cards Against Humanity office on Monday, he'd already formulated a plan. Temkin called his manufacturer in China and began plans for PWNMEAL, PAX East 2014's most elaborate troll.
"My dream was to create the illusion of an extreme oatmeal brand so convincingly that people would throw their packets out," Temkin wrote this week on his blog, "and then go digging in the trash for them later when they realized that there were Cards Against Humanity cards inside."
The PWNMEAL packets were printed in China and shipped to the U.S. where the Cards Against Humanity team inserted "about an ounce each of good old domestic U.S.A. oatmeal" into them — three total tons by his reckoning. All told, Temkin wrote that "an extreme street team" distributed more than 150,000 "packets of instant oatmeal with Cards Against Humanity cards inside to attendees of PAX."
For more on Temkin, be sure to read our feature about him and the Chicago gaming scene and check out his gaming playground. You can learn more about Cards Against Humanity in Polygon's coverage of the its PAX East 2014 panel.