An October 12 2020 article headlined “Kwik Trip Launches Kwik Strip Gentlemen’s Clubs” was predictably a hit on social media, purportedly heralding a new gentleman’s club venture from the convenience store chain:
A circulating article from The La Crosse Times appeared to report the following:
LA CROSSE, WIS — Kwik Trip, Inc. has officially launched Kwik Strip, a new chain of convenience gentlemen’s clubs.
Opening statewide next week, the clubs seek to provide fast and convenient exotic entertainment in a familiar setting. The move marks a strategic business turn that aims to expand Kwik Trip’s existing portfolio and increase revenue across the board.
“We think there is an untapped market for folks who want to be able to gas up their cars, pick up a few essentials, grab that greeting card they forgot, and then get a quick lap dance from one of our coworkers, perhaps while enjoying a roller dog or nachos,” said Charles Winscomb, head of Kwik Strip sales and marketing.
“Plus, the name is recognizable as well as effective, like ‘Hey honey, I’m just gonna head to Kwik Strip, be right back.’ Did I say Kwik Trip? Strip? It all sounds similar, leaving a kind of gray area as to where exactly I’m going,” Winscomb added.
When we accessed the article on October 14 2020, it was preceded by the following note:
***NOTE: This article – along with all of our articles – is parody. Not factual. Normally we feel we don’t need to spell that out, but for some reason people REALLY want to believe this one. – La Crosse Times Staff***
The disclaimer also didn’t work. Our initial search primarily turned up links to Reddit posts and aggregated content about Kwik Trip’s purported pivot, with no sign that the story was intended as satire or humor. We also located an October 13 2020 LeadStories.com debunking of the claim — which was not immediately visible on Google.
LeadStories.com provided additional detail about changes to the page, explaining the disclaimer was added after the story went viral — not before. The site also provided an archived copy of the La Crosse Times item without the disclaimer:
… after inquiries began pouring in about the truth of the story’s claims, The La [Crosse] Times updated it’s article with a disclaimer[.]
LeadStories.com also obtained comment from Kwik Trip’s media relations department, which they put out before the disclaimer was added to the article (and which may have been responsible for the disclaimer):
That is very untrue. It’s false. We are still the family company with the same morals and values we have always had. There’s just no truth to it, and we are considering our (legal) options.
An article titled “Kwik Trip Launches Kwik Strip Gentlemen’s Clubs” spread virally on social media, originally without a “satire disclaimer” indicating the claim was intended to be taken as a joke. Readers turning to Google to verify the story were unlikely to see LeadStories.com’s very quick debunking of the page; it was not visible to us on the first page of search results.