In September 2021, social media users enthusiastically shared a photograph of what appeared to be a sign outside a Chinese restaurant that offered a 95% discount to customers vaccinated against COVID-19, and attacked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a prominent Republican opponent of vaccine mandates, stating “F*** DeSantis.”
Here’s how the sign appeared in a popular Reddit post on Sep. 2. The restaurant’s name was purportedly “Phoenix Koi” and the sign read:
LUNCH: $150 (GET 95% OFF WITH VACC. CARD!)
The picture spread widely on Facebook, too. The screenshot below shows just a selection of posts from September 2021, and demonstrates the popularity of the “Phoenix Koi” sign on that platform:
In reality, the sign was fake. Not only was it the product of digital editing, but it derived from a website set up to allow users to generate an infinite variety of fake Chinese restaurant signs, with a different restaurant name and text each time.
The website — Atom.Smasher.org — has been in existence for at least 15 years, and allows the user to enter a restaurant name and up to four lines of text, from which a fake sign is generated (the following example was not created by Snopes):
Sources:Atom Smasher’s Bar-B-Q Sign Generator. http://atom.smasher.org/bar-b-q/. Accessed 3 Sept. 2021.Atom Smasher’s Chinese Restaurant Sign Generator. http://atom.smasher.org/chinese/. Accessed 3 Sept. 2021.Atom Smasher’s Error Message Generator. http://atom.smasher.org/error/. Accessed 3 Sept. 2021.Atom Smasher’s Office Sign Generator. http://atom.smasher.org/office/. Accessed 3 Sept. 2021.MashedPotatoesDick. “Florida Chinese Restaurant Lunch Offer.” R/PoliticalHumor, 3 Sept. 2021, www.reddit.com/r/PoliticalHumor/comments/pgvbp4/florida_chinese_restaurant_lunch_offer/.