The curious meowing duck on Amazon’s pages

unsplash-logoAndrew Wulf

It is possible to find a meowing duck in the code of Amazon’s pages.

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This is not really a news article, as this is a quite well-known fact, especially around developers and website designers, but it is still interesting to bring up from time to time.

While writing our Kizuna AI article, we went on Amazon’s page to take the album cover images, which can be found in high quality by following the link in the site code. It was while looking for these links that we came across what initially looked like a cat saying “Meow”. After a second look, it turns out it is a duck saying “Meow”, and not a cat, as initially expected.

A quick verification on other Amazon pages, both from that Amazon and other Amazon’s such as Amazon France, shows that this “feature” can be found on all of them. With a simple search on Google, one will quickly notice we were not the first ones to come across this, with, in fact, quite a lot of forums aware of this.

There is no official explanation from Amazon, although, from what most people seem to agree on, is that the initial part of the comment, the “Meow”, was introduced in the code early on, with some of the oldest mentions going as back as 2010, as a means of potentially debugging the page or running automated checks, being easy to find. There is no official word from Amazon on the real purpose of said comment.

This remained in the code for years, until eventually, around 2016, new reports indicated that the “Meow” was now accompanied of the drawing of a duck in ASCII (ASCII is a type of code), probably as a way to respect and update the original comment.

In any case, this is now treated as an Easter egg, which can be easily found by most people by quickly glancing through the code of any Amazon page (this referring to Amazon the shopping site, and not the rest of their services).

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