The first Google Doodle was a reference to the Burning Man Festival of 1999. The doodle was designed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin to notify users of their absence in case the servers crashed. Subsequent Google Doodles were designed by an outside contractor, until Larry and Sergey asked then-intern Dennis Hwang to design a logo for Bastille Day in 2000. Hwang has been designing the Google Doodles ever since.

Clicking on a Google Doodle links to a string of Google search results about the topic, which can drive a lot of traffic to unsuspecting sites.

Google doodles have been produced for the birthdays of several noted artists and scientists, including Andy Warhol, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Louis Braille, Percival Lowell, Edvard Munch, Béla Bartók among others. Additionally, the featuring of Lowell’s logo design coincided with the launch of another Google product, Google Maps. Welsh novelist Roald Dahl has been featured, with the logo containing characters and items from some of his books, such as Matilda. The celebration of historical events is another common topic of Google Doodles including a Lego brick design in celebration of the interlocking Lego block’s 50th anniversary. The logo is also notorious among web users for April Fool’s Day tie-ins and jokes.

On February 14, 2007, Valentine’s Day, the Google doodle featured a chocolate-dipped strawberry that combined the second “g” and the “l” as its green stem, giving the appearance that the “l” was missing: thereby displaying “Googe”. In response to several speculations the Official Google Blog, responded: “When you look at the logo, you may worry that we forgot our name overnight, skipped a letter, or have decided that ‘Googe’ has a better ring to it. None of the above. I just know that those with true romance and poetry in their soul will see the subtlety immediately. And if you’re feeling grouchy today, may I suggest eating a strawberry.”