Large companies have large marketing departments. Large companies should have smart people in said marketing departments, seeing as how they’re a large company and all. So it boggles the mind that a group of smart people all sat in a room and decided to launch products like these, probably spending millions of dollars in the process. My suggestion? Next time someone is thinking of launching a product like Cheetos Lip Balm, they should instead divert the money into sending food to starving people in Africa. Then they could go home thinking they did something smart.
I guess someone thought that if you used Zippo Lighter Fluid Perfume you’d be considered hot, but that’s a stretch. And I think Sly would have had a better chance if he had called it Rocky Pudding. That at least sounds interesting, like Rocky Road ice cream.
If you’re going to stay on top, you’ve got to try new things — just ask Nintendo, who used to make playing cards and sex hotels, or Lamborghini, who used to make tractors. But sticking your brand name on a bold new product comes with some risks, especially if your idea is utterly fucking insane. Like …
Zippo Lighter Fluid Perfume
OK, we don’t know that Zippo brand perfume actually contained any butane, or even smelled like it, despite the fact that it came in a little lighter-shaped bottle. The fragrance is called Zippo the Woman, which has the benefit of sounding like a Zippo-brand perfume as well as a circus sideshow freak.
It’s such a strange choice, because where most perfumes are just named for some abstract idea (“Yes, Chanel, I suppose this is what the number 5 would smell like”), here they’re selling you a container that normally holds another kind of fluid, one that can kill you if you sniff too much of it. It’s like making cologne that comes in a green jar labeled “pickle juice” — the perfume might smell great, but most people will never find out.
Strangely, disposable lighter brand Bic also dipped their toe into the inappropriate-brand-perfume pool when they put out several different fragrances, designated by color. In fact, they released an astonishing 16 different fragrances in 1988 and, yes, put them in little lighter bottles, lest you get the crazy idea that the stuff smelled like ink pens or razors.
Glaser Design Study CenterThe best disposable scents $0.99 can buy.
It was touted as a “Fine French perfume that’s affordable,” because it was $5 and it was sold in pocket-sized bottles. It folded domestically in 1991, but still lives on in Iran, where it is presumably being exported as some kind of punishment.
Cheetos-Flavored Lip Balm
Flavored lip balm is nothing new — we’ve all heard that Katy Perry song. Hell, if you’re going to smear wax on your lips, it might as well taste like something, right? But there seems to be a fairly wide gulf between Cherry ChapStick andCheetos-flavored lip balm.
That short-lived product was produced in 2005 and killed very shortly after by lip balm manufacturer Lotta Luv, which seems to specialize in making lip wax that tastes like food. But while lots of their “flavors” make perfect sense, like bubble gum …
Lotta LuvReally, all of this just enables those creepy friends who have no problem eating lip gloss.
… there turned out to not be a lot of demand for a lip balm that, according to a customer review, “smells like moldy cheese.” Besides, if you want to kiss somebody with Cheetos powder smeared on their face, they’re not exactly hard to find in this day and age.
Pringles via USA Today
When the holidays approach, food companies make a killing by simply splashing some pumpkin pie flavoring or peppermint dust into the mix and waiting for consumers to come running (there are people who only go to Starbucks during peppermint mocha season). However, every year when Christmas rolled around, the Pringles family’s children would sit solemnly beside the 18-foot-tall bay windows of their mansion and lament the Bugatti-only demolition derby they could have afforded if only they weren’t cursed with such a holiday-neutral brand. How the hell can you dress up freaking potato chips for Christmas morning?
By not giving a shit, that’s how. That’s how we wound up with Pringles flavors like White Chocolate Peppermint, Pumpkin Pie Spice, and Cinnamon & Sugar (which we admit is by far the least terrifying of the three).
KotakuThey’re lazily dusted with the holiday flavors of your childhood!
Of the White Chocolate Peppermint Pringles, one website aptly said, “It tastes like cocoa with a little peppermint in it, being sipped out of a mug made from a raw potato.” The festive Pringles appeared around Christmas 2012. Will Santa bring them back this year? And if so, can he be stopped in time?
Cap’n Crunch Ship Shake
Cereal mascot Cap’n Horatio Magellan Crunch has been locked in a 50-year war with the Soggies, so he knows a thing or two about what people want out of their cereal. Sadly, a mere three years after his creation, he had a crisis of faith when, in 1966, Quaker Oats decided what the world really wanted was Cap’n Crunch that didn’t crunch at all. The result was Cap’n Crunch’s Ship Shake, a pureed mix of breakfast delight.
Jason Liebig“And it still cuts the roof of your mouth!”
Quaker Oats of course tried to market it as a healthy alternative to the old and lame variety (i.e., real food), going so far as to say that when mixed as directed, a cup of Ship Shake was as healthy as a bowl of oatmeal.
Quaker OatsBesides, if you’re throwing a party, do you invite the hard-drinking naval officer or the hyper-religious teetotaler in the funny clothes?
But with flavors such as butterscotch and chocolate, this was a pretty hard sell for parents who were actually expected to pony up for this stuff. The only possible upside is that it gave some young enthusiasts a preview of what all their meals might look like when the doctor is forced to wire their jaw shut as a last-ditch effort to make them lose some weight.
Harley-Davidson Wine Coolers
Quick, what image comes to mind when you think about bikers? Well, if you can’t think of anything except leather vests and Mad Max-style gangs, then maybe you should take a good long look at yourself. Harley-Davidson sure did. Back in 1984, they realized that beneath that leather vest (and probably a frankly ostentatious tattoo) beats the heart of a passionate human being.
Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images“If you prick us, do we not stomp your teeth into the curb?”
Harley-Davidson thus realized that they needed to start selling goods that would appeal to the progressive biker lifestyle. And when it came time to create an alcoholic beverage for their customers, it would be insulting to go with some fiery mix of grain alcohol and used motor oil. No, what 1980s bikers wanted, they figured, was the dewy crisp refreshment of a wine cooler called Scooter Juice. That wouldn’t get any self-respecting Hell’s Angel beaten to death, right?
Not that the people at Harley-Davidson have grown out of touch, but in the years since, they’ve shown a willingness to put their logo on freaking anything:
ABC NecktiesThere’s no better way to stick it to The Man than wrapping a double Windsor around your neck with this bad boy.
The company pulled the wine coolers a mere three years into production, which is actually about 35 months longer than you’d expect.
Sylvester Stallone Pudding
Instone via Muscles Prod
A few years back, Sylvester Stallone realized he didn’t have his name on enough terrible things. Trying to remedy this, he created arguably the slowest way to eat protein. Yes, where most fitness junkies see protein shakes as a necessary evil that must be hurriedly choked down before a workout, Stallone decided to put the stuff into the form of a pudding that you could methodically eat with a spoon, to really savor that shit.
Sadly, Stallone brand pudding has gotten him ensnared in a lawsuit by someone claiming that Stallone stole his pudding recipe from him, which sounds like the plot of a really weird dream we had one time. We don’t understand what all the fuss is about, considering that we’re pretty sure you can make your own protein pudding by just adding a fraction of the amount of milk or water you normally would to your protein powder. If it’s still too runny, then refrigerate it for 30 minutes. You’re welcome.
In fact, that is the only way you’ll get Stallone pudding these days, unless you’re speaking in innuendo, since the product was discontinued.
Vegetable Jell-O (for Salads!)
Jell-O is timeless because it’s so simple. It’s a wiggling block of some vaguely sugar-flavored substance; adding anything to it just screws it up. But it took the world a long time to learn that lesson, and in the 1960s the Jell-O people got cocky and tried to convince the world that Jell-O should be a staple of everyone’s diet.
And thus began the company’s foray into the non-dessert section of grocery markets. New savory varieties were introduced, including mixed vegetable, celery, seasoned tomato, and Italian. The company even released a recipe book for their new creations, saving you the trouble of figuring out how to best utilize this new vegetable-inspired gelatin. Some of these mouth-watering recipes even featured seafood, and had to have created some of the most fascinating shits in human history.
Jell-O“Your husband will certainly appreciate the hours of effort it took to make this as he’s shoveling it into his face.”
The fad didn’t last long, and in retrospect it doesn’t seem so surprising that people were unwilling to stick their spoons into what looks like a Lovecraftian space monster.
Jell-O“Life on your planet is confusing and awful. Please kill me.”
Ice Breakers Cocaine Baggie Gum
Hershey via Penn Live
On paper, there was probably nothing weird about Hershey’s decision to market breath mints in the form of little dissolvable packets that melt in your mouth, releasing the powdery xylitol goodness within. Yet it seems like somewhere in the design phase somebody would have said, “You know, this really does look like we’re marketing little baggies of cocaine to children.”
WikipediaIn all fairness, Pixy Stix and Fun Dip are both still around … maybe they thought this one could slip by.
If you don’t see the problem, you’re not imagining yourself getting pulled over by the police and having them find a couple of these packets in your front pocket or purse. Or a teacher catching a kid giving one to his friend in class. By the time they figure out what it is, you’ve already been tackled to the ground and tased four or five times.
Law enforcement officials voiced their displeasure, and Hershey basically replied with “We didn’t make it look like coke on purpose, but, yeah, we’ll definitely stop selling this.” And so, in a turn of events that surprised no one, the product was pulled from shelves in 2008.
Hershey via Sun-SentinelAt which point they nervously flushed their whole supply down the toilet.
And speaking of drug-themed candy …
Oh, yeah, that’s a goddamned PEZ dispenser in the shape of a hand clutching an eyeball. That’s not some terrifying art project, that’s an official PEZ product from the psychedelic ’60s.
It was the era of hippies and flower children, and the suits at PEZ knew if they were going to stay relevant, they had to get with the times. How else would they do that other than by introducing dispensers that would remind the drugged-out counterculture types of the most nightmarish acid trip they’ve ever had? Oh, and the candy was flavored like flowers. Because that’s all those filthy animals eat, right?
While short-lived, the dispensers are actually worth a few hundred bucks now. And looking back, there’s no reason they couldn’t have been more successful if they’d just stayed with the other dispensers of the era that were simply shaped like flowers.
PezThese came packaged with a free Jefferson Airplane album and patchouli oil.
See? Nothing strange about-
Collector.atOH, GOD, WHY?!