20+ Failed Products That Made Us Wonder What These Companies Were Thinking
Every so often there is a product that comes out on the market that promises to change or revolutionize a certain market. Every industry falls prey to it, whether it’s a new tech gadget that promises to change the game or a new food or beverage that is going to blow your taste buds away. Ultimately, your product is only as good as the consumer deems it to be, and a quick look through the history of failed products shows many instances where just that happens. Some are cringe-worthy and some will make you say LOL WTF. Others are simply ahead of their time.
Let’s see if you remember any of these failed products!
33.) Wow! FatFree Chips
If there’s one thing that Frito got right with the launch of these Wow! Chips, it’s the guaranteed reaction to eating these chips, and we’re not talking about the taste. In the 1990s, the diet craze swept up the food market. Food and beverage companies launched “low-fat” and “fat-free” products to appeal to consumers’ diet craze, and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.
While these chips were delicious, it didn’t last long when consumers started to complain about the true wow factor of these chips: the intense stomach pain that came after eating them and how they caused “abdominal cramps and loose stools.” Shortly after, it was revealed that the chips contain an additive that replaced fat called olestra. The product was eventually rebranded without the explosive factor of olestra.
32.) Heinz Purple Ketchup
Some failed products weren’t immediate fails; some had hype that slowly fizzled out, causing it to flop. Purple ketchup is the perfect example of this. You may even remember begging your mom to get you these bottles of Heinz crazy-colored ketchup. What were they thinking and what caused the purple, green, pink and blue ketchup to fail?
At first, the ketchup bottles sold over 25 million bottles, parents loved buying it for their kids and kids ate it. But kids grow and lose interest just as quickly as they gain it, so in 2006 when sales dwindled, Heinz took the crazy colors off the shelf. After all, red ketchup is just fine.
31.) Thirsty Cat! Thirsty Dog!
Thirsty Cat! and Thirsty Dog! were convinced that your pets would prefer something other than normal tap water in their bowls. They created a flavored, carbonated bottled water that was packed with nutrients for your furry friends. Unfortunately, they were wrong.
The company embarrassingly released a product that didn’t have much demand in the first place and didn’t appeal to even the most particular pet owner. At the end of the day, your cat is still going to drink out of the toilet and your dog is still going to lick water out of random puddles on the street.
Juicero is probably known as one of the biggest product scams of the century. The product is so ridiculous that it is actually quite funny. This product was a huge $120-million-backed startup company that offered pre-sold packets of fruits and vegetables. The machine would then squeeze the packets into juices.
The product launch ultimately collapsed when consumers found out that the packets could be squeezed just as easily with your bare hands and not a fancy $400 machine. The product was mocked across social media and in the tech industry until it ultimately issued refunds to all of its customers and shut down.
29.) Cocaine by Jedux Beverages
Energy drinks are a popular energy source alternative for many, and although they aren’t the most healthy drinks on the planet, Redbulls and Monsters aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. There is always controversy surrounding energy drinks regarding health and the active ingredients, but the most controversial one yet has to the Cocaine energy drink.
That’s right, Cocaine by Jedux Beverages was an energy drink that emerged in 2006 that was eventually pulled off the shelves by the FDA. The FDA claimed that the company was illegally marketing its products as an alternative to the drug cocaine. The company claimed that their sense of humor was the inspiration behind the name and not the drug itself. Regardless, a year later, Cocaine was pulled off the shelves for good.
28.) Colgate Kitchen Entrees
Read the title, and what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Colgate? Toothpaste. Frozen foods, toothpaste frozen foods? Where is the grossed out emoji face when you need it, right?
Branding is everything, and even back in the 1980s, consumers had enough brand loyalty to know that when you see Colgate, you’re brushing your teeth. Well the company tried to launch a line of frozen dinners and it flopped completely. Colgate frozen foods are known as one of the most hilarious food product fails of all time.
27.) Singles by Gerber
Gerber, successful baby food maker, attempted to make a switch back in the ’70s that earned them a spot on this failed products list. Gerber Singleslaunched in 1974 as a product for adult “babies.” Essentially, the product was marketed towards college students or young adults who had never lived alone before.
The product failed due to the company being known as a baby food company, and the product itself was just unappealing. It turns out mushed up food in a jar was not appetizing to even the laziest of adults. But anyone would know that, right?
In 2006, Microsoft launched the Zune, an MP3 player that would rival Apple’s successful iPod. Back then, music players had become synonymous with iPods, and Microsoft wanted a foot in the door with their product launch. But for Microsoft, it was too late.
The original Zune was released in 2006, which was five years after the iPod had been released. The second Zune, the Zune HD, was released in 2009, two years after the revolutionary iPod Touch had been on the market. While the Zune may not have caught on with consumers, Microsoft used a lot of the interface to create their future, more successful devices.
25.) Crystal Pepsi
Yet another drink fail by Pepsi. Crystal Pepsi was the clear soft drinkcreated by the drink company targeting… the clear drink crowds? Crystal Pepsi was released following the trend in the ’90s of clearer products being closer to purity. The clear drink was an alternative to the caffeine-packed, dark-colored colas.
But the clear, caffeine-free colas that were released could not get the consumers’ attention, and the drink was eventually discontinued. It was briefly re-released in 2017 following social media campaigns and petitions.
24.) Premier Smokeless Cigarettes
The first “smokeless” cigarette came on the marketin 1988 by Premier. The cigarettes claimed to heat tobacco but not burn it. The cigarettes were supposed to be the answer to the pesky smell and smoke that cigarettes left behind, but they left a bad taste in smokers’ mouths.
Bad as in they reportedly tasted like charcoal to consumers. They also came with difficult instructions on how to light, which left smokers with a gross mouth and extremely confused.
23.) Coca-Cola Blak
Coca-Cola has its fair share of positions on the embarrassingly long list of failed food and beverage inventions list. One of them is the introduction of Blak, Coca-Cola’s cross between a coffee and a coke.
Thedrink was later discontinued in 2008 because of its bad taste and high amounts of caffeine, which a classic Coca-Cola already contained.
22.) Pepsi A.M.
Yet another beverage fail, Pepsi A.M. came out a bit before Coca-Cola’s 2006 failure. You would think they would learn from their competitors’ lesson, right? Well Pepsi thought that they would create a morning-boost version of their classic Pepsi drink.
In 1989, the brand launched Pepsi A.M., which had 28% more caffeine than regular Pepsi, which seems dangerous if you ask us. The drink never made it out of the test marketing stage, which makes it a complete failure for the company.
21.) Samsung Galaxy Note 7
One of the most recent complete failed products of all time was the extreme flop of the Samsung Galaxy Note. Back in 2016, this smartphone went out with a complete bang—in people’s pockets, that is.
The popular Android phablet (phone tablet) was recalled in 2016 after reports around the U.S. of the phone exploding. It was later officially recalled due to a defect in the battery that caused it to overheat and result in fires.
20.) Cheetos Lip Balm
Yet another what-were-they-thinking moment in product marketing history. The infamous Cheetos Lip balm: because everyone knows we love a good Cheeto-flavored lip, right? Think again.
Out of all of the good ideas to think of, for some reason Cheetos seemed like the best idea. But the reality was that it was a bad idea, a really bad one. The reviews were so bad that it made more sense to grab a bag of Cheetos and get your regular lip balm after.
In 2011, Netflix offered two services: an at-home delivery DVD service and anonline streaming service. Netflix had the bad idea to split the two services into two: Qwikster would be the delivery service, and Netflix would remain the online streaming side.
Qwikster ended as qwickly at it started. The inconvenience of splitting up the two companies created an outcry among Netflix customers, which caused the idea to be squashed within one month of launching. Lucky for Netflix, they seemed to have learned from their mistakes and have maintained success with their streaming services.
18.) McDonald’s Arch Deluxe
The Arch Deluxe is one of the biggest McDonald’s flops of all time. The company debuted a new burger that was targeted towards adults craving a more “gourmet burger experience.”
The Arch Deluxe had a huge marketing campaign behind it and boasted delicious, high-quality ingredients and toppings. Many people even said the burger was delicious, but the idea failed to catch on with McDonald’s customers and was eventually discontinued.
READ MORE: Top 5 Fast Food Menu Flops
17.) Clairol Touch of Yogurt Shampoo
It may seem weird, but the idea of yogurt shampoo didn’t catch on with consumers back in the ’70s at all. Although the ’70s fad was about returning to the earth and being natural, for some reason, a yogurt shampoo didn’t seem to make sense to a lot of people.
Some people even mistook the shampoo for yogurt and ended up sick. This huge product fail shows that it’s really all about branding. Nowadays you can find several hair products advertising dairy products in them. It’s all about how you brand it.
16.) Maxwell House Brewed Coffee in a Box
This one is actually hilarious because had it simply been marketed differently, it could have been a huge industry changer. In 1990 Maxwell House came out with ready-to-drink prebrewed coffee in a box. They targeted morning coffee drinkers who wanted to cut out brewing time.
This was launched right before Starbucks completely revolutionized the coffee industry as we know it. Some say that this product was simply ahead of its time. Had it been launched today, would it be received well? Who knows? All we know is that needing to heat up the coffee in the microwave and drink it hot defeated the purpose of cutting down time. Instead, why not market it as a good summer iced coffee drink, or even, I don’t know, cold brew?
15.) Hot Wheels and Barbie Computers
This instantly screams bad idea upon first glance. It’s almost a no-brainer that a desktop computer created by toy company would flop, but alas, it still happened. Mattel, riding on the success of their popular toys, decided to launch a computer line geared toward children, one that was Hot Wheels-themed and the other Barbie-themed.
This terrible idea flopped for several reasons, including failed software, overpricing and the bankruptcy of PC Computers, the manufacturer. Even today, a $600 computer with lackluster technology seems way too expensive for a bright-colored computer system with flames running along the sides.
14.) Twitter Peek
Single-product devices usually don’t fare well in the technology market, especially nowadays where we have devices that efficiently merge everything you need into one. However, back in 2011, Twitter thought they’d try their hand at putting their popular app in one device.
Twitter Peek was the gadget that allowed you to, well, tweet, and nothing else. When the Peek was first launched as an email-only device, it seemed like it could be useful for some. But when Twitter released its own version, it completely flopped at doing exactly what it was created to do: read tweets, send out tweets and be user-friendly.
13.) HP TouchPad
There were exactly 49 days between the launch date and the demise of the HP TouchPad.The TouchPad is yet another device that crushed under the weight of the popularity of Apple products. The iPad had already been released and the iPad 2 was on its way to the shelves.
After the HP TouchPad launched, it only sold 25,000 units, and the company soon announced it was discontinuing the device.
12.) Watermelon Oreos
We’ve got uh-oh Oreos, mint Oreos and even cookie dough Oreos, but do you remember watermelon Oreos? If you don’t remember them at all, it’s probably because they are one of the brand’s failed flavor attempts. Watermelon just seems like a strange combo for a cookie, doesn’t it?
It turns out the watermelon Oreos were a limited-edition release, but they didn’t get much love from the Oreo fans when they were around. If you tried this, let us know: Were they good? Or were they a failed product?
11.) Cosmopolitan Yogurt
We’ve got the really weird launch of Cosmopolitan yogurt. No, not the drink, but the women’s magazine Cosmopolitan started selling yogurt back in 1999.
Maybe the people at Cosmo thought, “How nice would it be to enjoy some yogurt while flipping though the spring fashion issue?” Who knows? All we know is that it made consumers say WTF back then and we’re still saying WTF now. Cosmopolitan yogurt was gone from the shelves just as quickly as it popped up.
10.) Amazon Fire Phone
Amazon decided to enter the smartphone market with the Fire Phone in 2014. However, Amazon realized the phone was very unsuccessful. They discontinued their failed product a year later. But in a crowded space dominated by Apple and Android devices, simply releasing something adequate isn’t enough.
To stand out, a smartphone like the Fire, which arrived seven years after the first iPhone and six years after the first Android device, requires breath through hardware and software. The company’s CEO Tom Szkutak indicated that the pricing strategy was to blame for this product fail.
9.) Google Glass
Google Glass did cause quite a stir. It was a bold attempt to bring the world a step further into the information age. The idea was great, but the execution and development weren’t. And it wasn’t long before people realize that these odd-looking glasses didn’t live up to the hype.
Ultimately, the failure of the Google Glass was a result of bad marketing. Google did not sell the first version of the product in stores.
8.) Pepsi Blue
Back in 2002, Pepsi launched a new beverage known as Pepsi Blue. Part of their campaign involved an aggressive linking and word of mouth effort online. Not surprisingly, it offended a lot of people.
Not only did it fail miserably, but the title of the product also took on a new meaning.
7.) Trump Steaks
Donald Trump kicked off his “world’s greatest” line of premium steaks in 2007. There was a jam-packed press event that was all about The Donald. This focus may have contributed to the product’s downfall, as the steak was all about Trump — and not about quality.
Consumers didn’t agree with the description ‘great’. The product was discontinued after just two months for sales failures.
6.) Jimmy Dean Chocolate Chip Pancake-Wrapped Sausage
This Jimmy Dean sausage product is not a failure in the literal sense. It has endured on store shelves to this day, and in a variety of flavors, including Original, Blueberry and Chocolate Chip.
The product may be considered a failure in aesthetics: taking two perfectly fine breakfast foods and mixing them together, on a stick.
5.) Burger King Satisfries
Burger King claimed that Satisfries were healthier than regular fries. The company used a healthy batter that prevented more oil from being absorbed during frying.
Unfortunately, Burger King failed to clearly promote that difference at its restaurants. The calories also didn’t seem to measure up.
4.) Microsoft Office Assistant Clippy
Microsoft introduced Clippy in November 1996. The company refined him three years later in Microsoft Office 2000. He went into retirement two years later, when he was turned off by default. In 2007, Microsoft Office dismissed him all together.
Clippy is famous for being one of the worst user interfaces ever deployed to the mass public. He stopped users to ask them if they needed help with basic tasks, like writing a letter or making a spreadsheet.
3.) Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino
Starbucks introduced the aesthetically-pleasing beverage and it wreaked havoc on the employees. The company offered the drink for a limited time only. It made people freak out of how good it looked on their Instagram feeds.
However, the taste didn’t live up to the hype and left many people disappointed. Customers hated the sparkly concoction so much that the internet is buzzed with anti-Unicorn posts.
In the late 90’s the startup Napster was launched. Napster offered free music sharing services and was used by more than 80 million people.
Soon enough, however, lawsuits against the company for copyright infringement began to pile up and Napster had to end their services.
1.) McDonald’s Mighty Wings
Last but not least, we have some wings. McDonald’s wanted to lure customers with their new Mighty Wings meal. Instead, CEO Don Thompson said that the chicken wings weren’t the success they were looking for.
The Mighty Wings were a premium product. The wings come in packs of three for $3.69, five for $5.59, and 10 for $9.69. Thompson said the prices were “not the most competitive.”
Do you remember any of these hilarious product fails?