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 ...
#9. 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 Center
The 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.
#8. 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 and Cheetos-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 ...
Really, 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.
#7. Holiday-Flavored Pringles
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).
They'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?
#6. 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.
"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.
Besides, 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.
#5. 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.
"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:
There'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.