There's a saying: "If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door." That saying is bullshit. You could create the most effective way to dispose of rodents the world has ever seen, but without funds, proper infrastructure, competent groundwork, those dicks in marketing, and plenty of luck, you'll be as successful as the Pied Piper of Hamelin screaming about his pest-removal services on the street corner while drunkenly smearing himself with human shit.
This means that, occasionally, products that should revolutionize the world will just dwindle and disappear like a fart in the wind. Some of them we remember, others we unnecessarily revile, and others still we barely register were ever there. These are their stories.
#5. A Chili Dog That Isn't A Ridiculous Mess
Do you like chili dogs? Do you like cheese dogs? Of course you do, because you're a sane human. But because of the mess they cause, they're completely impossible to eat without a spoon, which kind of defeats the purpose of a hand-held delicacy like that in the first place.
But the wise, forgotten engineers of the 1980s were able to devise an amazing way to eat them without looking like a heathenous glutton. Frank 'n Stuffs solved the problem by putting the chili and/or cheese inside the hot dog, and how they never won a Nobel Peace Prize and abolished all conflict from the world I'll never know. Behold:
You know you're in for something awesome when the ad for the product features
a reanimated corpse offering you money.
Frank 'n Stuffs were so good that people kept buying them despite the risk of having their mouths sliced open. They debuted in 1986 during a period of labor unrest, and some fucker planted razor blades in packages of the hot dogs. A Blade Frank (or what Wolverine's closest friends call him) wound up in a couple of packages in a few supermarkets, as part of a more widespread campaign that sabotaged a range of Hormel products.
Can this kill a product? Absolutely. Individual assholes can and constantly do ruin awesome things for everyone. Ronald Clark "human buttplug" O'Bryan laced a bunch of Pixy Stix with cyanide in 1974, and people to this day are still getting shit-scared about poisoned Halloween candy.
But whether everyone was too busy watching Top Gun and Aliens to really pay attention to the news, or Frank 'n Stuffs were just so good that people were willing to risk looking like The Joker to have them, someone must've enjoyed them as much as I clearly would have, because they stuck around until the 1990s, when they suddenly disappeared.
Why then? My theory: shit advertising. Frank 'n Stuffs were always marketed with a mild horror angle, which is not the best tactic when it comes to foods with ingredients as questionable as hot dogs. Here's the ad they used to convince you to eat one:
Evil laughter is always the best way to wrap up an ad.
For those who didn't watch the video: It's a short horror mansion dinner scene with a vague Rocky Horror Picture Show vibe, only Frank N. Furter -- the only character from the film whose presence would be justified -- is replaced with a generic mad-professor type. I'm not sure if this change is a good or a bad idea, but the ad's big reveal of the product definitely falls into the latter category:
You know what they say about never looking inside a Hot Pocket.
I don't know what fucking coprophile dreamed up that idea, but that's the exact way not to advertise a mashup of two delicious things that both already have the disadvantage of looking like various bits hanging around pelvic areas. Add to that the fact that the product's mascot was a type of Frankenstein's monster -- a shambling collection of dead, stitched-together meat tubes and -- shit, you know what? Now they've weaned me off chili dogs, and I've constantly wanted a chili dog since 1998. Good job, Hormel.
#4. Disneyland For Europeans
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images News/Getty Images
As unbeatable as a company like Disney may seem, it will make you happy to know that even a global mass-media conglomerate that controls roughly 108 percent of your favorite franchises occasionally manages to set its blaster on rapid fire and shoot itself in the dick. Or maybe that makes you sad. I don't know your story; I don't want to make assumptions.
By the 1980s, Disney World and Disneyland had cemented their reputation as America's favorite locations to projectile vomit overpriced cotton candy on a dude in a Pluto costume. The next logical step was to take the show on the road and let Mickey loose across the pond. They did everything right: years of planning, a prime site near Paris, all the things you'd expect from experienced professionals.
Euro Disney Resort opened in 1992, to the kind of fanfare usually reserved for winning the World Cup. The rides were great. The shows were great. The experience was powered by the same barely concealed abject horror that made its American counterparts such smash hits. Nothing whatsoever could go wrong.
Yet, everything would.
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images News/Getty Images
"Wait, why is everyone speaking French?"
Yes, I'm aware that Euro Disney is still around (since renamed Disneyland Paris, because someone in the company finally noticed the old name is basically the local equivalent of "Dollar Disney"). However, it's one of the most inexplicable money pits for the entire company: It has been bleeding cash from all orifices for over 22 years, with no sign of stopping.
The problems started immediately. The park would have been bankrupt within two years of opening if a wealthy Saudi family hadn't bought a good chunk of it in 1994. Then in 2012, Disney had to throw it a $1.7 billion bailout. That still wasn't enough, and last year they gave it another $1.25 billion. Despite all these insane monetary injections, the resort is notoriously balls deep in debt ($2.2 billion, if you're curious), yet somehow continues to shamble on.
Adam Berry/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Sometimes the executives will send Euro Mickey out to beg with the homeless.
Lots of possible explanations have been given for the struggle of the resort: insane operating costs, overly optimistic revenue estimations, problems with personnel ... even the "curmudgeonly French intellectuals talking shit about the place" card was played at one point (to be fair, they totally were, but few multi-billion-dollar enterprises have been toppled by cranky old philosopher types muttering into their cappuccinos). Still, seeing as the place does attract visitors and by all reason should be the kind of money factory its Stateside sibling resorts are, it's kind of just an open fissure on the asshole of Disney.
#3. Ghostbusters And Hi-C Team Up
Apart from old-school gamer types still chasing that magic jolt from mainlining Surge during their 1996 Quake-a-thons, very few drinks of yesteryear enjoy more nostalgic yearning than Ecto-Cooler. The Ghostbusters-themed drink was part of the Hi-C juice family and championed by mascot Slimer, most famous for temporarily rendering Bill Murray un-huggable. These were the drink's chief properties:
1) It was really, really green.
Consequence of Sound
At least it wouldn't show when you spilled it on your neon green clothing.
Jokes aside, this citrus chemical cocktail was actually pretty good. So good, in fact, that it proved more durable than most things associated with the franchise. It survived Ghostbusters II and The Real Ghostbusters cartoon, created a considerable following, and stayed on the shelves in some form or another until 2007 -- when it disappeared abruptly, as products in this column are wont to do.
There was no rhyme or reason to the sudden disappearance of the popular drink, apart from the fact that it was owned by the Coca-Cola Company and therefore subject to all the random, "Hey, what if we made a New Coke?" bullshit decisions they're notorious for. Accordingly, its fans flipped their collective shit. The Internet is full of Facebook groups and Twitter campaigns trying to pester Coke into putting their least savory-looking hit drink back on the shelves. For those who can't wait that long, there are even DIY Ecto-Cooler recipes, though I have no idea how accurate they are. That's the downside to do-it-yourself projects: You have to do things, yourself. And I just can't get on board with that idea.
But popular products get discontinued all the time because of company shenanigans, production problems, and other horse manure. What makes this one different is that there's a new Ghostbusters movie on its way ... and it just so happens that Coke recently renewed Ecto-Cooler's trademark. With any luck, we'll actually get the chance to see whether our lust after beloved old products is genuine, or if nostalgia is just the modern form of being a lying douchebag.