Accidentally discovered by chemists at Proctor and Gamble in 1968 who were probably trying to find some way to make birth control come in Skittles flavors, Olestra is a food additive that can be used as a substitute for fat. For a world in love with chips, donuts and bacon-wrapped bacon, Olestra should have been the second coming of Jesus. Sweet, greasy Jesus.
Sure, there have been other fat substitutes before, but they either didn't work or made the food taste like, well, some chemical that came out of a lab. Olestra was different. A magic bullet that reduces fat but didn't leave an aftertaste like axle grease. Its downfall can be traced to the two most horrible words in the English language: anal leakage.
How It Didn't Change Shit:
Olestra-filled products initially flew off the shelves. In one year alone, $400 million worth of the fat substitute-filled snacks were sold. Olestra looked like the best idea since people stopped letting Rob Schneider make movies. People started to imagine a world where they could eat like pigs and still be thin without sticking their fingers down their throats.
In 2000, sales of Olestra had halved. Late night talk show hosts and hack comedians everywhere joked about it. The product that was supposed to change the way the world snacked was a bust. Why? It all came down to the warning label:
Olestra may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools.
In fairness, eating just a few Olestra-laden chips wasn't going to make you Spackle your shorts with greasy ass jelly. The side effect usually only occurred if someone ate an excessive amount of Olestra in a really short time. However, even a small chance of anal leakage is still too much of a chance for even the most Cheezie-addicted customers.
Is There Any Hope?
No need to cry for the miracle product that was Olestra. Even though the FDA eventually removed the anal leakage warning because, apparently, no one was having anal leakage, people didn't really give a shit, so to speak. Rather than call it a total bust, Proctor and Gamble did the next best thing and turned Olestra into an industrial lubricant for small power tools.