5 Pieces Of Movie Merchandise That Missed The Point Entirely
When it comes to milking money out of a franchise, the only thing corporations aren't willing to do is entertain whether or not they should. But while the world slowly drowns in Chewbacca Furbies and deranged Batman water guns, know that it somehow gets even worse. Just look at ...
The Handmaid's Tale Wine Collection Encouraged You To "Give In To Seduction"
Making an alcoholic beverage to promote your TV show isn't an inherently bad idea. There's been official Game Of Thrones beer for years, because it was fun to drink with your friends while you watched the early seasons, and in later seasons it just helped you cope. But maaaybe you shouldn't sell fun party time hooch based on a fictional universe wherein women are systematically raped and forced into slavery.
As a reminder, The Handmaid's Tale is about a totalitarian society where fertile women are property of the state, forced to produce children for the ruling class. Main character Offred's name means "Of Fred," as in she's the legal property of a man. It's not exactly light fare that you watch with your gal pals while giggling over a fruity pinot noir.
The idea was in pretty bad taste, and the best thing we can say about it is that it was quickly scrapped. Well, after enough people pointed out that you shouldn't describe wine as a seduction you "may as well give in" to, then tie it into a show that routinely features rape. It's hard to think of something worse, outside of a Handmaid's Tale lingerie collection. Nah, on second thought, that joke is in bad taste, too, we sh- oh, it already happened.
Remember Spock's Helmet? No?
Remember that old episode of Star Trek in which Spock, who is part of the elite Spock patrol, pulls someone over for space speeding? Unless you've been sneaking into our office and reading our fanfiction, the answer is no. No, you do not.
As revealed in The Toys That Made Us, most people did not expect Star Trek to last long. And so, to eke out as much filthy lucre as possible before audiences moved on, a company called Remco shipped out all sorts of hastily assembled crap with the sort of careless, greedy abandon that would do a Ferengi proud.
They basically slapped the Star Trek logo and pictures of Leonard Nimoy on toys they already had laying around the warehouse. You could even get Star Trek tanks and helicopters. The passage of time did little to decrease the peddling of shoddy merch. Seven years after the unexpectedly popular Star Trek was cancelled, shelves were still being stocked with the aforementioned Vulcan hockey crossing guard gear. In addition to the "flashing light emitter with pulsing sonic sound," a sheet of stickers was included, so lucky children could spell out the name of their favorite character. Which we're reasonably sure happened exactly zero times.
The Garfield ... Jazz Album?
The '90s were a time of mass media uniformity. You watched whatever happened to be on TV, and you listened to whatever music your local store happened to be selling. With that in mind, can the people of 1991 be forgiven for allowing a jazz and blues album curated by a cartoon cat to be a thing? No. Absolutely not. 1991 was an incredible year for music. Anyone who bought this instead of Nevermind or The Black Album was either on the verge of death or carried a briefcase to elementary school.
Jazz and blues are perfectly fine, but why in the hell was a fictional character best known for eating lasagna calling the shots? Garfield's biggest problem is hating Mondays -- a day that has no special meaning to him, because he has no job or responsibilities. That doesn't exactly scream authoritative blues expert. Who was this aimed at? Why did this happen?
Fans believe that it stemmed from a Peanuts jazz album released two years earlier. That actually made some sense, as the TV specials were known for their jazzy music. But the takeaway instead seemed to be that "cartoon characters plus smooth jazz equals success," and poor Carl Anderson ended up getting second billing beneath Garfield on the hit track "Fat Is Where It's At," a smooth tribute to devouring food.
Legend has it that one day, Kidz Bop will cover that song, and then the great engine of pop culture will grind to a calamitous halt.
Fox And Denny's Named A Bacon Cheeseburger After A Jewish Superhero
When Fox rebooted Fantastic Four in 2015, they made the bold decision to announce it via a Denny's tie-in menu. Grandparents and drunk college students alike attempted to enjoy the Human Torch Skillet, Invisible Woman Slam, and Doom Lava Cake. But nothing quite matched the spectacle that was the Thing Burger.
A cheeseburger topped with bacon, eggs, and hashbrowns, all served on a cheese bun? Sounds deliciously ruinous! Provided, of course, that you aren't adhering to a kosher diet, which prohibits both bacon and the simultaneous consumption of meat and cheese. You know, like the Thing does.
Benjamin Jacob Grimm, aka the Thing, was co-created by legendary comics artist Jack Kirby, and like Kirby, he's Jewish. Kirby never explicitly stated this during his time with Marvel, but the clues were there (like in Kirby's Hanukkah card).
As later writers worked with the character, Grimm's Jewish heritage was made explicit, and it's played a significant role in several of his stories. He's discussed his religion with other characters, he prays and attends synagogue, and he even had a bar mitzvah to celebrate 13 years as a rock monster. So while the Thing Burger was an attempt to appeal to comic book fans, all it really did was showcase how little Fox knew or cared about the source material (or for that matter, knew or cared about their fans' cardiac health).
Dilbert Inexplicably Became The Face Of Terrible Health Food
Before his bizarre political rants, Scott Adams was best-known as the man behind Dilbert. Appearing in thousands of newspapers and countless office cubicles, the comic strip was beloved for its relatable mockery of office culture and corporate bureaucracy. And Dilbert's success spawned an empire of merchandise and spinoffs, from a TV show to a video game to a ... limited-edition Ben & Jerry's flavor?
You could see the appeal of TV and gaming, and hey, everyone likes ice cream. But absolutely nothing in any Dilbert comic had anything to do with Dilbertios, the line of Dilbert-branded microwave vegan burritos that were introduced to a confused America in 1999. You can still play the promotional Flash game!
Adams had ridiculously high aspirations for the product, hoping it would become "the blue jeans of food" while also making a dent in the nutritional problems that plague society. He had even presaged its glorious, society-altering arrival in a 1997 book. Their four different flavors did boast 100 percent of the recommended daily value for 23 different vitamins and minerals with a mere 350 calories, but unfortunately, that didn't leave much room for taste. The New York Times review, aptly titled "At Last, a Vitamin Pill Wrapped in a Tortilla," described it as something that "could have been designed only by a food technologist, or by someone who eats lunch without much thought to taste." Adams would go on to describe it a little more bluntly, saying that "three bites of the Dilberito made you fart so hard your intestines formed a tail."
But it was the marketing that was truly baffling, as the Dilberito seemed to consist largely of paradoxes. People interested in health food were unlikely to buy a frozen burrito, as the frozen burrito market consists of people who put no thought into the nutritional value of their diet. The Dilbert name meant little to people who had yet to enter the workforce, but the Dilberito was marketed predominately to college students, because they had the highest concentrated population of vegetarians. Even die-hard Dilbert fans had little reason to be interested, as the comic strip had done absolutely nothing to cultivate an interest in healthy eating, instead espousing the joys of junk food.
Adams claims he lost millions of dollars on the venture, and while he admitted that the taste was bad, he mostly blamed poor shelf placement and nefarious tactics from his competitors. That must explain the success of Doonesburritos, which are ubiquitous even to this day.
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