6 'Kid-Friendly' Products That Were Horrifying And Insane

Important institutions and billion-dollar companies are too chicken to make a five-year-old their vice president of marketing, so it's up to boring, suited adults. Obviously they miss their marks on occasion, since they're driven by profits instead of childlike wonderment. But sometimes they miss a mark so badly that they win up traumatizing a whole generation. Like how ...

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Danish Zoos Cut Up Dead Animals In Front Of Toddlers

In 2015, roughly 400 children gathered around the corpse of a euthanized lion to watch Simba get sliced into scientific bits.

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It's the circle of psychiatrist visits.

They also gave the kids a free anatomy lesson that would've been too graphic for an episode of House. This included trying to replicate the young lion's roar by blowing into its severed windpipe, and asking if anyone would like an eyeball before chopping off the head. Children as young as toddlers were shoved to the front, presumably to make sure they could properly smell their innocence dying.

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Then, when Copenhagen Zoo found itself with a giraffe "unfit for breeding," they shot in the head, cut it open in public, and threw its carcass to the lions. What, should they have lied and told those kids the unwanted animals had moved to another zoo far away to play with other giraffes and lions? Oh, a lot of foreign zoos offered to arrange exactly that? Oh well, that's no way to sell eyeball souvenirs.

Related: The 5 Most Terrifying Zoo Exhibits Ever

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A Hockey Team Made A Mascot Out Of A Historic Disaster

Meet Scorch, the first mascot of the Adirondack Flames, a minor league hockey team that moved to Glen Falls, New York from Abbotsford in 2014. This adorable spark seems like he's all fired up for the big game! And he's been fired up for a while, since he's officially "the sole surviving flame from the 1864 fire that ravaged the city of Glenn Falls."

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"Don't worry, kids, the smoke will kill you before I can!"

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Yep, this whimsical sports mascot is a reference to an actual tragic disaster. See, Glenn Falls used to have a bit of a flammability issue -- not one, not two, but three Great Fires have burned down most of the town over its history, plunging its residents into poverty each time. And wouldn't it be nice if they were constantly reminded of that by someone in an inappropriately cute oversized costume?

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In Scorch's introductory promo video, the silly little flame is seen striking down a firefighter and doing a jaunty Fortnite-like dance over the body. Scorch and his hero-murdering antics went over about as well as expected, and the team canned the anthropomorphic force of destruction. Afterward, Flames president Brian Petrovek admitted that "[w]hile it seemed in good taste when it was on the drawing board, it is now evident that it was in poor taste."

Must have been a hell of a drawing.

Related: 7 Famous Mascots (Who Once Looked Scary As Hell)

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Mattel Made A Homeless Doll For Rich Kids

Homelessness is a growing problem in the U.S., and that goes double for kids, 1 in 30 of whom don't have a race car bed to call their own. Most people prefer to ignore that issue. No more, said one U.S doll company, which decided to bravely advocate for homeless children ... for the low, low price of $95.

Bindle sold separately. MattelBindle sold separately.

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Nothing speaks to the struggles of homelessness quite like trying to sell rich kids unreasonably expensive dolls, right?

According to her backstory, Gwen lives in a car with her mother. Also included was a book and a movie titled Chrissa Stands Strong. You might notice that doesn't say "Gwen," and that's because the story is actually about a rich American Girl doll named Chrissa, and how she bravely defends Homeless Gwen from school bullies. Because, if you haven't figured it out, Gwen's only here to make the upper-middle class feel warm and fuzzy about themselves.

Gwen was a limited edition product, and Mattel was glad to be rid of her, since she was met with backlash from parents and homeless advocacy groups. The company did insist Gwen was meant to be a way for children to learn about homelessness and to send an anti-bullying message, but activists quickly pointed out that turning the whole situation into feel-good sop and not donating a single cent of the doll's proceeds to any organizations that help the homeless might not be the nicest way to raise awareness.

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Related: 7 Hilariously Failed Attempts At Politically Correct Toys

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An Educational Game About Slavery Was Super Racist

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In 1992, the Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation launched Freedom!, a slavery simulation game in which kids played a young African American boy in the 1830s trying to escape his plantation. The game's zealous adherence to "historical accuracy" made it a magnet for racism, as it portrayed its black characters as intellectually ... lacking, spouting lines like "I sees a runnin' look in yo' eyes, chile."

An Indiana parents' group sued both the developers and the school district, asserting that Freedom! "Nintendoized" slavery, turning a harrowing genocide into entertainment (though how much "entertainment" is debatable). One black family in Arizona launched their own lawsuit, as their 11-year-old son's classmates used the game to mock him. "He woke up crying at night. He was upset that he was being thought of as a slave." Jesus.

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After only a few months, MECC pulled Freedom! from shelves and classrooms. They also told school districts to destroy any copies they had, so we guess a Switch remake isn't coming anytime soon.

Related: The 6 Most Politically Incorrect Video Game Moments

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A Website Recommended That Kids Cosplay As Holocaust Victims

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas is a gripping novel that redraws the unmentionable horrors of the Holocaust through the eyes of children, as they imbue the horror and carnage with playful innocence, even while being viciously stripped of that very blessing. Or, if you're a children's lit website, it's a fun kid's book about pajamas!

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Parenting blogger Bron Mandile (aka Maxabella Love) had a busy schedule. Writing for the Australian website Children's Book Daily, she had to think up 23(!) easy, no-fuss costumes for kids based on books. After exhausting every variation of the Hogwarts uniform, she recalled The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, which had a costume right in the dang title! Sure, it was in fact a novel for adults. About the Holocaust. In which 1.5 million children were tortured and murdered. And the titular "striped pajamas" are a concentration camp prisoner's uniform. But that's why she recommended it only for "older primary kids to honour."

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The enormous backlash prompted Children's Book Daily to scrap the article, though many wanted the site to keep it as yet another entry in the Museum Of Easily Preventable Internet Mistakes. Also pushing for a teachable moment was Dvir Abramovich, head of the Australian Anti-Defamation Commission, who used the incident as part of their advocacy for mandatory Holocaust education -- preferably before someone in Melbourne named their German language summer camp "Mein Kampf."

Related: 8 Racist Halloween Costumes People Apparently Still Wear

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Children's Books Keep Insisting That Black People Loved Slavery

A Fine Dessert and A Birthday Cake For George Washington are two amazing literary resources on American slavery. Yes, they truly teach us all how to absolutely not tackle that issue.

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2015's A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat, written by children's author Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, shows children throughout the ages learning to make a sugary mess called blackberry fool. It drew some pretty sharp criticism because of one particular entry, set on a South Carolina plantation in 1810. That might be because the book portrays the protagonists, an enslaved mother and her enslaved daughter, having the time of their lives picking blackberries, making the dessert for their white owners, and finally hiding in a closet to lick the master's bowl clean.

Nothing tastes better than leftovers mixed with spit.
Sophie Blackall/ScholasticNothing tastes better than leftovers mixed with spit.

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Jenkins apologized for the insensitivity, and donated her writing fee to the We Need More Diverse Books initiative. And that would've been the end of that, except that publisher Scholastic has a very short memory. Barely a year later, they gave the go-ahead to A Birthday Cake For George Washington, another installment in their sweets 'n' slaves genre.

Written by Ramin Ganeshram and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, it tells the "true" story of an enslaved cook named Hercules who loved baking treats for his favorite president/owner, George Washington. Of course, the true true story was that Hercules tried to escape Washington's estate countless times, and eventually did so only by abandoning his entire family, whom the Washingtons refused to free.

Whitewashing has never smelled more delicious.Vanessa Brantley-Newton/ScholasticWhitewashing has never smelled more delicious.

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Both Scholastic and Ganeshram defended the book, with the latter mentioning "slave work pride" -- a term you usually only hear muffled by a white hood. A small portion of justice was eventually served, as the publisher gave in and pulled the book when they realized people simply weren't that into pretending slavery was merely a misunderstood vocational training program.

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