8 of the Worst Promotional Items in Movie History

They couldn’t even ride some of the world’s largest waves of interest
8 of the Worst Promotional Items in Movie History

Making promotional items for popular movies should be easy money. All you really have to do is slap your choice of beloved character onto an item, and watch the piggies slurp up the slop. That’s why it’s more impressive to make a piece of promo merch that fails. It means you devised an item so unpleasant that even people who have made the franchise in question part of their personality arent willing to go to bat for it.

Here are eight of those items…

The Jar Jar Binks Tongue Lollipop

Star Wars Holocron on X

If movie merch is easy money, Star Wars merch is free lunch. It’s one of the biggest intellectual properties on the planet, with fans that love it so much they have, inadvisably, made it a central part of their daily wardrobe. But one item that even the most rabid Star Wars fan didn’t have a taste for was this nightmarish Jar Jar Binks tongue lollipop. Even if Jar Jar Binks wasn’t the most widely hated Star Wars character ever introduced, the idea of a lollipop that replicates the experience of French kissing a character, textured tongue and all, is just not a treat.

The Phone from The Matrix

If you look at this arcade-prize-looking beast of a cell phone, and think back to fond memories of The Matrix, you might be a little confused. The thought, “I feel like I remember Neo having a regular Nokia” might cross your mind. Thats because he did! It was a cash-grab canon adjustment in the second movie, The Matrix Reloaded, that all the characters were suddenly using this weird Samsung joint, that oh-so-conveniently was available for purchase. Obviously, its horrendously ugly, even by tech nerd standards, but even worse for a phone marketed to aspiring hackers, it was remarkably obsolete when released, featuring no camera and no internet access.

E.T. Atari Game


This admittedly cool art is going to be the most enjoyable part of this experience.

In the world of video games, there might not be a single game more infamously dogshit than the Atari 2600 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial tie-in. The rushed production ended up with a game that looked awful and was actually worse in action. The most common adjective you see in writing about the game is “unplayable,” and its almost hard to find more specific criticism because of the sheer magnitude of things it gets wrong. When sales for something are so bad you end up burying copies of it in the desert, you kinda blew it.

Darth Vader Burger


Ah. How… edible looking.

The second piece of Episode I promotional offerings on this list is the “Darth Vader Burger” offered by foreign fast-food chain Quick. You could argue that it served, more than anything else, as a PR stunt built on advertising one of the least edible looking meals ever offered. Still, that means that Quick locations had to have bags of these buns, which look like they were retrieved from a freshly cracked mummys tomb, in case any unwell man actually ordered it.

Little Mermaid Fish Nuggets

Disney/American Pride Foods

Its only half-cannibalism!

I’m sure the fish nuggets themselves were fine, or at least fine enough to pass FDA approval. Is it weird that Disney makes food? A little, but at this point Disney probably has their hand in oxycodone production. What’s more unpleasant is their idea to pair fish nuggets with a spokeswoman that is literally part-fish. Just imagine each bite is a piece of the confusing, mystical musculature of Ariel’s bottom half!

Denny’s Hobbit Menu


Not a fan of “less is more” either in portions or graphic design sensibilities.

In terms of actual movie-to-product connection, this is kind of cute. Hobbitses, as that wet guy calls them, are known for their many meals and love of overeating. Theyve even got an iconic connection to the phrase “second breakfast,” which makes a collaboration with hotcake house Dennys kind of brilliant. Where the misstep exists is in making almost every item intensely vomit-inducing. Sure, theres reasonable options like the “Dwarves Turkey & Dressing Dinner,” but your eye cant help but be drawn to the “Hobbit Hole Breakfast” which looks like an edible fractal designed to break a commercial toilet.

Dune Coloring Books

Grosset & Dunlap

“Dad, what color is the skin of a dead man?”

Dune is back in the insane merch discussion with their sand-worm popcorn bucket, but its not the first disturbing accompaniment released with a movie version. Alongside David Lynchs version in 1984 was a coloring book, which tells me that some executive was clearly ready for it to be the next Star Wars, and had also never read or seen Dune. This confusing middle ground is perfectly represented by the page in which your child could have the opportunity to color in two corpses.

The Dilberito


Its like putting your intestines through SEAL training.

Okay, so there might never have been a Dilbert movie, even though attempts were apparently made. It was a TV show, however, and what is TV but smaller movies, in your house? Look, I just want to include Dilbert because I will take any opportunity to discuss the “Dilberito,” a Dilbert-themed microwaveable burrito. This wasn’t any quick, slap a character on the cardboard box surface-level branding, either. Creator and online psycho Scott Adams was directly involved in its formulation, and his vision wasn’t just a half-fun option for time-squeeze office diarrhea, but a revolutionary, healthy lunch option

But when it was finished, he had created an absolute fucking disgrace. “Three bites of the Dilberito made you fart so hard your intestines formed a tail” was the description given by Adams himself, far enough into the future to admit defeat.

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