12 Bizarre Product Launches That Failed Spectacularly

Every now and then, marketers come up with “genius” new products that will “revolutionize” the field – only to see them ridiculed as they prove to be completely out of touch with consumer desires.

Here are 12 product launches that failed spectacularly:

1. Starbucks cola coffee

bizarre product

Image courtesy of Starbucks via starbucksmelody

Cola is basically sweetened, carbonated coffee, right? Or is coffee decarbonated, un-sweetened coke? Either way, with the Starbucks-Pepsi collaboration Mazagran, you could experience both similar-looking liquids in one sparkling, cold, cola-flavored coffee.

2. New Coke/Crystal Pepsi


Images courtesy of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, via Coca-Cola and Wikipedia.

Basically, don’t mess with people’s cola. When Coca-Cola launched their “New Coke” in 1985, with a new formula, consumers were outraged, and the product soon cancelled.

In the same way, no one really wanted a cola that wasn’t oil-colored –  which Pepsi soon learned when they launched the caffeine-free, clear Pepsi Crystal in 1992.

3. Tropicana Orange Juice Cartons without oranges


Image courtesy of Pepsi via Astuteo.

Maybe not as bad as it sounds, but it shows the power of branding – when Tropicana redesigned their packaging in 2009, cartons no longer displayed a fresh-looking orange, but simply a close-up of glass of orange juice. Sales plummeted 20% within two months.

4. The World’s Ugliest Car?

bizarre product

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Now more famous for the role it played in Breaking Bad, the Pontiac Aztek has been universally panned as one of the ugliest cars around, with an inexplicable, stunted design meant to create a hybrid of sports vehicles and SUVs. Truly a bizarre product.

5. Colgate frozen dinners


Image courtesy of Colgate via The NWO.

For millions of people, Colgate is essentially synonymous with toothpaste. That’s a good thing, if you’re selling toothpaste. But if you’re trying to break into the frozen dinner market – not so much. The launch of Colgate frozen entrees failed, predictably.

6. The Hula burger


Not actual Hula Burger pictured. Photo courtesy of Duct Tape Wedding Ring.

The original veggie burger. Introduced in 1962, McDonald’s Hula burger was essentially a Big Mac with a slice of grilled pineapple instead of the beef patty. Sounds better than pink slime, anyway.

7. Celery-flavored Jell-O


Image courtesy of Jell-O via Sociological Images.

Kids love Jell-O, but they hate celery. If you make celery-flavored Jell-O, maybe they’ll eat celery? Actually, wait a minute. Apparently misunderstanding the appeal of their product, Jell-O decided in the ‘60s to flavor their product with – among other things – celery and salad.

8. Smokeless cigarettes


Image courtesy of greensboring.

What’s the use of smoking a cigarette if you can’t derisively blow smoke at pedestrians? How can people even tell that you’re smoking a cigarette?!

Apparently, the idea of a smokeless cigarette was too ahead of its time in the ‘80s, when RJ Reynolds launched a cigarette that didn’t burn the tobacco, but rather just drew hot air from a smokeless coal piece over tobacco and a “flavoring capsule.”

9. Football wrestling


Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

It’s no secret that America’s favorite pastime is watching big, burly men in funny suits crash into each other. Who doesn’t enjoy a good football match, or some wrestling? How about combining the two?

That was a step too far for sports fans, as witnessed by the single failed season of XFL, which had promised to bring the theatrics and fake violence of wrestling to football.

10. Toaster eggs


Image courtesy of Mama quiero ser publicista.

Sometimes, maybe you just wanna have some scrambled eggs, without the hassle of cooking or even seeing an actual egg. Toaster eggs, a miraculously failed product, offered just that, with a frozen slab of pre-cooked egg you could pop in the toaster.

11. Frito-Lays chips with fake fat


Images courtesy of Frito-Lays via Wikipedia and poplicks.

Wow! Amazing new chips with no fat or cholesterol! Ignore the FDA-mandated label that warns of “abdominal cramping” and “loose stools.” Have as many chips as you’ve ever wanted!

12. Pre-packed cereal


Image courtesy of Kellogg’s via YouTube.

Cereal is great, but what sucks about it is that you have to have fresh milk in order to eat it. Kellogg’s Breakfast Mates was a bizarre product designed with that exact woe in mind – combining cereal and warm shelf-stable milk in a serving-sized carton, ready to eat.


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Ole Skaar