It was a good summer for foodies. Between the cronut, a croissant-doughnut combo that’s fried but lighter than air, and the ramen burger, a beef patty stuffed between two fried noodle cakes, we’ve had an interesting run. But, of course, with the good comes the bad. (Who remembers the Hula Burger from McDonald’s?) From Crystal Pepsi to Cheetos Lip Balm, see the culinary innovations we probably could have done without.
Heinz EZ Squirt Colored Ketchup by Heinz
At the turn of the millennium, Heinz executives asked themselves a question that had troubled society for years (or possibly never). How do you improve ketchup, the all-American condiment? The answer they came up with? Change the color to green. The company sold more than 25 million bottles of its artificially colored EZ Squirt ketchup in the early 2000s and wound up offering the product in purple, blue, and “mystery color.” But the product was discontinued in 2006 after consumers lost interest.
Canned Cheeseburger by Trekking Mahlzeiten
Pop quiz. You’re in the wilderness, but you really want a cheeseburger. What do you do? Reach for Trekking-Mahlzeiten’s canned cheeseburger, of course. All you need to do is throw the can into hot water, let it simmer for a minute or two, open the can, and voilà! Instant dinner. It may have been not be the tastiest burger you ever had, but with a shelf life of 12 months and no requirement for refrigeration, what could be more convenient?
Pancake & Sausage on a Stick by Jimmy Dean
Hectic mornings often mean there isn’t a whole lot of time for breakfast. For those of us who are too busy to prepare both pancakes and sausages, Jimmy Dean helpfully introduced the first ever sausage-wrapped-in-pancake combo. On a stick. These convenient morsels even found their way onto The Daily Show, leaving host Jon Stewart to note that America continues “to push the envelope on what can technically be defined as food.”
Carbonated Yogurt by Fizzix
It’s fizzy. It’s in a tube. It’s yogurt. Fizzix, Yoplait’s attempt to make yogurt more attractive to teenagers, hit the market in 2007. The idea was conceived by a food scientist at Brigham Young University, who added dry ice to the cultured dairy on a lark. The rest, as they say, is history.
Canned Whole Chicken by Sweet Sue
It’s not clear who exactly would be interested in a whole canned chicken. Except maybe for the novelty of it. And then there’s the goo.
Pepsi A.M. by Pepsi
There’s no better way to start your day than with a sugary soda with extra caffeine. Pepsi A.M. was Pepsi’s attempt to get people to drink soda in the morning instead of coffee or tea. The soft drink had 28 percent more caffeine than regular Pepsi but 77 percent less than coffee. But the idea didn’t go very far, and the product was off the market almost as quickly as it arrived.
Gerber Singles by Gerber
The year was 1974. Gerber decided it was high time to introduce pureed meals for adults. Packaged in jars that were suspiciously similar to baby food containers, Gerber Singles were marketed to college students and other adults on the go. But the product had a short lifespan and was quickly pulled from supermarket shelves.
The McLobster by McDonald’s
The McLobster is only available in certain parts of Canada a few times a year, but it elicits a strong reaction from both its lovers and haters. Available for the low, low price of $6.77 (that’s in U.S. dollars), the sandwich is supposedly made from 100 percent real Atlantic lobster. Yum, yum.
Coors Rocky Mountain Spring Water
For a short time, Coors attempted to break into the bottled water business with its Rocky Mountain sparkling beverages. The waters came in original, lemon-lime, and cherry flavors, but the company kept the Coors logo on the front of the bottle. Customers, apparently, were confused, and sales were poor. The item didn’t last for long.
Cheetos Lip Balm
One of the downsides to eating Cheetos is the orange residue that gets left on your fingers. Cheetos lip balm sidestepped the problem entirely. The downside? The florescent orange tube left your lips tasting like artificial cheese.
Sylvester Stallone Pudding
It’s true. Sylvester Stallone had a pudding. The high-protein, low-carb snack was popular among bodybuilders, who liked that it had 20 grams of protein but no sugar. It wasn’t the most lucrative venture for Stallone, as he was sued for allegedly stealing someone else’s recipe. The product was eventually discontinued.
Life Savers Soda
Even though Life Savers Soda tested well with focus groups, it never really caught on with consumers. One theory why was that people were worried they’d be drinking liquid candy.
Colgate Kitchen Entrees
What could go wrong when a logo synonymous with brushing your teeth is slapped onto frozen dinner packages? Colgate tried to break into that market in 1982, but the endeavor was short-lived.
The saying “there’s always room for Jell-O” apparently didn’t apply to the brand’s celery flavor. That wasn’t the company’s only flop. Coffee, chocolate, and cola Jell-O didn’t last long, either.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Coca-Cola Company should have headed those wise words before it went and tinkered with its beloved product. In April of 1985, the company introduced New Coke, which Chairman Roberto Goizueta described as a “smoother, rounder yet bolder” version of the old product. But people wanted the original. Three months later, New Coke was off the market.
Lay’s WOW Potato Chips
To cut back on fat and calories, Lay’s fried its WOW potato chips in Olestra, a fat substitute that causes anal leakage. The chips were initially popular, but then the FDA mandated that the packaging include a label to alert consumers that they could experience abdominal cramping and loose stools after eating the product. Apparently, that didn’t make people want to pass the dip.
Hula Burger by McDonald’s
The Hula Burger was McDonald’s attempt to woo Catholics who can’t eat meat on Friday. The sandwich was a slice of grilled pineapple topped with cheese smushed between two buns. But the fast food chain quickly nixed the idea as the Filet-o-Fish gained popularity.
Fried Cheese Melt by Denny’s
Denny’s Fried Cheese Melt was a grilled cheese sandwich made with four fried mozzarella sticks. The idea prompted one NPR host to quip, “It’s really like the grilled cheese sandwich is smuggling the mozzarella sticks into your stomach.” It wasn’t half bad—how unappetizing could breaded melted cheese sticks be?—but it did prompt health concerns.
Pepsi has tried to reinvent itself many times over the years. Case in point: Crystal Pepsi. Just in case you wanted a Pepsi that wasn’t brown. Most people didn’t.
Coca-Cola with Lime
Launched in 2005, this soda didn’t last very long, either. But it’s got some diehard fans out there. A whopping 120 people “like” a Facebook page begging Coca-Cola to bring it back.
It’s tough to eat a piece of pizza and walk down the street. K! Pizzacone tried to solve that problem for busy New Yorkers by stuffing sauce and toppings into a dough cone. It wasn’t the most authentic way to eat pizza, and at $4.90 for a small cone, it was a bit expensive.