Special Report

The Biggest Food and Drink Flops in Recent History

Source: jetcityimage / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

Breakfast Mates
> Brand: Kellogg’s
> Year introduced: 1998
> Year discontinued: 1999

Convenience may be king, but only to a point. Kellogg’s must have thought that they were really onto something in 1998 when they introduced Breakfast Mates, a self-contained kit that included cereal that could be eaten right from the package, along with a disposable spoon and a little container of shelf-stable milk. It turned out that people didn’t actually mind preparing themselves a bowl of cereal the old-fashioned way, and the whole concept of milk that didn’t need to be refrigerated was a little unsettling. Breakfast Mates stuck around for a year before being kicked to the curb.

Source: usepagov / Flickr

WOW! Chips
> Brand: Frito-Lay
> Year introduced: 1998
> Year discontinued: 2000 (?)

If you ever ate Lay’s WOW! Chips, which were introduced in 1998, then you probably already know why they were discontinued a scant two years later. These chips almost seemed too good to be true: By frying the chips in a fat substitute called Olestra instead of regular oil, the fat wasn’t absorbed by the body, essentially rendering the chips fat-free. The WOW! Chips (sold under the Lay’s, Ruffles, Doritos, and Tostitos brands) sold extremely well the first year, but they came with, shall we say, some uncomfortable side effects, including abdominal cramping, and diarrhea. Oh well.

Source: Joel Carillet / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

Cosmopolitan Yogurt
> Brand: Cosmopolitan magazine
> Year introduced: 1999
> Year discontinued: 2001

Another example of a brand extension that just didn’t make sense, in 1999 Cosmopolitan magazine for some reason decided to get into the yogurt business. Aimed at women aged 15 to 44 and intended to expand the brand into the booming health food sector, the Cosmo-branded yogurts joined Cosmo-branded clothing, linens, eyewear, and watches in an effort to make the magazine a full-on lifestyle brand. The line of low-fat yogurts never sold very well, and were pulled from shelves in 2001.

Source: Courtesy of Heinz

EZ Squirt ketchup
> Brand: Heinz
> Year introduced: 2000
> Year discontinued: 2006

In the world of condiments, there are three inalienable truths: mustard is yellow, mayo is white, and ketchup is red. Heinz decided to put this to the test in 2000 when they launched EZ Squirt ketchup, which came in colors including green, purple, pink, orange, teal, and blue. It was certainly fun to eat, and kids couldn’t get enough of it, but adults wouldn’t go anywhere near it. Six years later, it was but a Technicolor memory.

Source: Graeme J. Baty / Getty Images

Funky Fries
> Brand: Ore-Ida
> Year introduced: 2002
> Year discontinued: 2003

For a brief, shining moment in the early aughts, it was possible to eat a blue French fry with green ketchup. We have Heinz EZ Squirt to thank for the ketchup, and for the fries we can thank Ore-Ida, which launched Funky Fries in 2003. These fries were indeed funky; along with blue fries, the lineup also included fries that were chocolate-flavored and cinnamon-flavored. But fries are already the perfect food, and after a year of pumping marketing dollars into the product, the company discontinued it in 2003.

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