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Top 20 Junk Food and Drink Fails

Junk food is something we were warned about as children to eat only in moderation – a guilty pleasure you’d hide from the likes of Gordon Ramsey so he didn’t yell at you. Whether you love it or despise it you’ll want to know all about the top 20 junk food and drink fails. 

20. Maxwell House Coffee Fail

Coffee isn’t very hard to make at at home. Even in the way back times of the early 1990’s inexpensive coffee makers could brew a fresh pot of coffee in a few minutes. General Foods, the makers of Maxwell House Coffee had been making millions of dollars selling cans of coffee to people to brew at home. But like many companies who try to wring every last cent out of a market, they got the bright idea to sell already brewed coffee in the refrigerated section of supermarkets. Even though it was refrigerated customers were expected to heat it up in their microwaves. However, they had to be carful to pour the coffee into cups to heat up because the coffee came in a foil lined container. By the time you do this you’re coffee pot would have almost finished brewing so this product immediately failed. 

19. Jimmy Dean’s Breakfast on a Stick

One way to describe Jimmy Dean’s pancakes and sausage on a stick might be as an enduring failure, because it has indeed endured. The popular sausage maker wanted to expand its reach into the lucrative breakfast market. Pancakes and sausage are no brainers when it comes to popular breakfast food, but this doesn’t mean you should just throw out a product willy-nilly. Jimmy Dean already sold various combinations of frozen pancakes and sausage that could be heated up and ready to eat in a few minutes. Kids probably like the idea of a corn dog-like breakfast treat that combines a savory sausage wrapped in a pancake, including blueberry and chocolate chip. What about adults? It seems like breakfast on a stick is encouraging people to eat while they’re driving to work.

18. It’s Green Ketchup!

In a classic Star Trek episode called “By Any Other Name,” the Chief Engineer, Scotty tries to get an alien drunk on his prized Scotch. When this proves insufficient he resorts to a more exotic liquor. When the alien asks what it is, a now very inebriated Scotty smells it then answers, “It’s green.” This declaration pretty much sums up the inexplicable flirtation with green ketchup. For some reason Heinz thought it should mess with success. “Blastin’ Green” ketchup was a promotional tie in with the first Shrek movie. When the movie debuted green ketchup sales were really good, but kids soon lost interest and moved on to something else. Heinz didn’t move on, however, and went on to embarrass itself with other strange hues of ketchup including purple, orange and blue.

17. Drink Hubba Bubba Gum

Hubba Bubba chewing gum was introduced in 1979 by the Wrigley Jr. Company and found itself in intense competition with a similar gum called Bubblicious. Perhaps in an effort to break away from its gum rivals, Wrigley decided to inflict Hubba Bubba soda on an unsuspecting public. A 1988 commercial depicted kids hanging out in a diner enjoying cans of the carbonated pink beverage. Little kids are the only possible market for a bubble gum flavored soda, but apparently even most kids decided to stick to Coke and Pepsi. A diet version of the soda was released, but neither the full sugar or the sugar free version lasted very long and by the early 1990’s this strange soda had disappeared like a popping bubble.

16. I Pity the Cereal!

Mr. T was something of a pop culture icon in the 1980’s with his turn as Clubber Lang in Rocky III and as B.A. Baracus in the hit television series, The A-Team that ran for five years. He was such an icon that he rated his very own children’s breakfast cereal described by Quaker as a “crispy sweet corn and oats cereal.” Unfortunately for cereal lovers this particular junk food fail only managed to last a few years, but only a fool wouldn’t wish for it to make a comeback. It seems like Mr. T cereal should have been able to last longer, but the children’s cereal game is insanely competitive and the cereal itself was completely unremarkable.

15. B 2 the E Bud Extra

Budweiser knows how to sell beer and the company has sold a tremendous amount of it. Then they started selling Bud Extra. Bud Extra was a beer that had 6.6% alcohol and also contained caffeine, ginseng, and Guarana (a plant that contains twice as much caffeine as coffee beans). Products like this don’t make any sense beyond the marketing possibilities because alcohol, as every drinker knows, is a nervous system suppressant. Caffeine, on the other hand, is a nervous system stimulant so there’s no reason to combine the two in one product. There’s also the possibility that combining the two could be harmful to your health. The fact that Budweiser actually used “B-to-the-E” to market the product is reason enough for it to fail.

14. Say Squeezit

General Mills, the maker of Squeezit fruit drinks practiced truth in advertising with this product since kids indeed had to squeeze the plastic bottle to drink this fruity beverage. This product appeared in the middle of the 1980’s and lasted until the early 2000’s. It was reintroduced a couple of times in the mid 2000’s until General Mills accepted that Squeezit was a failure. Probably the most interesting thing about this product was that each flavor was represented by a different character whose image was sculpted into the plastic bottles. If there are any fans of Squeezit left, they’d probably want to get their hands on some of these now vintage bottles.

13. C’est la V!o

The Coca-Cola Company is one of the most successful companies in the world, but even they get it wrong once in a while. V!o was one of those times. This is a carbonated milk beverage that came in a couple of different flavors including Citrus Burst and Tropical Colada. Coca-Cola tested V!o in 2009 in the United States, but it did not find an audience. The company did start selling a similar drink in India in 2016. A similar drink called, Qoo is sold by Coca-Cola in Japan. This is clearly a cultural issue which is fine, but a supposedly savvy international corporation like Coca-Cola should have done its homework on this one.

12. Clear Soda

In 1992 PepsiCo came out with Crystal Pepsi, a transparent version of its soda – minus the caffeine. Or was this a transparent attempt to get some publicity during the height of the cola wars? There is a theory that contends Coca-Cola, with its introduction of Tab Clear, deliberately released a sub-par soda not to rival Crystal Pepsi, but to sabotage them both. Tab Clear was put out as a direct response to Crystal Pepsi, the original clear cola, and both clear sodas ended up paying the price Leaving out the caramel coloring isn’t such a big deal, but customers are used to the traditional color and all of this back and forth about clear colas ended up being one big fail.

11. Cosmo Yogurt 

Cosmopolitan, is a well known women’s magazine that has reputation for doling out sex tips to its readers. Somehow the people at Cosmo got in in their heads in 1999 that selling yogurt would fit into the magazine’s mission. Needless to say the readers did not respond to this new brand of yogurt and it was discontinued after only 18 months. This was a clear fail, but given the overall weirdness of this it it surprising it lasted even that long. It would have been fun to have been in the room when the editors of Cosmo congratulated themselves on their cleverness when this yogurt got the go ahead.

10. Another Shade of Blak

One of the more memorable lines in the mockumentary This is Spinal Tap is when the band members are considering a black album cover and one of them remarks “How much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.” In general Coca-Cola’s coffee flavored cola doesn’t sound like the worst idea, and there are a lot of people who like cola and coffee, so why was Coca-Cola Blak such a failure? Coca-Cola blamed its customers when the two year run was over saying that Americans just weren’t ready for a product that was ahead of its time. Maybe. In 2019 there were reports the soda giants was planning to bring back some form of coffee flavored cola. Maybe America is ready this time.

9. O.J.’s Cereal

Kelloggs has made a lot of successful breakfast cereals that millions of kids and adults have enjoyed. What exactly makes some run away successes and others – failures? For example Apple Jacks, Fruit Loops and Raisin Bran are breakfast staples, but in the 1980’s Kelloggs introduced O.J’s. cereal. This was an orange juice infused cereal that boasted as much vitamin c as a 4 oz. glass of juice. O.J.’s cereal even had a memorable mascot named OJ Joe who was a cowboy who rode an orange and wrangled oranges. For whatever reason it simply didn’t catch on with kids and became another junk food fail.

8. Watermelon Oreo Fail

Nabisco’s Oreo cookies have been one of America’s most popular cookies for decades. The company has come out with some reasonable variations such as double stuffed and chocolate covered. There have been seasonal varieties like Peeps Oreos at Easter and peppermint Oreos for Christmas. But the company has also pushed some  rather questionable flavors. Watermelon Oreos has to be pretty near the top of that list. It’s not like fruit can’t work – there have been Key Lime Oreos and Chocolate Covered Strawberry Oreos, but Watermelon Oreos seems completely random and unnecessary. Customers agreed so it became a junk food failure. 

7. Blood is Thicker than Soda

True Blood was a hit show on HBO. For a brief time this Southern Gothic vampire story had a good thing going, but not as much of a thing as its creators thought. Otherwise how do we explain the decision to introduce the beverage known as Tru Blood in 2011? Fans were apparently supposed to get a minor thrill out of pretending that they, like the vampires on the show, were drinking synthetic blood. Strangely, this drink contained both a lot of sugar and Splenda for a sickly sweet taste. Shouldn’t it have been salty like a V8? Anyway, it also contained caffeine and taurine – a real witches brew that may have been a novelty at some Halloween parties, but otherwise failed.

6. Colgate Lasagna

You might be wondering what Colgate, a maker of toothpaste for more than a century, has to do with lasagna. You’re not the only one. Pretty much everyone said “huh?” when Colgate rolled out its version of beef lasagna to customers in the 1980’s. While it’s true the 1980’s had more than its share of strange moments, it’s still hard to believe this was a real product. C’mon – Colgate lasagna? What Gives? This shouldn’t even be said out loud let alone actually eaten. Apparently no one did eat it because this bizarre frozen entree quickly disappeared from supermarkets and Colgate has tried to forget it ever happened – but can we?

5. New Coke

The introduction of so called New Coke by Coca-Cola in 1985 has the dubious distinction of being one of the biggest self-inflicted face plants in junk food fail history. It was originally billed as the replacement for original Coke, however, customers reacted so negatively to New Coke that within three months the original formula was reintroduced as Coca-Cola Classic. The ‘Classic’ in the name Coca-Cola Classic name faded away in time and we were left with the same original Coca-Cola. In 1992 New Coke officially became known simply as Coke. Many people who have commented on this debacle explain this unforced error as a misguided attempt to address the company’s main competitor, Pepsi. Despite the pain this saga caused the Coca-Cola Company in the short term, it actually did achieve the original goal of successfully challenging Pepsi’s rise.

4. Shrek Twinkies

Twinkie the Kid, with his ten gallon hat and cowboy boots, has long been one of most popular Hostess mascots. Most fans of Hostess Twinkies think the little sponge cakes with the creamy filling are pretty perfect. However, in the quest to make more money, the company paired with the Shrek movie franchise to come up with Shrek Twinkies. Instead of the pleasantly appealing white filling, Shrek Twinkies are filled with an “Ogre Green” filling. These limited edition Twinkies are said to taste the same as the regular version, but not everyone wants to eat slime green filling. Of course the slime green filling was also tried out on a Ghostbuster Twinkie promotion with similarly disappointing results.

3. Say Taytos – Say What?

The Irish are known for many great things, but fine cuisine is not one of them. Taytos are crisps, or chips in America, that are a popular snack in Irish pubs.  These salty snacks come in flavors like cheese and onion. This would be fine if Taytos had stopped there – but they didn’t. Taytos decided to make a chocolate bar that included those same cheese and onion chips. Chocolate, cheese and onion does not sound like a winning combination and the chocolate bar failed in America. However, it has enjoyed some popularity in Ireland. Maybe a cheese and onion chocolate bar doesn’t seem so strange after you’ve had a few pints of Guinness? Some chip and chocolate lovers have described the eating experience as being similar to a Nestle Crunch Bar, but saltier. We’re willing to take their word for it.

2. Wow is Right

Discovering the mythical fat free potato chip is about as likely as finding a unicorn in your backyard. nevertheless Frito-Lay came out with WOW chips – several kinds of fat free snack chips made with a chemical compound called Olestra. This wonder ingredient promised the taste of fat without the inconvenient calories. But if it sounds too good to be true than…well, you can guess the rest. Olestra could not be digested properly and turned out to cause “abdominal cramps and anal leakage” in some people who indulged in WOW chips. That is not what anyone wants to hear. No junk food can survive these kinds of  symptoms and the accompanying backlash. People who love chips know that they aren’t eating health food, but at least regular chips didn’t leave a mark.

1. TMNT Cowabunga Pies

The four anthropomorphic turtles of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fame loved pizza pies, but Hostess Cakes decided to market TMNT pudding pies. Any food with a green filling is a little dicey and Hostess experienced this with its Shrek Twinkies. The pudding pies, however, were green on the outside and vaguely resembled a piece of a turtle. Something less appetizing from a snack cake maker is hard to imagine. These odd looking pies filled with vanilla pudding power debuted in February 1991 and included a trading card inside each package. Like most of these junk food fails these pudding pies did have a following, but these green pies were destined to fail.

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