If you haven’t heard by now, Burger King committed a bit of an “oops.” It came out with a Halloween Whopper, similar to the original recipe… but with a black bun. The bun, which nominally gets its color from A.1. steak sauce, notoriously resulted in a particular side effect that lit up social media: People claimed it turned their poop green. Uh… fail, fail, fail!
Burger King’s whopper of a PR misstep is just the latest example of a brand that got a bit too ambitious, or too creative, with food marketing over the years. Here are a few other classic food fails we can laugh about now.
Care for some freaky ketchup on your Halloween Whopper? Until 2006, you could have had it, in the form of Heinz EZ Squirt Ketchup, which came in multiple colors including green and purple. It also marketed a bottle as “Mystery Color,” which was only known to people who bought it and squeezed it out. The stuff was on the market for a full six years before Heinz finally realized it was selling a product whose gross-out level was red.
Also an early new-millennium idea whose time passed after only a year, Ore-Ida’s Funky Fries were a frozen packaged food sold in creepy colors and flavors—including chocolate, cinnamon… and blue. Blue fries plus purple ketchup equals… pretty, maybe. But would you actually want to eat it?
You hear Reddi-wip and you think whipped topping — and not processed meat — right? Well, its makers tried to create the association in the '60s, when the brand created a pre-cooked bacon product wrapped in foil that you were supposed to heat quickly and easily in the toaster. No fuss, no mess? More like no go. Total flop!
Here’s a cautionary tale about sticking to what you know: Cosmopolitan — yes, the women’s magazine giant — decided to try a foray into consumer food products in 1999. Yogurt seemed like a natural fit because…. girls like yogurt, right? Well, evidently not: It took just 18 months for the product to be yanked from shelves.
In 1974, Gerber made a big bet on Americans’ laziness and simple palates: The company put out a product line known as Gerber Singles. But the jars weren’t baby food: They were petite portions of pureed food meant for single adults… that looked just like baby food, but seemed so much more tragic. (In Gerber’s defense: ‘70s.)
Crystal Pepsi, Pepsi Blue, and Pepsi A.M.
Pepsi is sadly responsible for three big fails in its history: There was that one time the brand failed to realize people drink the brand’s cola because… they like cola. In the early ‘90s, Pepsi tried a clear bubbly beverage known as Crystal Pepsi, which became one of the most famous marketing flops of all time.
Less remembered is Pepsi Blue — which nominally tasted something like berry-flavored candy. It debuted in 2002 and was pulled form North American shelves in 2004. The American public was even less inspired by Pepsi A.M., which had double the caffeine as the regular stuff. Mmm, nothing like a piping mug of Pepsi with your morning bagel right? Wrong. It died within a year.
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