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The Worst Product Flops of All Time
Wall Street 24X7 ^ | 03/04/2014 | By Thomas C. Frohlich

Posted on 03/04/2014 9:13:02 AM PST by SeekAndFind

The larger the company, the greater its capacity for taking risks. While pouring millions of dollars into market research and advertising campaigns can lead to tremendous successes, such ventures can also be a formula for the most miserable failures.

To identify some of the worst product flops of all time, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed products introduced after 1950 by America’s largest companies. To make the list, the company needed to make the Fortune 500 the year the product was released.

Companies often launch new products in response to a competitor’s successful idea. But such products fail if they cannot measure up to the competition or capture consumers’ attention. Microsoft’s Zune was developed in response to successful Apple products. The Zune was harshly reviewed for technical problems consumers had with the device. It also lacked an easy-to-use music store.

Click here to see the worst product flops of all time

Other experiments, such as the McDonald’s Arch Deluxe and Pepsi Crystal, were reinventions of a company’s staple. While there were good reasons to introduce these new products, consumers rejected them almost immediately.

In some cases, companies simply offered a bad product. Frito-Lay’s WOW! chips, for example, were very popular at first but ended up causing such unpleasant gastrointestinal problems that the product became completely unsalvageable.

Some products may have just been ahead of their time. The Newton MessagePad was perhaps the first tablet marketed to consumers, introducing in the early 1990s an idea that became very popular only a decade and a half later. However, Apple had trouble convincing consumers of the value of mobile computing at the time.

These are the worst product flops of all time.

10. Arch Deluxe
> Company: McDonald’s
> Year released: 1996
> Revenue yr. released: $9.8 billion

The Arch Deluxe was a quarter-pound burger McDonald’s released in 1996. The Arch Deluxe came with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, ketchup, and a mayonnaise-dijon mustard sauce on a potato bread roll. McDonald’s spent $100 million advertising the burger specifically to adults, considerably more than it had on its other burgers. Instead of showing satisfied adults, billboards and TV ads depicted children disgusted with the new burger. It appears that most adults, however, were not convinced they should want the burger simply because kids didn’t want it. The Arch Deluxe was also more expensive. It cost at least $2.29, compared with the Big Mac, which cost just $1.90 at the time. The burger’s failure was so monumental that McDonald’s completely reversed its strategy of introducing pricier items. In 1997, the company released a 55 cent Big Mac and tried other dramatic price cuts.

9. The Newton MessagePad
> Company: Apple
> Year released: 1993
> Revenue yr. released: $6.3 billion

Apple’s Newton MessagePad was one of the first products to offer basic computing functions in a handheld device. Its technology was revolutionary for its time. The Newton was met with excitement and favorable reviews, noting its futuristic look and processing power. But the Newton failed to catch on, and was eventually discontinued in 1998. Steve Capps, head of product development at the time, explained that the Newton’s handwriting feature doomed the product. Handwriting recognition was meant to be the main selling point, but it didn’t work properly during the initial release. The device was also ridiculed in the news for essentially replacing an inexpensive paper notebook with a $700 computer.

ALSO READ: Ten Retailers With the Worst Costumer Service

8. Zune
> Company: Microsoft
> Year released: 2006
> Revenue yr. released: $39.8 billion

Both the Zune and its upgraded sequel the Zune HD ultimately failed to compete with Apple’s already well-established iPod brand. Even without various performance issues plaguing the device — at the beginning of 2009, thousands of Zunes froze due to software glitches — the Zune would have had difficulty competing with the iPod. Shortly before its release, Wired Magazine argued that Microsoft’s PlayForSure digital music format would be clumsy due to unnecessary and poorly implemented security measures. There was also a sentiment among reviewers that the Zune could never be as cool as the iPod. With its initial $9 million ad campaign, according to NPD, Microsoft was able to capture only 10.8% of the relevant segment, versus Apple’s intimidating 86.1% market share as of 2006. After dismal results, Microsoft would nearly double its advertising investment, but without success. As a result, Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices division lost $1.3 billion in 2006, and then a further $1.9 billion in 2007. Today, Microsoft has virtually abandoned the Zune MP3 player, as well as the Zune brand.

7. New Coke
> Company: Coca-Cola
> Year released: 1985
> Revenue yr. released: $7.4 billion

For developers at Coca-Cola, reformulating the original Coke recipe may have made sense. In the early 1980s, the company’s market share was slipping and enthusiasm for the cola segment in general was also on the decline. Coke’s main competitor, Pepsi, had also successfully changed its formula multiple times to gain market share. In an effort to compete, Coca-Cola made its first recipe change to the original flavor in 99 years. The public backlash was nearly instantaneous. Consumers did not object to the new flavor so much as to the fact that the “classic” version was no longer available. According to the company’s website, protest groups popped up around the country. Seventy seven days later the company brought back the original Coke with the new name, “Coca-Cola Classic.” Despite the fact that the company lost more than $30 million in the new formula’s concentrate, and spent over $4 million on taste testing, the flop may have actually enhanced brand recognition and ultimately paid off in the long run. While soda sales have recently declined in the U.S., Coke led the carbonated beverage segment with a 42% market share as of 2012, according to Beverage Digest.

ALSO READ: The 10 Weirdest Things Thieves Stealspan>

6. WOW! chips
> Company: PepsiCo
> Year released: 1998
> Revenue yr. released: $11.5 billion

PepsiCo’s subsidiary Frito-Lay released WOW! chips in an effort to offer healthier and less fattening junk food. By using olestra, a fat substitute designed by Procter & Gamble, WOW! chips contained significantly less fat and calories. Initially, sales were exceptional, reaching $347 million in 1998 and making WOW! the best-selling potato chip brand that year. But olestra also had an unpleasant effect on the body. Diarrhea, incontinence, and cramping, were among the most common grievances, with some cases requiring hospitalization. PepsiCo dedicated a $35 million advertising budget to counteract negative opinion, but sales still declined dramatically in 1999 and 2000. Frito-Lay finally responded by renaming WOW! chips “light” in 2004. The company also avoided calling attention to its continued use of olestra. The absence of a warning label prompted a number of lawsuits. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, olestra’s approval for consumption was one of the FDA’s biggest blunders of all time.

5. Coors Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water
> Company: Adolph Coors Company
> Year released: 1990
> Revenue yr. released: $1.8 billion

Coors has advertised its beer as “cold brewed with pure rocky mountain spring water” for decades. Apparently, this water has been used to brew Coors beer since 1873. In response to a trend towards moderate alcohol consumption and significant growth in the bottled water segment, the company decided to sell spring water — its first nonalcoholic beverage since Prohibition. While the decision benefited from the company’s existing bottling logistics and distribution, the Coors brand didn’t help sell bottled water. Coors Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water used a similar name and label to that of Coors beer, which may have confused and even spooked consumers. Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser, also began criticizing Coors around that time for attributing superior quality to its mountain spring water, which Anheuser-Busch claimed was cut with water from Virginia. Coors cancelled its bottled water trademark in 1997.

ALSO READ: Cars So Hot They Are Out of Stock

4. Clairol Touch of Yogurt Shampoo
> Company: Procter & Gamble
> Year released: 1979
> Revenue yr. released: $8.1 billion

Yogurt and other cultured dairy products may actually be beneficial for your hair. Like many companies, P&G began emphasizing the natural ingredients in its products in the 1970s to answer the overall “back to nature” movement of the time. It was common for many shampoos to contain a variety of natural ingredients, including honey, various herbs, and fruits. When Clairol, a subsidiary of P&G, released its Touch of Yogurt Shampoo in 1979, however, customers did not take to associating dairy with a hair product. The product was also confusing to some. There were a number of cases of people mistakenly eating it and getting sick as a result. Surprisingly, Touch of Yogurt was not Clairol’s first failed foray into milk-based hair products — three years earlier it had attempted to market a shampoo called the “Look of Buttermilk.” Both sold poorly and are no longer available in the U.S.

3. Crystal Pepsi
> Company: PepsiCo
> Year released: 1992
> Revenue yr. released: $19.8 billion

In 1992, PepsiCo attempted to enter the then-flourishing “new-age beverages” market with its clear, caffeine-free Crystal Pepsi. The company promoted the product as a healthy and pure diet beverage. Its $40 million advertising campaign included permission to use Van Halen’s hit song Right Now in TV advertisements. Market tests at the time gave Crystal Pepsi such a positive outlook that Coca-Cola released Tab Clear to compete with it. While sales over the first year were a strong $470 million, many of the purchases were likely due to curiosity. Not only were consumers not convinced by Pepsi’s health angle, but many cola-drinkers expected a darker beverage. Also hurting Crystal Pepsi’s popularity: to many consumers it tasted just like original Pepsi.

ALSO READ: The Most Innovative Companies in the World

2. TouchPad
> Company: Hewlett Packard
> Year released: 2011
> Revenue yr. released: $126.0 billion

Introduced in July 2011, the TouchPad was Hewlett Packard’s attempt to compete with Apple’s iPad. With powerful video capability and impressive processing speeds, the TouchPad was widely anticipated to be among the only products that could give Apple a run for its money. Despite large scale press events and promotions, the HP TouchPad was a colossal failure and was discontinued almost immediately. As a result of the TouchPad’s failure, the company wrote off $885 million in assets and incurred an additional $755 million in costs to wind down its webOS operations, ending all work on the TouchPad’s failed operating system. Since then, HP has continued to struggle to maintain its edge in the PC market. The once-dominant PC company is in the midst of a multi-year turnaround plan. While the plan may have recently begun to bear fruit, investors remain cautious.

1. Edsel
> Company: Ford
> Year released: 1957
> Revenue yr. released: $4.6 billion

Released on “E-Day — with “E” standing for experimental — the Edsel was Ford’s attempt to offer a higher-end, mid-sized vehicle for consumers looking to upgrade. The car was named after Edsel B. Ford, the company’s former president and Henry Ford’s only son, who died in 1943. The Edsel cost Ford at least $350 million, which in today’s dollars is equal to roughly $2.9 billion. Ford promoted the car aggressively with expensive teaser ads, which may have gone too far in raising consumer expectations. A Teletouch pushbutton transmission and the Edsel’s electronic controls in particular were said to be revolutionary. Unfortunately, the new features were unreliable. The car was also quite expensive, ranging from $2,500 for the Edsel Pacer 4-door sedan to $3,766 for the 2-door convertible. This may have been difficult during a steep economic downturn — sales were down in 1957 for many other car companies, including Buick, Mercury, Dodge, and Pontiac. After four model years Ford stopped producing the Edsel.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Society
KEYWORDS: flops; product
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1 posted on 03/04/2014 9:13:03 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

No.1 should be Obamacare.


2 posted on 03/04/2014 9:15:12 AM PST by AU72
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To: SeekAndFind

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for Atari.

It was so bad it actually caused Atari to go bankrupt.

Millions of cartridges are actually buried in the desert.

A good friend of mine literally was the last person to leave the office and turned off the lights. He took me out to the desert where the cartridges are buried.


3 posted on 03/04/2014 9:15:44 AM PST by Jewbacca (The residents of Iroquois territory may not determine whether Jews may live in Jerusalem)
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To: SeekAndFind

The IBM PC Jr. should be in there somewhere.


4 posted on 03/04/2014 9:18:45 AM PST by NVDave
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To: SeekAndFind

I forgot about WOW! chips. Tried some, no problems with me gastro-intestinal-wise, but I could eat a battleship and just burp.


5 posted on 03/04/2014 9:19:18 AM PST by nesnah (Liberals - the petulant children of politics)
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To: SeekAndFind
2. TouchPad

...especially if you got "Lawsoned"

6 posted on 03/04/2014 9:19:51 AM PST by RckyRaCoCo (Shall Not Be Infringed)
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To: AU72
No.1 should be Obamacare.

Do you really think its a flop?

I think its doing EXACTLY what its intended.

7 posted on 03/04/2014 9:21:14 AM PST by mountn man (The Pleasure You Get From Life Is Equal To The Attitude You Put Into It)
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To: SeekAndFind
Oh, my no - there's a product that has reviews MUCH worse than any of these.

Diet Haribo Gummy Bears.

8 posted on 03/04/2014 9:21:15 AM PST by Billthedrill
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To: SeekAndFind

I always thought the ‘new coke’ thing was just a successful marketing tactic. I presumed they were hoping for exactly the response they got - having their customers clamor for their product and have widespread publicity.


9 posted on 03/04/2014 9:21:59 AM PST by posterchild
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To: SeekAndFind

The Edsel. Ridiculed for looking like ‘a Mercury kissing a toilet seat’. It never recovered.


10 posted on 03/04/2014 9:22:12 AM PST by Pelham (If you do not deport it is amnesty by default.)
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To: Billthedrill
My bad - THIS is actually the reviews page. Enjoy!
11 posted on 03/04/2014 9:22:43 AM PST by Billthedrill
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To: SeekAndFind

I have a sixpack, unopened, of Coors sparkling water - if there are any collectors out there that are interested...


12 posted on 03/04/2014 9:24:01 AM PST by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: SeekAndFind

Segway needs to be on there.


13 posted on 03/04/2014 9:24:08 AM PST by IllumiNaughtyByNature ($1.84 - The price of a gallon of gas on Jan. 20th, 2009.)
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To: nesnah

You should go read the amazon reviews on fat free gummy bears.


14 posted on 03/04/2014 9:24:39 AM PST by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: SeekAndFind

IBM’s Micro Channel Architecture.


15 posted on 03/04/2014 9:24:46 AM PST by tacticalogic
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To: mountn man

I believe it was fully intended to take the health insurance away from responsible people who were paying for their own insurance.


16 posted on 03/04/2014 9:25:27 AM PST by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: SeekAndFind
Beta Max!


17 posted on 03/04/2014 9:25:39 AM PST by Dr. Thorne ("How long, O Lord, holy and true?" - Rev. 6:10)
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To: SeekAndFind

..neighbors dog stole mine and buried it somewhere...

18 posted on 03/04/2014 9:25:46 AM PST by Doogle (USAF.68-73..8th TFW Ubon Thailand..never store a threat you should have eliminated))
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To: SeekAndFind

If someone would bring back, ‘Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific’ shampoo, they would make a KILLING! Also, bring back the ORIGINAL scent of ‘Herbal Essence’ shampoo.

Why they mess with a good thing is beyond me! :)


19 posted on 03/04/2014 9:27:30 AM PST by Diana in Wisconsin (I don't have 'Hobbies.' I'm developing a robust Post-Apocalyptic skill set...)
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To: SeekAndFind

What about the Iridium satellite phones? For the shear magnitude of the investment that has to be the biggest product flop of all-time — excepting Obamacare, of course.


20 posted on 03/04/2014 9:27:36 AM PST by Tallguy
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To: SeekAndFind

What happened to The Prophet Mohammed Coloring Book?


21 posted on 03/04/2014 9:27:55 AM PST by Buckeye McFrog
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To: Dr. Thorne

Beta Max was successfully adopted outside the USA.


22 posted on 03/04/2014 9:28:06 AM PST by Jewbacca (The residents of Iroquois territory may not determine whether Jews may live in Jerusalem)
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To: MrB

Actually, I think the goal was to wrestle away from employers their providing health insurance to employees (which was a result of wage & price controls during FDR - untaxable income) so that it could be now be taxed.


23 posted on 03/04/2014 9:28:24 AM PST by nesnah (Liberals - the petulant children of politics)
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To: SeekAndFind

I have a Zune, still use it and like it way more than the apple products.


24 posted on 03/04/2014 9:29:34 AM PST by NativeSon ( Grease the floor with Crisco when I dance the Disco)
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To: SeekAndFind
Touch of Yogurt Shampoo

My kid has some shampoo that lists caffeine as an ingredient, Of all things.

25 posted on 03/04/2014 9:29:45 AM PST by DManA
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To: Buckeye McFrog

“What happened to The Prophet Mohammed Coloring Book?”

The publishers lost their heads doing that one!


26 posted on 03/04/2014 9:29:46 AM PST by Jewbacca (The residents of Iroquois territory may not determine whether Jews may live in Jerusalem)
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To: posterchild

Yeah, New Coke did wonders for the sales of not New Coke, in the long run it was a great marketing move. But it was an accident, if that had actually been the goal it would have been a brilliant move, as it really went down it’s at best an excellent recovery.


27 posted on 03/04/2014 9:31:06 AM PST by discostu (I don't meme well.)
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To: SeekAndFind

I nominate Windows 8.1.


28 posted on 03/04/2014 9:33:15 AM PST by Gen.Blather
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To: mountn man

Exactly. It’s a freakin’ scam designed to bring full blown communism in through the back door. They make the cost so high that nobody can afford it, then they fine the crap out of everyone, then they start in on the liens, the auctions, the possessions, redistribution - Communism 101. All these people who say “Oh but they can’t do that, they can just take the fines from your tax refunds” Do they actually believe that? That’s just one more part of the scam. This thing has been one lie after another and people think they are just coming after your refunds? ha ha ha! Those fines will no doubt be raised through the roof until people end up owing tens of thousands of dollars the the IRS will move in and take everything you own, and all because you merely exist. The state will decide everything about your life. What you own, eat, whether you even live while all the politicos live like Kings.


29 posted on 03/04/2014 9:33:20 AM PST by GrandJediMasterYoda (Hitlery: Incarnation of evil.)
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To: AU72

Tru dat brudda! Tru dat in Spades.


30 posted on 03/04/2014 9:35:08 AM PST by Gaffer (Comprehensive Immigration Reform is just another name for Comprehensive Capitulation)
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To: Tallguy

RE: What about the Iridium satellite phones?

According to Wikipedia:

Iridium Satellite LLC merged with a special purpose acquisition company (GHQ) created by the investment bank Greenhill & Co. (NYSE: GHL) in September 2009 to create Iridium Communications, Inc.

The public company trades on NASDAQ under the symbol “IRDM”. The company had 611,000 subscribers as of the end of December 2012 (compared to 523,000 in December 2011). Revenue for the full year 2012 was US $383.5 million.

The system is being used extensively by the U.S. Department of Defense through the DoD gateway in Hawaii. The service revenue to governments made up 23% of Iridium’s revenues in 2012. An investigation was begun into the DoD contract after a protest by Globalstar, to the U.S. General Accounting Office that no tender was provided. A hold against the contract was lifted at the request of the Department of Defense, which cited national security reasons. This allows the continued use of the network during the investigation.

The commercial gateway in Tempe, Arizona, provides voice, data, and paging services for commercial customers on a global basis. Typical customers include maritime, aviation, government, the petroleum industry, scientists, and frequent world travelers.

Iridium satellites are now an essential component of communications with remote science camps, especially the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. In December 2006, an array of twelve Iridium modems was put online, providing continuous data services to the station for the first time. Total bandwidth is 28.8 kbit/s.


31 posted on 03/04/2014 9:35:37 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: Jewbacca

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for Atari.
It was so bad it actually caused Atari to go bankrupt.”

And in follow-up to my own post, the failure of Atari is credited with causing the 1980s collapse of the tech industry.


32 posted on 03/04/2014 9:36:14 AM PST by Jewbacca (The residents of Iroquois territory may not determine whether Jews may live in Jerusalem)
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To: SeekAndFind

Number ONE: Obama 1.0
Number TWO: Obama 2.0

No contest whatsoever.


33 posted on 03/04/2014 9:36:43 AM PST by Gaffer (Comprehensive Immigration Reform is just another name for Comprehensive Capitulation)
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To: SeekAndFind
The Edsel. Boy I remember those. I was a little kid, and it was always 'Hey look...an Edsel'. That Grill was something else.

What's not to love.


34 posted on 03/04/2014 9:38:30 AM PST by ImJustAnotherOkie (zerogottago)
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To: nesnah
I forgot about WOW! chips. Tried some, no problems with me gastro-intestinal-wise, but I could eat a battleship and just burp.

i remember these! i never tried them because, well--if i am going to each chips, i am eating the real deal junk food... just like i stay away from all those sugar substitutes... i would rather have a tablespoon of granulated sugar (not many calories, btw) then some brain-swelling sub... anyway, my sister ate WOW chips and boy did she have stomach issues afterward... it was kind of funny...

35 posted on 03/04/2014 9:39:02 AM PST by latina4dubya (when i have money i buy books... if i have anything left, i buy 6-inch heels and a bottle of wine...)
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To: SeekAndFind

36 posted on 03/04/2014 9:39:20 AM PST by Bobalu (Happiness is a fast ISR)
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To: Gen.Blather

Yes, Win 8/8.1 should be on the list, but it isn’t quite dead yet.


37 posted on 03/04/2014 9:40:22 AM PST by Kirkwood (Zombie Hunter)
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To: nesnah

I suspect one of the problems with the WOW! chips was the anal leakage warning on the back of the package.


38 posted on 03/04/2014 9:40:29 AM PST by Obadiah (I Like Ted.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Obamacare exceeds Edsel by metes and bounds.


39 posted on 03/04/2014 9:40:46 AM PST by WKUHilltopper (And yet...we continue to tolerate this crap...)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

I believe the Vermont Country Store sells those products. vermontcountrystore.com.


40 posted on 03/04/2014 9:41:58 AM PST by Nea Wood (When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination.-Sowell)
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To: nesnah

this was not a flop by any means, but do you remember, “SizzleLean?” my brother managed a supermarket, and he would always come home with the newest product... i remember my sister-in-law cooking it one Saturday morning when i had stayed the night at their house... they also had Pepsi Crystal when it first came out...


41 posted on 03/04/2014 9:43:42 AM PST by latina4dubya (when i have money i buy books... if i have anything left, i buy 6-inch heels and a bottle of wine...)
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To: Dr. Thorne

42 posted on 03/04/2014 9:45:43 AM PST by Bobalu (Happiness is a fast ISR)
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To: GrandJediMasterYoda

EXACTLY!!!


43 posted on 03/04/2014 9:48:53 AM PST by mountn man (The Pleasure You Get From Life Is Equal To The Attitude You Put Into It)
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To: Obadiah

Heh.....yeah, “anal leakage” are two words NO ONE ever wants to see together, much less on the food we’re eating.


44 posted on 03/04/2014 9:49:47 AM PST by AnAmericanAbroad (It's all bread and circuses for the future prey of the Morlocks.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Do you remember when Carter was President and his brother came out with “Billy Beer?” A huge flop.


45 posted on 03/04/2014 9:54:46 AM PST by momtothree
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To: latina4dubya

I actually lost a lot of weight on SizzleLean. Long before I knew anything about low carb dieting, I would eat that stuff, stirfried in a non-stick pan, I think, with some vegetables and soy sauce, for dinner. It got a little boring, but it worked.


46 posted on 03/04/2014 9:55:46 AM PST by married21 ( As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
bring back the ORIGINAL scent of ‘Herbal Essence’ shampoo

AGREE 100% --- favorite shampoo of all time. While the Vermont Country store say they sell it, it really isn't the same

47 posted on 03/04/2014 9:56:09 AM PST by coder2
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To: SeekAndFind
pontiac aztek photo:  pontiac-aztek-5.jpg

Pontiac Aztek. The ugly SUV that killed a car division.

48 posted on 03/04/2014 9:57:03 AM PST by Snickering Hound
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To: SeekAndFind

And the price of gasoline was only $1.87 when he took his first Oath of Office.

49 posted on 03/04/2014 9:57:21 AM PST by Slyfox (When Jesus sees a momma holding her little baby, it reminds him of his own momma.)
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To: Snickering Hound

Walter White’s car?


50 posted on 03/04/2014 9:57:46 AM PST by Eva
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