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Disgusting Flavors We Never Got a Chance to Love

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We're not sure what flavor you like your laxatives, PEZ and tortilla chips, but we're guessing these aren't them. The following are some of the biggest marketing missteps, all done in very bad taste.

PEZ that belong in a vase: The truth is, everyone loves the containers. But I, for one, am actually a huge fan of that chalky deliciousness of PEZ candy. Whether it's grape, lemon, strawberry or orange, one packet of the good stuff never seems to be enough. That said, it's only recently that I learned that PEZ had quite a few failures on the flavor front back in the 1960s (including a cherry PEZ that tasted too much like cough medicine). Specific recipes aside, however, their absolute worst idea has to be the psychedelic Flower flavored PEZ, introduced in 1968. I'm not sure what sort of marketing survey determined that people wanted to step up to this all-you-can-eat bouquet, but where flower power was a huge success in the 60s, PEZ's flower powder wasn't.

Vegetable Jell-O: Of course PEZ wasn't the only beloved kids treat to make a few celeryjello.JPG.jpgmissteps. One of the biggest flavor offenders seems to be Jell-O, who tried and failed with Coffee, Chocolate and Cola flavors (which latter went flat the soonest, almost immediately after it launched). Their most behated flavor, however, has to be Celery, which was apparently created for use in salads. And while Jell-O still sticks by their "There's always room for Jell-O" slogan, supermarkets didn't feel that way, and quickly booted it from their shelves.

(several more after the jump)

From the EX-LAX to the Next Lax: I'd read about Fig-flavored Ex-Lax and the bomb 50349a.jpgthat it was a few years ago while doing a mental_floss story, but it's only recently that we found pictures of the tins. I'm not sure what inspired the unusual fruit flavoring, but I do like their effort. Of course, the only thing stranger than the fig flavor to me is how the inventor came up with the name for his product. Immigrant Max Kiss told everyone that Ex-Lax stood for excellent laxative, but the name actually came from the Hungarian newspaper, which used it as a slang term for parliamentary deadlock.

DORITOS inspired by LOL cats: While it hasn't bombed just yet, the super-secret cheezburger_410.jpgDoritos X-13D are cheeseburger flavored and only available in taste test labs as of now. Apparently, the chips are brighter than the average Dorito (which I'm guessing means they glow?), and taste like an All-American favorite with a hint of pickle. I'm not a gambling man, but I'm guessing the Vegas odds on this one lasting a full year are pretty slim.

Unpopular POP-TARTS: Oddly enough, sometimes there are flavors that sound decently appetizing, but just don't work in the market place. Pop-Tarts forays into Chocolate Cherry Chip and Frosted Peanut butter and Jelly seem to be two flavors that neither kids nor mother approved. Without much in the way of shelf-confidence, the two normal tastes were quickly relegated to land of forgotten flavors. Similarly, Nestle Quik's surprisingly unpopular Cookies N Cream simply couldn't sway enough milk drinkers its way.

61CCQK5MXSL._AA280_.gif.jpgTOOTHPASTE and brushes of genius: That said, occasionally marketers reach to capitalize on silver screen potential. That seems to be the case with, well, REACH toothpaste, which decided what better flavor to brush your teeth with than banana flavored toothpaste. Of course, the cute monkey business that is Curious George tooth gel has nothing on Breath Pallette's, which come in the strange Sweet Salt, Darjeeling Tea, and Indian Curry flavors to name a few.

DISGUSTING FLAVORS THAT WORK: Of course, sometimes gross flavors are just turkeygravey.jpgpart of the gimmick. Bertie Bott's Jelly Beans, straight out of Harry Potter for instance, feature yuck-inducing varieties like black pepper, earwax, earthworm and vomit. Kids, however, don't seem to be the only ones wiling to put their allowance on the line for a bit of disgusting. Fans of Jones Soda regularly shell out their Thanksgiving cash to get a sip of their limited-edition turkey and gravy flavored pop.

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So, did we miss any gross flavor missteps along the way? Post "˜em in the comments already! I'm itching to hear more.

NOTE: special thanks to Kara and Sandy for their enormous research help on this post.

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Pop Culture
The Sweet Surprise Reunion Mr. Rogers Never Saw Coming
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Family Communications Inc./Getty Images

For more than 30 years, legendary children’s show host Fred Rogers used his PBS series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to educate his young viewers on concepts like empathy, sharing, and grief. As a result, he won just about every television award he was eligible for, some of them many times over.

Rogers was gracious in accepting each, but according to those who were close to the host, one honor in particular stood out. It was March 11, 1999, and Rogers was being inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame, an offshoot of the Emmy Awards. Just before being called to the stage, out came a surprise.

The man responsible for the elation on Rogers’s face was Jeff Erlanger, a 29-year-old from Madison, Wisconsin who became a quadriplegic at a young age after undergoing spinal surgery to remove a tumor. Rogers was surprised because Erlanger had appeared on his show nearly 20 years prior in 1980 to help kids understand how people with physical challenges adapt to life’s challenges. Here's his first encounter with the host:

Reunited on stage after two decades, Erlanger referred to the song, “It’s You I Like,” which the two sang during their initial meeting. “On behalf of millions of children and grown-ups,” Erlanger said, “it’s you I like.” The audience, including a visibly moved Candice Bergen, rose to their feet to give both men a standing ovation.

Following Erlanger’s death in 2007, Hedda Sharapan, an employee with Rogers’s production company, called their poignant scene “authentic” and “unscripted,” and that Rogers often pointed to it as his favorite moment from the series.

Near the end of the original segment in 1980, as Erlanger drives his wheelchair off-camera, Rogers waves goodbye and offers a departing message: “I hope you’ll come back to visit again.”

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20 Things You Might Not Have Known About Firefly
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© 2002 Twentieth Century Fox

As any diehard fan will be quick to tell you, Firefly's run was far, far too short. Despite its truncated run, the show still offers a wealth of fun facts and hidden Easter eggs. On the 15th anniversary of the series' premiere, we're looking back at the sci-fi series that kickstarted a Browncoat revolution.

1. A CIVIL WAR NOVEL INSPIRED THE FIREFLY UNIVERSE.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Killer Angels from author Michael Shaara was Joss Whedon’s inspiration for creating Firefly. It follows Union and Confederate soldiers during four days at the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Whedon modeled the series and world on the Reconstruction Era, but set in the future.

2. ORIGINALLY, THE SERENITY CREW INCLUDED JUST FIVE MEMBERS.

When Whedon first developed Firefly, he wanted Serenity to only have five crew members. However, throughout development and casting, Whedon increased the cast from five to nine.

3. REBECCA GAYHEART WAS ORIGINALLY CAST TO PLAY INARA.

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Before Morena Baccarin was cast as Inara Serra, Rebecca Gayheart landed the role—but she was fired after one day of shooting because she lacked chemistry with the rest of the cast. Baccarin was cast two days later and started shooting that day.

4. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS WAS ALMOST DR. SIMON TAM.

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Before it went to Sean Maher, Neil Patrick Harris auditioned for the role of Dr. Simon Tam.

5. JOSS WHEDON WROTE THE THEME SONG.

Whedon wrote the lyrics and music for Firefly’s opening theme song, “The Ballad of Serenity.”

6. STAR WARS SPACECRAFT APPEAR IN FIREFLY.

Star Wars was a big influence on Whedon. Captain Malcolm Reynolds somewhat resembles Han Solo, while Whedon used the Millennium Falcon as inspiration to create Serenity. In fact, you can spot a few spacecraft from George Lucas's magnum opus on the show.

When Inara’s shuttle docks with Serenity in the pilot episode, an Imperial Shuttle can be found flying in the background. In the episode “Shindig,” you can see a Starlight Intruder as the crew lands on the planet Persephone.

7. HAN SOLO FROZEN IN CARBONITE POPS UP THROUGHOUT FIREFLY.

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Nathan Fillion is a big Han Solo fan, so the Firefly prop department made a 12-inch replica of Han Solo encased in Carbonite for the Canadian-born actor. You can see the prop in the background in a number of scenes.

8. ALIEN'S WEYLAND-YUTANI CORPORATION MADE AN APPEARANCE.

In Firefly’s pilot episode, the opening scene features the legendary Battle of Serenity Valley between the Browncoats and The Union of Allied Planets. Captain Malcolm Reynolds takes control of a cannon with a Weyland-Yutani logo inside of its display. Weyland-Yutani is the large conglomerate corporation in the Alien film franchise. (Whedon wrote Alien: Resurrection in 1997.)

9. ZAC EFRON'S ACTING DEBUT WAS ON FIREFLY.

A 13-year-old Zac Efron made his acting debut in the episode “Safe” in 2002. He played Young Simon in a flashback.

10. CAPTAIN MALCOLM REYNOLDS'S HORSE IS A WESTERN TROPE.

At its core, Firefly is a sci-fi western—and Malcolm Reynolds rides the same horse on every planet (it's named Fred).

11. FOX AIRED FIREFLY'S EPISODES OUT OF ORDER.

Fox didn’t feel Firefly’s two-hour pilot episode was strong enough to air as its first episode. Instead, “The Train Job” was broadcast first because it featured more action and excitement. The network continued to cherry-pick episodes based on broad appeal rather than story consistency, and eventually aired the pilot as the show’s final episode.

12. THE ALLIANCE'S ORIGINS ARE AMERICAN AND CHINESE.

The full name of The Alliance is The Anglo-Sino Alliance. Whedon envisioned The Alliance as a merger of American and Chinese government and corporate superpowers. The Union of Allied Planets’ flag is a blending of the American and Chinese national flags.

13. THE SERENITY LOUNGE SERVED AS AN ACTUAL LOUNGE.

Between set-ups and shots, the cast would hang out in the lounge on the Serenity set rather than trailers or green rooms.

14. INARA SERRA'S NAME IS MESOPOTAMIAN.

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Inara Serra is named after the Mesopotamian Hittite goddess, the protector of all wild animals.

15. THE CHARACTERS SWORE (JUST NOT IN ENGLISH).

The Firefly universe is a mixture of American and Chinese culture, which made it easy for writers to get around censors by having characters swear in Chinese.

16. THE UNIFORMS ARE RECYCLED FROM STARSHIP TROOPERS.

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The uniforms for Alliance officers and soldiers were the costumes from the 1997 science fiction film Starship Troopers. The same costumes were repurposed again for the Starship Troopers sequel.

17. "SUMMER!" MEANS SOMEONE MESSED UP.

Every time a cast member flubbed one of his or her lines, they would yell Summer Glau’s name. This was a running gag among the cast after Glau forgot her lines in the episode “Objects In Space.”

18. THE SERENITY SPACESHIP WAS BUILT TO SCALE.

The interior of Serenity was built entirely to scale; rooms and sections were completely contiguous. The ship’s interior was split into two stages, one for the upper deck and one for the lower. Whedon showed off the Firefly set in one long take to open the Serenity movie.

19. "THE MESSAGE" SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE SHOW'S FAREWELL.

Although “The Message” was the twelfth episode, it was the last episode filmed during Firefly’s short run. Composer Greg Edmonson wrote a piece of music for a funeral scene in the episode, which served as a final farewell to the show. Sadly, it was one of three episodes (the other two were “Trash” and “Heart of Gold”) that didn’t air during Firefly’s original broadcast run on Fox.

20. FIREFLY AND SERENITY WERE SENT TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION.

American Astronaut Steven Ray Swanson is a big fan of Firefly, so when he was sent to the International Space Station for his first mission (STS-117) in 2007, he brought DVD copies of Firefly and its feature film Serenity aboard with him. The DVDs are now a permanent part of the space station’s library.

This post originally appeared in 2014.

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