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5 Bizarre Brand Extensions We Completely Endorse!

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When Harley-Davidson made motorcycle boots and leather jackets, that made sense. When the rugged brand started hawking cake decorating kits, that made less sense. And it made us laugh. Here are a five other confused brand extensions we heartily endorse.

1. Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul Dog Food

The Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books have been bestsellers since the first one was published in 1993. Various special editions followed, including Chicken Soup for the Dog and Cat Lover's Soul in 1998 and Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul a year later. Seeing a gap in the book-based pet food market, the brand decided to launch dog and cat foods named for the book in the early 2000s. While the website for the company contains answers to questions such as "Where are your foods made?" and "Do you use any chemical preservatives?", it doesn't answer the more important questions like, "Why does a book need a tie-in pet food?" and "What if my soul is vegetarian?"

2. Heinz All-Natural Cleaning Vinegar

Picture 10.pngEvery kitchen has a bottle of vinegar. The versatile liquid is a staple in dressings and middle school volcano experiments. But when the popular Household Hint columnist Heloise showed that it could be used to remove rust, kill weeds, and clean a variety of surfaces and materials, vinegar makers started salivating. Heinz, for one, saw the magic liquid's potential, and expanded into the household cleaner market.Released in 1991 in four test markets and marketed as "Heloise's Most Helpful Hint," the Cleaning Vinegar had twice the acid content of regular white vinegar and was lemon scented. Needless to say, the product was a failure. Consumers were confused by the similar looking bottles and the specific purpose of the solution, and the product never made it beyond the test markets.

3. Dunkin Donuts Pizza

Picture 64.pngIn a bid to move beyond donuts and coffee, Dunkin Donuts has been flirting with selling made-to-order personal pizzas in a handful of markets since late 2006. While the pizzas may be delicious, consumers are still wrapping their heads around buying pizzas at a donut shop. While we're not sure who convinced DD to encroach on Pizza Huts personal pan territory, we'd love to see more products. Dunkin Donuts burritos? Or maybe Dunkin Donuts track shoes (what better way to tie in to their America to run on Dunkin slogan).

4. Gerber Singles

gerber singlesPicture 74.pngSounds like something out of an April Fool's Day press release—a baby food company releasing a version of its product for adults. Gerber Singles were no joke, though, and small jars containing fruits, vegetables, starters, and desserts appeared on store shelves in 1974. Clearly it wasn't a good idea. Customers had no interest in eating "˜Creamed Beef' out of a baby food jar, and the name of the product, "Singles" couldn't have helped either. As Business 2.0's Susan Casey said, "they might as well have called it "˜I Live Alone and Eat My Meals From a Jar.'" Gerber's baby food for adults ranks up there with New Coke as one of the worst brand failures of all time.

5. Smith & Wesson Mountain Bikes

Picture 55.pngSmith & Wesson are the largest handgun manufacturer in the United States, and have even made "this home protected by a Smith & Wesson security system" claims true with the release of a security system of sorts. Smart move. A less savvy extension? Introducing a mountain bike. First marketed to police officers, the bikes are now available to all consumers anxious to get their hands on a bike bearing the name of their favorite gun company. Of course, the company is offering a whole lot incentive: Customers who add a set of handcuffs or some handguns onto their bike purchase won't get charged for shipping and handling!

Know of any stranger brand extensions? Drop us a line in the comments.

ed. note: We stand corrected! We've changed the Dunkin Donuts pizza section to reflect the reader comments.

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FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images
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Animals
Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
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FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Live lobsters caught off the New England coast are typically brown, olive-green, or gray—which is why one New Hampshire fisherman was stunned when he snagged a blue one in mid-July.

As The Independent reports, Greg Ward, from Rye, New Hampshire, discovered the unusual lobster while examining his catch near the New Hampshire-Maine border. Ward initially thought the pale crustacean was an albino lobster, which some experts estimate to be a one-in-100-million discovery. However, a closer inspection revealed that the lobster's hard shell was blue and cream.

"This one was not all the way white and not all the way blue," Ward told The Portsmouth Herald. "I've never seen anything like it."

While not as rare as an albino lobster, blue lobsters are still a famously elusive catch: It's said that the odds of their occurrence are an estimated one in two million, although nobody knows the exact numbers.

Instead of eating the blue lobster, Ward decided to donate it to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. There, it will be studied and displayed in a lobster tank with other unusually colored critters, including a second blue lobster, a bright orange lobster, and a calico-spotted lobster.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Courtesy Murdoch University
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Animals
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
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Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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