8 Disastrous Product Names

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Times change, the meanings of words change, things get lost in translation. Whatever the reasons, over the years product-makers have hit upon some of the silliest and most unfortunate names for their wares imaginable, and even though many of these aren't available at your local corner store, they're still here for us to laugh about. The classic example may be the Chevy Nova, which in Spanish roughly translates to the Chevy doesn't-go -- though strangely, the accidental joke didn't significantly affect the car's sales south of the border. But we're just getting started.

1. Ayds diet candy

The honorary granddaddy of all disastrous product names has to be Ayds, an appetite suppressant "candy" which sold well in the 1970s and early 80s -- until the soundalike wasting disease we all know and fear hit the scene. By 1988, sales of Ayds had been so negatively impacted that the company changed the product's name (to "Diet Ayds," not much better), but it was eventually withdrawn entirely. Nowdays the product's slogans are easy fodder for dark humor: Ayds helps you lose weight, Why take diet pills when you can enjoy Ayds? or, my favorite, Thank Goodness For Ayds! Here's a now-classic commercial:

2. The Golden Gaytime Bar

Gaytime ice cream bars have been sold in New Zealand for decades, and through some trick of marketing genius, have weathered the gradual shift in the popular meaning of the word "gay" without much trouble. Here's how they did it. This is an old, I think completely unironic commercial for Gaytime ("it's so hard to have a gaytime on your own!") --

And here's a recent Gaytime ad, where they just unapologetically run with it, making fun of their own name:

3. Barf detergent

Barf is an Iranian line of soaps and laundry detergents. In Farsi, "barf" means "snow." You can also wash your dishes and your hair with Barf.

4. Sars soft drink

509843800-22b93e4663-tm1.jpgAn Australian company called Golden Circle has long manufactured a caramel-flavored Sarsaparilla drink, the abbreviated product name of which is "Sars." Believe it or not, when the SARS outbreak of 2003 hit, sales of Sars went up: its value as a novelty item apparently outweighed the negative associations.

5. Shitto

can_of_shitto.jpg
This product from Ghana is "a gravy made from dried pepper, smoked dried fish, dried shrimp power, a variety of spices, ginger, onion, garlic, tomatoes and seasoning." Since English is the official language of Ghana, it doesn't seem like this can be chalked up to unfortunate happenstance.

6. Pee Cola

pee_cola_2.jpgAnother product from Ghana, where they would have us eating Shitto and drinking Pee. Good Lord.

7. Fart Bars

Fart-Bar_4D01A9C3.jpg
This is too easy. Fart bars are candy from Eastern Europe. Do I even need to make a joke here?

8. Wack Off Insect Repellent

IR0002.jpgYet another Australian product, Wack Off cream is marketed as a "topical strength, water resistant gel -- as used by the armed forces!" Can you think of a better endorsement?

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May 4, 2009 - 7:12am
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