Famous Flops

November 25th, 2009

Change is good…isn’t it? As food product developers, we’ve learned to tread carefully, with cautionary tales of New Coke and Crystal Pepsi. But sometimes, change just takes time, and a few cautious toe dips in the pool.

Over the weekend, hubby ran across this article outlining 10 famous food flops. Maybe it’s the optimist in me, but I saw most of these products as ahead of their time.

Take the coffee flavored Jell-O for example. Coffee, cappuccino and espresso flavors are extremely dominant now – in fact, according to Mintel, cappuccino is one of the fastest-growing sauce flavors on entrée menus. Maybe it would have been more successful in pudding…

Reddi-Bacon, while a fire hazard, looks like a predecessor to now beloved ready-to-serve bacon. Pepsi A.M. paved the way for any number of energy drinks. Gerber Singles may have been an early inspiration for adult nutritional beverages. And, “I Hate Peas?” Hello, TGI Friday’s String Bean Fries!

Sometimes great ideas are shelved simply because they are ahead of their time. Sometimes it’s the product that needs more development. (Ever hear of McDonald’s Hula Burger? In the 1960’s, this pineapple on a bun topped with cheese was Ray Kroc’s answer to consumers who couldn’t eat meat on Fridays. A year later, the Filet-O-Fish sandwich was born.)

But other times, consumers just need more time to warm up. It’s risky to be innovative. No one wants to come to market second. Then again, it’s even scarier to be first.

By the way…I hear Crystal Pepsi is making a comeback…

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