Going To The Dogs

Not a dog item.... just very hard to find these days.

Not a dog item…. just very hard to find these days.

In the comments of my most recent Friday Prompt post, our favorite Vampire Maman, Juliette, inquired about items that don’t sell worth a shit.  What do we do with them… other than mock the fact that both some manufacturer and our bosses really thought anyone would buy garbage like that?  Well, the answer varies, and most of the time I never know since I’m just the night watchman over my domain… but in my 17 years of retail, believe me, I’ve seen plenty of these unsellable liabilities come through my counters.  There’s no official retail term for merchandise that’s almost impossible to sell to consumers, but one phrase I’ve heard before that I’ve become attached to is “dog item”… just as you’d call a person or thing that’s repulsive to look at a dog.

Cuz you know dogs are just so damn ugly.

Cuz you know dogs are just so damn ugly.

So today, I’ll share a few of my favorite dog items that I was able to personally stock and never restock.  Like…

The Dawn Power Dish Brush:

Now you can just use this to break those hard to clean dishes!

Now you can just use this to break those hard to clean dishes!

Introduced by Procter and Gamble in late 2003, the Dawn Power Dish Brush had the good fortune of being one of the three new household cleaning products Mecca put front and center in its main aisles to kick off 2004.  Unlike Mr. Clean Magic Erasers and Clorox bleach pens, you can’t buy this piece of shit anymore.  Thanks to a lot of promotion and a flood of coupons, customers actually went batshit crazy over this battery powered twirling turd for a while…

But while the brushes themselves were flying off the counter at first, the refill heads were collecting more dust than Jimmy Hoffa’s body.  Never judge a product that relies on refills for continued use solely by the popularity of the starter kit… and sure enough, those sales also quickly dried up, leaving us with boxes and boxes full of bristly refill heads, and implements of pleasure for the kinky.  The Nest has a better idea for those of you with hard to clean plates…

Now THIS is a dog item!

Now THIS is a dog item!

Febreze Scentstories:

I think it's just the severed head of R2D2...

I think it’s just the severed head of R2D2…

Just before the holiday season of 2004, Febreze (another Procter and Gamble brand) thought it would be a great idea to combine air freshener technology with a CD player.  The result was a shitty excuse for a miniature boombox that only played special “scent CD’s” which emitted smells instead of sounds.  Each CD contained five different smells that were supposed to go together in order to allow the sniffer to envision they were doing something else besides choking on noxious manmade chemicals.  They sold CD’s such as “Exploring a Mountain Trail,” “Walking Barefoot on the Shore,” and “A Scenic Drive Through New Jersey.”  Oh, and if you always wanted to know what washed up country/pop singer smells like, Shania Twain had her own special Scentstories disc.

Man, I smell like a total shill!

Man, I smell like a total shill!

And you could own this amazing B.O. CD for the low price of $30… plus another $5 a pop for each new one-time use “CD.”  Damn, what a bargain!  While Scentstories wasn’t a total bust, sales were about on a par with Shania’s last album.  Interestingly enough, we accidentally discovered a way to get customers to gobble them up.  By 2006, these wastes of technology were now selling for only $20, and we got a display feature of them in near the holiday that year.  Lovely…. but wait!  It’s the Billy Bass effect!

The perfect dogfish item.

The perfect dogfish item.

Nobody would be caught dead buying a Scentstories player for themselves… but as a thoughtless Christmas gift for the ones you don’t love?  Cha-ching!  We sold through that garbage like hotcakes that Christmas.  But by 2008, Mecca didn’t want an item that had become a hi-tech Chia Pet hanging around on its smell-good counter year round… So Scentstories were discontinued, and P&G eventually bit the bullet on smell-o-disc technology as well a few years later.  If you want to experience Scentstories for yourself, you’ll have to look on eBay…

Or take one off your neighbor's hands.

Or take one off your neighbor’s hands.

Ultrathon Insect Repellent:

The product that still gives me daymares.

The product that still gives me daymares.

Finally, there’s 3M’s military approved entry in the mosquito repellent business, Ultrathon.  In the Fall of 2002, it was reported that West Nile Virus was going to kill us all… just like bird flu murdered us in 2003, swine flu decimated us in 2009, and ebola finished us all off last year.  I’m really surprised there’s anyone even left alive reading this blog!  Anyway, because a couple people out of our U.S. population of nearly 300,000,000 died from mosquito-borne West Nile in 2002, with a little help from that ever informative media, everyone fucking panicked at the thought of even going outside in the summer.

I'M GOING TO DIE!!!!!!!!!!

I’M GOING TO DIE!!!!!!!!!!

Being a greedy responsible corporate citizen wanting to cash in on help alleviate the public’s fears, Mecca beefed up its insect repellent lineup for Spring of 2003, and among the additions was that little yellow aerosol can, Ultrathon.  Now, the fact that it didn’t sell because it cost a dollar more than Off, which as far as our working class customers are concerned is the top of the line, isn’t enough to make it my biggest dog item of all time.  Hell, we have plenty of non-selling crap that I’ve long since forgotten come through my hallowed aisles.

Our entire counter of Mrs. Meyers and Seventh Generation products that was "tested and guaranteed to sell".... LOL!!!

Like our entire counter of Mrs. Meyers and Seventh Generation products that was “tested and guaranteed to sell” in 2009…. LOL!!!

No, what got Ultrathon into the upper pantheon of dogginess was the fact that because of the West Nile scare, Mecca bet the damn farm on the fact that it would be a huge hit with petrified customers.  Endless feature displays of it kept rolling in throughout the Summer of ’03… nevermind the original stock on our counter from the Spring had yet to even dwindle down.  Undaunted, Mecca shipped in even more Ultrathon the next year… only to finally discontinue the shit after two years of absolute epic fail.  That left us with repacked boxes upon repacked boxes of hundreds of loose cans of the yellow garbage that we desperately tried to clearance out… even offering it as low as $1.50 a can.  But after three years of being unpacked and repacked untold times, it was rusty, dusty, dented, and just flat out unsellable.  We couldn’t give the shit away.

Kinda like my Cafepress stuff.

Kinda like my Cafepress stuff.

About a year after the dreaded cans mysteriously disappeared from our store, I happened to be shopping in a local Big Lots… a chain which buys up discontinued/defective/overstock items for pennies on the dollar to sell cheap… and lo and behold, near the back of the store I saw a shelf full of little yellow cans of Ultrathon!  Did they get it from the manufacturer who likely also took a hit due to the failure of this high end mosquito spray to sell at Mecca?  Or did we perhaps pawn our problem off on another store at a huge loss?

fun in the freezer aisle

Let’s go spray all those yellow cans by the meat case!

Yet amazingly, Ultrathon is still sold today at mainly sporting goods and hardware stores across the country.  Go figure…

Those are just three of the uniquely shitty items I’ve come across in my line of work that still make me laugh and shake my head to this day.  Do you recall any dog products that seemed like a silly idea and didn’t stick around long?

other than real items for dogs that are just plain ridiculous.

Other than real items for dogs that are just plain ridiculous.


About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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20 Responses to Going To The Dogs

  1. I have only one question about Ultrathon: does it work? Actually, I wish more people would refuse to buy the “latest, greatest” crapola. Maybe companies would stop trying to foist it off on us. A room scent that plays music? OY VAY.

    • Supposedly Ultrathon is used and recommended by the military… so by golly it must be good stuf…. oh wait, 3M may have just been in the pocket of the Department of Defense. Nevermind….

  2. Trisha says:

    The Dawn Power Dish Brush is laughable. For one thing, wouldn’t the crusted-on shit go flying everywhere, if it actually came off the dishes? Today I find myself wishing I had one though. I went in search of all my missing plates and forks and found them under the edge of my 15-year-old’s bed with food so petrified it would shred the dog’s tongue if I let him have a go at them. The Dawn Power Dish Brush would be very handy to smack my son with!

    The only item that sticks in my head from back in my Target days is Pepsi Clear. I also remember various innovations in razor technology that didn’t stick around very long. I still have a scar on my ankle from one of them!

    • I recall the rare days I’d clean my room back in the day and all of the forgotten plates I’d find. The Dawn Power Dish Brush is not recommended by the manufacturer for use as a blunt instrument…

      Clear soda technology… what were they thinking in the early 90’s? Pepsi One was introduced during my early days, and was a pretty slow seller as well. I was surprised to see it was only discontinued last year… I haven’t seen it on store shelves in almost 10 years!

    • Al says:

      No it does not go . I use mine to scrub potatoes for baking. Takes all the work out of the exercise

      • One person’s dog item is another person’s treasure. Do they even still sell the refill heads for them anymore, or do you have to keep cleaning the one you have?

  3. fanrosa says:

    What’s the early buzz on Persil Proclean?

    • Ha! When I saw that shit first come in, and how expensive it was, and how MUCH of it they sent in initially, I actually said “There’s our next dog item!” Sales haven’t been brisk, but far from non-existent. There’ve been a few customers come in specifically looking for it… and at least one I know of who was immediately turned off by the price. For that much, they’d rather buy Tide. It is very hard for a new brand in any sector to take on the top of the line brand, with a comparable price, and be successful… that’s the main reason Ultrathon failed.

  4. Mental Mama says:

    That Dawn thing looks like something I’d use to clean the inside of my cooch with.

  5. a1mamacat says:

    wasn’t there some strange spray on shampoo for lazy folks? Psssssst I think it was called. Spray it on your dirty dry hair, and comb it out. Supposedly, it would imitate a clean shiny coif.

  6. I bought the ugly fish beast for my cousin… and last week she came to the birthday of our grand aunt… with the singing fish… well, that’s poor somehow :o( My n°1 of trash is the top job wipe (by procter&gamble what else), I ruined my best jeans and I will never forgive them that I had to skip a festival just because of this idiots :o(

  7. Hey, what? My name is in your post…

    Oh goodness, thank you for the quick response and informative post on the subject of those unwanted products. Scent Stories? Scent Stories. Wow. That is so random and wrong. You have to wonder abut the meeting where that product was thought up.

    “What if we had scented music? Wonderful Tune Fragrance.”

    This was interesting. Awesome post.

    • You know what’s funny? I never knew if Scentstories actually played music along with emitting scents until I did some digging for this post. I kinda always assumed they did, but in fact, it’s just an extremely fancy scent diffuser. So you get five random smells and have to come up with the story behind those smells with no other stimuli…. OK.

      I’ll bet some intern at P&G submitted that idea as a gag, and damned if the bosses didn’t take it seriously!

  8. gentlestitches says:

    How lazy and also time wasting to stand there with what looks like a huge electric toothbrush for your dishes. Crikey! What is on the dishes that is so hard to get off? Yeah, give it to a dog (or a cat IF the cat is in the mood for plate scrum) 😀

    • But it will give your plates fewer cavities! 😉

      So many failed new innovations have all been concocted around one idea… we are too lazy. That may be true, but I still don’t want to have my hand occupied by a cumbersome magic wand while I’m trying to wash my dishes!

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