NPF: JUMPING THE GUN

I am a man who loves, and regularly makes, a good Edsel reference. That car and New Coke are probably American culture's most prominent examples of commercial failure, although I'm not sure if either are familiar to younger generations anymore. Although historical revisionism has emboldened some defenders of both – It is often claimed, for example, that the Edsel failed but contributed to the development of important technologies, which is very stupid and false and also its grille looked like a vagina – they largely deserve their reputation as disasters. We could probably add Netflix's "Qwikster" to the pantheon if it hadn't disappeared so quickly (see what I did there) that already almost nobody remembers it. Americans love winners but are fascinated by losers, provided they lose spectacularly enough. Nobody notices a 2-14 football team, but go 0-16 and suddenly we can't get enough.

What I find really interesting, though, are things that fail but then become huge successes later. My stock example when attempting to explain this phenomenon (side note: we should come up with a name for it. Lazarus effect?) is Zima. Remember Zima, the first mass-marketed "malt beverage" in the United States? Released in 1993, Zima was the butt of about 10% of all American jokes for the duration of that decade. Letterman and Leno beat it to death. Saturday Night Live lampooned it. The public ridiculed it; one commentator noted in a retrospective that, "There are a million ways to slight a rival's manhood, but to suggest that he enjoys Zima is one of the worst." I remember being in junior high – before anyone was even drinking beer or had any meaningful point of reference – and hearing regular Zima jokes. The product disappeared from shelves despite Coors' valiant (and expensive) marketing efforts, but the ironic part is of course that such "alco-pop" and non-beer bottled malt beverages are now wildly popular – Smirnoff Ice and Zima are virtually indistinguishable. While the masculinity-destroying stigma remains, malt beverages are available in hundreds of varieties now and sell briskly. From "hard lemonade" to Smirnoff to a newly available alcoholic root beer, things that come in a beer bottle but aren't beer have never been more popular.

Another example is nowhere near as well remembered as Zima: the Lincoln Blackwood. It is notable mostly as the answer to the trivia question, "What is the worst-selling car of all time in the United States?" Put to death after only a single year on the market, barely 3,000 were sold and today they are about as common as Yugos on American streets. The Blackwood was the Ford Motor Company's attempt at a high-luxury pickup truck. Those terms didn't seem to fit well together when the vehicle was released in 2002. Luxury buyers didn't want a truck, and truck buyers didn't want the image of softness that comes with a luxury vehicle. So it went down in flames, yet just over a decade later the ultra-expensive, high end luxury truck is one of the most profitable market segment in the U.S. Lincoln now sells tons of Mark LTs, and even utilitarian pickup trucks like Ford F-Series, Rams, and Chevrolet Silverados are regularly sold at sticker prices exceeding $50,000 (it's possible to top out an F-150 at nearly $70,000, with luxury features comparable to any Mercedes or Cadillac). And for some generations the word "Escalade" is synonymous with wealth and luxury now.

Maybe it is in our character to laugh at new ideas as a knee-jerk response and then, when sufficient time passes, to fall in love with them. There are plenty more examples out there, I'm sure. Sound off in the comments if you have a particular favorite.

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66 Responses to “NPF: JUMPING THE GUN”

  1. Kaleberg Says:

    Let's see. How about Micrin mouthwash back in the 60s? It was blue. We actually had some, because we always shopped at odd lots and left overs stores, so we bought things that most merchants and wholesalers were trying to get rid of. Micrin crashed and burned. No one would buy a blue mouthwash. That was gospel for decades. The last time I was in the mouthwash aisle, the standard mouthwash color was blue, just like Micrin.

    Another favorite was Exxon's Qwip. It was a fax machine that Exxon tried selling in the mid-1970s. Exxon was swimming in petrodollars in the 70s, so they could afford the full marketing press. The product never caught on. I'm not exactly sure of why, but by the late 1980s everyone had a fax machine. In fact, fax machines are still standard in the legal profession. If a lawyer wants to send a document to another lawyer, they swap fax numbers. Then the sender goes online to a fax website and uploads the document which is converted into a fax image and sent by phone modem / fax protocol to the other lawyer's fax machine where it is converted into a PDF file and emailed to the receiver. I'm not making this up. They also say things like "oyez" in court.

    There are often products that are premature. The general public just isn't ready for them. All through the 80s and 90s PC makers tried to sell a home computer. Sony, HP, IBM and a host of others designed and tried to sell computers for the home, as opposed to the home office. Then in the 00s the internet came of age and suddenly everyone had a home computer.

  2. Edward Says:

    How about a politician/T.V. personality, Morton Downey, who at the time was a joke but would now fit comfortably in America's political milieu? Or what about Ronald Reagan?

  3. Xynzee Says:

    Susan B Anthony $1

    Of course that fell victim to the, what I have been told, unique American attitude that if they really don't like an idea will find a way to do it so intentionally poorly so as to kill the idea for generations to come.

    The diesel engines produced by Detroit, GM's in particular IIRC, in the 70s met this same fate. Not being able to compete with the German diesels, they made something so crap that no one wanted to go near a diesel car for quids.

  4. Pat Says:

    I got laughed out of a boardroom in the eighties for suggesting a company build a pocket-sized computer that let you watch videos of cats doing silly things while waiting for the bus to come.

  5. bill Says:

    Anything that bucks trend will receive similar response, initially (and sometimes, for quite a while). Look at almost any decent musician/artist/author/etc. Takes a while to win over the masses.

  6. Katydid Says:

    IIRC, Zima was a lemonade-flavored beer. In the early 1990s, I'd just gotten back from 3 years in England, where they have a drink called Shandy (lemonade-flavored beer) that you could get at any pub and was widely enjoyed by pretty much everyone, so I was confused as to why there was so much hatred for it in the USA. It certainly tasted better than the regular beer sold in the USA.

    OTOH, the Escalade–a vehicle nobody can seem to drive or park–is wildly popular. "I look like a clueless idiot in this thing" is apparently something the American public enjoys saying.

  7. c u n d gulag Says:

    How about the Hummer?

    It came in with a bang -but left with a whimper when rising gasoline prices made owning one even more fucking stupid than before.

    I never saw one with a woman driving it – maybe it was just me.

    And I always assumed the male driver hadn't ever had an actual "hummer," because they were dickless stooges:
    Rambo wannabe's.
    Suburban soldier wannabe's.

    One of my closest friends neighbor's in Chapel Hill had one. He was a nice guy, but had some major issues.
    His wife flat out refused to drive that thing – and she was about as hard-core a conservative as I've ever met (as was he). She hated that fucking thing, and refused to drive it – hell, she didn't even like being a passenger in it!
    She called it her husband's "toy," and then rolled her eyes.

    Every time I saw some asshole driving one while our troops were still fighting in the Middle East, I flipped the asshole guy driving it the bird! (Ok, not my friend's neighbor).

    You want to drive one of those?
    There's a military recruitment place somewhere nearby. Go and volunteer, and you can drive one all you want.
    But instead of guys like me flipping you the bird, or trying to fit your humongous mass of gas-wasting metal penis substitute into a parking spot, you'd have to worry about somebody laying down, or flinging, an IED at you in your Hummer!

    I think if some company but rubber tires on a tank, there's be some dickless wonders who'd but it!
    "HEY! LOOK AT ME! SURE, I'M A DICKLESS ASSHOLE, BUT I CAN AFFORD THE GAS TO BE ONE!!!"

    When you combine military shit with conspicuous gas consumption, you can't go wrong – until the gas prices prove to you what a stupid and wasteful dickless wonder you are, you stupid and wasteful dickless wonder!!!

    End of Hummer rant!
    Have a nice weekend, everybody! :-)

  8. Wim Says:

    Well, in the mid-Eighties they tried coming out with a non -tobacco cigarette and it crashed and–figuratively–burned. Now look at everybody vaping.

  9. anotherbozo Says:

    "I made a flub. I lost the election… Just think how much you're going to be missing. You won't have Nixon to kick around any more."

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lo9FlPeKKzA

    There is no loser like a human who can acknowledge his own bitter humiliation. I know this is NPF, but the champion of all losers is the product known as Richard Nixon, who was dumped not once but twice, both in the loss in the 1962 California governor's election and his forced exit to avoid impeachment.

    Nonprofit radio on both coasts put the spliced tape on the air like a favorite oldie (Larry Josephson, I salute you), just to enjoy the music of it. But they wrote him off too soon. I think that was before the next, phoenix-like rise and proportional crash.

  10. Emerson Dameron Says:

    "Electronica."

  11. doug Says:

    Xynzee- I had the lead economist in the Dollar design group as an econ prof just after the dollar had come out.

    He was not that good at teaching either. The dollar design was too heavily influenced by vending machine interests, IMO.

    But yes, whatever the reason, quite a bust….

  12. Dan Says:

    The key thing about Zima was that it was part of the "clear" craze of the early 1990s, when all kinds of products were being re-marketed as clear. Crystal Pepsi was only the most well known, but there were tons of others (I seem to remember a gasoline commercial boasting that its gas was clear). So aside from its other faults, when the clear fad died out, so did Zima.

  13. afeman Says:

    Morton Downey, ha…. At my very crunchy small midwestern liberal arts college around 1990 the student newspaper had a columnist who put out the most infantile rightwing what-we-now-call-trolling that mostly just caused eye-rolling, plus some confusion among the international students. Last I heard he knocked up another student and never graduated.

    If anybody guessed that he was the future, they kept it to themselves.

  14. drouse Says:

    @Edward

    That's an easy one. Jerry Brown.

  15. Rugosa Says:

    My two cents on Zima-like drinks: In 1993, the complete sugarification of the American diet had not yet occurred. It was still possible to buy things like bread, cured meats, prepared foods, etc., that were not full of HFCS. Now every food product in the market has extra sugar. Our taste buds have become so accustomed to sweetness that we can no longer distinguish any other flavor, and will eat and drink utter swill as long as it hits that expected note. This also explains coffee drinks, which are basically warm milkshakes.

  16. verbal Says:

    I actually spoke with someone who did some of the marketing for the Blackwood and it's one of those things they talk about ruefully in "worst marketing job ever" presentations.

    The features were poorly thought out – it didn't have the seating of a luxury SUV, so it wasn't for luxury families who wanted rugged looks. Nor did it have any of the practicality of a truck, so it didn't sell to architects or rich hobby farmers or contracting company owners – the was tiny and covered and delicate. So you couldn't haul the kids to the mountains in it, and you couldn't put your fancy horse equipment in it, and you couldn't take it to your country house for the weekend to do elaborate gardening, you couldn't go shopping for big antiques with it.

    Even with all that, it might have succeeded except that it was introduced just as gas prices spiked and the anti-luxury-SUV backlash peaked.

  17. Skipper Says:

    The first hybrid automobile was patented in 1906. What a stupid idea. Who would drive one of those things? Of course, the oil companies had a lot to do with the demise of that project.

  18. Katydid Says:

    @gulag; Hummers were *the* vehicle of choice for a certain population during the early 2000s in my area, which has enough high-paying jobs that there are numerous people who can afford a $50,000 pointless vehicle. There were four just in the parking lot of the smallish building where I worked at the time. The types who owned one seemed to take a lot of pride in their "F the environment! F you people who care about the dwindling supply of oil!" attitude. Then the cost of gas skyrocketed and suddenly there was a whole lot of butthurt whining about how the cost was ruining their liberty to drive what they wanted, and how persecuted they were.

    My father just scrapped his 1980-something Isuzu baby pickup truck. It was the perfect size for the average suburban homeowner who does only rare heavy gardening and home repairs. I borrowed it once to move my possessions from an apartment into a house and made it in about four trips. It got reasonably good gas mileage (upper 20s on the highway). It had 400,000-some miles on it and was starting to become unreliable, but it was great while it lasted.

    They don't make that type of pickup anymore. Now it's all the one-ton king-cab stuff that's far more than the average buyer needs, but sure does feed their ego to sit up so high, and so what if they only get 15 mpg?!? It's probably Obama's fault that gas is so expensive, amirite?

  19. John Danley Says:

    Is it just me, or do cell phones seem to be returning to 80s-sized proportions?

  20. April Says:

    @Kaleberg….don't know where you were, but I knew a couple of people who had an Apple IIe in '78, and by 82, I and others had either an IBM PC or Compaq. (I knew one guy with an Osborn.) By the time I went back to the US from England in '88 most people I knew had some form of pc.

    By the early 90's pretty much everyone middle class (remember THAT group? sigh.) I knew had at least one, and some had more. I actually knew a bit about them at the time, so I spent a fair bit of time helping others with their machines.

    Don't forget WIN 95 was, well, in 1995. Millions of PC's were out by then.

  21. Carter Adams Says:

    HBO original programming.

  22. Nick Says:

    I enjoy the story of Crystal Pepsi. It actually tested well with customers and probably would have been reasonably successful, but Coke introduced Tab Clear, the shittiest drink they could make without bottling actual urine, in a deliberate attempt to kill both products by associating Crystal Pepsi with the shittiness of Tab Clear.

  23. Kulkuri Says:

    I vote for all the crew cab pickups with a box so small you can't haul a riding mower in it without having the tailgate down. Every ad on TV or in print has a crew cab truck and about all you see at the dealers are four door pickups. Unless you are a contractor (and then you would go for one with an eight foot box), who needs a truck that will haul 5-6 people??

  24. Death Panel Truck Says:

    And for some generations the word "Escalade" is synonymous with wealth and luxury now.

    The Cadillac Escalade is a badge-engineered GMC Yukon Denali.

  25. Lawrence Says:

    I remember Zima tasting more like tonic water than lemonade. Wasn't Arnold Scwarzenegger the one who started the Hummer thing? He bought one of the full size military versions. It was a news item, and people began asking for them. Since most people couldn't afford or didn't really want the military one GM built the H2 for civilian consumption. I parked next to one the other day.

  26. Eric the Infrequent Says:

    Zima was not a shandy, its flavor profile was more akin to a very weak vodka tonic. There was very little "beer-like" about it.

  27. cromartie Says:

    Microsoft Zune.
    Apple Newton.

    Or Circuit City's attempts to introduce DIVX, which has gone on to be more useful in other applications.

    I was at a gas station in Northville, MI recently when an African American teenager pulled up in a Lincoln Blackwood. It's the closest thing to a unicorn sighting I'd ever had in my life. I wanted to take a picture.

  28. Khaled Says:

    In the world of sports, with the theme of NPF, I submit a couple.

    1) The Dan Fouts and Don Coryell San Diego Charger passing offense. Way ahead of its time. Now every NFL team passes a ton and most use the same plays that Coryell and (later) Walsh used.

    2) Professional Soccer/ Soccer in general-

    The NASL in the 70s burned bright and flamed out because they forgot that sports teams needed to make money to keep people owning them. The MLS starting in 1996 has kept expenses down (usually at the sake of quality) and despite almost folding in the early years, has built upon its foundations to run a league that is in clear 5th place, and sometimes 4th place, in America. The Women's World Cup win (and ratings) are also a clear sign that people will watch soccer if it's one of the national teams, but also gives hope to MLS and soccer in general. I know soccer has been "America's sport of the future" since the 70s, but the popularity is coming around. I know I see kids wearing Barcelona jerseys all the time, and being able to see European teams on the television will help the popularity of the sport in the US.

  29. mothra Says:

    I dunno…the bicycle as transportation, maybe? Although it didn't really fail–cars just took over.

    Kaleberg: I am a paralegal and get a lot of "you still use a FAX????!!!!" from friends when I talk about faxing something. The look of bewilderment and disbelief on their faces is something to behold.

    And no, Zima wasn't a shandy. A shandy (or radler in Germany) is 7-up or lemonade blended with beer. The Zima was some sugary, malty nastiness–the flavor profile of which I was never able to pin down. That malt flavor sets it (and its spawn) apart from the taste of a shandy.

  30. Dan Says:

    Mothra and Kaleberg: I don't know where you guys practice, but I've been lawyering in California since 1995, and the fax machine in my current office has been used only to spit out spam for the last 5-8 years. If something needs to get sent somewhere, it gets scanned to pdf and emailed. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I sent or received a fax.

  31. Mo Says:

    A personal favorite:

    The Man Who Always Peaked Too Soon

    [scroll down a screen to get past the blog logo, duh]

  32. Nate Says:

    The funniest thing to me about the whole Netflix/Qwikster kerfuffle was that they hadn't secured the Qwikster twitter account when they posted one. The account belonged to a high school kid who had a profile picture of a jolly looking Elmo puffing on a big fat blunt. He also tried to sell it to them for some astronomical price too.

  33. c u n d gulag Says:

    Katydid,
    Yeah, those small pick-up made too much sense.
    People who occasionally needed a pick-up, bought those vehicles, and there was nothing wrong with that!

    One boss that I had – whom I liked – had a HUUUUUUUUUUUUGE Dodge Ram – with all of the extra's.

    He'd had it for 2 years, and there wasn't a single scratch or any dirt in the bed of the truck.
    It looked brand new.
    Why buy that?
    Oh, yeah, he was short, and he must have had a small dick and had to make up for it with buying a massive pick-up truck that he didn't use for ANY thing – except go to work, bars, and restaurants!

    When I look at some of the cars that people have, it leaves an impression on me.
    You're single – and driving a Yukon?
    WTF?!?!?!?!
    You're a douchebag!

    You have a large family and you drive a Yukon?
    I'm ok with that.
    It's large and safe.
    And, with 4,5, or 6 people in it, gallons per mile don't matter as much as a single guy in one.

    I bought a Saturn Vue in 2003.
    I was a Training Manager, and I needed to carry a lot of documents, projectors, audio equipment, and my Saturn Coupe wasn't – despite getting great gas mileage – quite up to what I needed it for.

    So, I researched which SUV had good gas mileage, was safe and reliable, and so bought the Vue – 4 cylinder.
    It was by far the best and most reliable car I ever had!!!
    Sadly, the AWD tranny went after 160,000 miles, and I didn't see the sense in paying $4,000 to $5,000 to get a rebuild or a new tranny.

    I gave it to a friend for his 14 year-old daughter to use when she turned 16, but, after he tried to fix it, he gave it to a dump for parts.
    Sad…

    FSM, I miss that car!

  34. Robert Says:

    Mo, that was exactly what I thought of as well.

    Magnus Hirschfeld was a pioneer of sexuality research and political advocacy (particularly for sexual minorities) in the most progressive city in Europe. Unfortunately, it was Berlin during the Weimar republic. He managed to get out in time, but his institute furnished much fuel for the first Nazi book burning.

  35. JustRuss Says:

    Cromartie:
    Zune doesn't count, it was a failed attempt to mimic the wildly successful ipod, and definitely not ahead of its time.

    The Newton sort of counts, but it was doomed from the outset, the technology just didn't exist to make a useful tablet in the mid-90s. Microsoft made a couple hard runs at the tablet market in the early 2000s (I still have one), but the tech still wasn't there. It wasn't just a case of consumers not getting it. When the iPad came along, LCD, battery, wireless and processor tech had advanced to the point where it was possible build a useful computer that fit in your pocket

  36. FMguru Says:

    @cromartie – Newton is a good call, it was just ahead of its time and the technology to really do what it wanted wasn't quite there yet. I'd disagree with Zune – a decent product but it came out years after Apple had already sewn up the portable music player market.

    Culturally, I'd say Twin Peaks was ahead of its time. It would have made so much more sense as an HBO premium miniseries or as something on AMC (and in world where streaming, DVRs, DVDs, and online bootlegs make it easier to keep up with the twisty cast-of-dozens plot) instead of a weekly ABC drama, but those options didn't exist in 1989. Complicated shows with supernatural elements are a lot more palatable to a mass audience now than they were back then, too.

  37. Skepticalist Says:

    Hummers in Upstate NY are hard to shake. Each came with a gun rack, Confederate flag sticker and a Jesus fish bumper magnet as standard equipment. We have our share of Unabomber lifestyle wannabes to support.

    Why no bad mood rings unless one counts suicide rings?

  38. cromartie Says:

    The Dana Carvey Show. Full of talent and waaaaay ahead of its time. Should have been on HBO, really.

  39. Major Kong Says:

    If I had a large family I'd buy a minivan any day over a Yukon. Drives better, gets much better mileage and has a lot more room inside. Plus they're practically invisible to state troopers.

    Unless you really need the ground clearance and/or towing capacity a Yukon has little to recommend it. I've been stuck with one or two as rentals and couldn't wait to get out of it.

  40. Sock or Muffin? Says:

    As a Ford Ranger owner I want to laugh and cry at the same time at all the new huge F-150s and Ram super hemis. I laugh because as a few others said, not everyone wants or needs a four-door monster pickup with a bed smaller than my 4-cyl mini-truck. My brother in-law is a right winger with a RAM V8 who complains about gas prices and the mileage his truck gets.

    I cry because Ford stopped making Rangers and I know damn well why they did it. Way more incentive to sell $50K F-150s.

    Favorite Escalade/Blackwood clone is by far the Chevy Avalanche. What a giant, ugly and useless hunk of shit.

  41. Major Kong Says:

    I would actually love to have a 58 Edsel.

    About what you'd expect from a guy who has a 57 DeSoto.

  42. What The Karp!?! Says:

    I have a friend who had a Diamond Rio mp3 player almost 20 years ago. it held approximately 30 minutes of music. he was the only person i knew that had one, and i never even heard of it from anywhere but him. He bought it so he could download Anime theme songs and listen to them in his car, i guess this was cheaper than imporing all these CDs from japan. This was quite a few years before i ever remember mention of the iPod.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rio_PMP300

  43. democommie Says:

    SONY. Betamax.

    Oh and SONY Atrac.

    Both fucked ideas.

  44. Dave Dell Says:

    I had a long and frustrating search to finally find a regular cab 8 foot bed pickup – Dodge Tradesman. By the time I need another truck they probably won't make them.

  45. Anon Says:

    When I was in high school, nobody but me had heard of Dr. Who.

  46. Roy Says:

    I recall the Edsel being described as a Ford sucking a lemon.

  47. Khaled Says:

    Hey G&T readers, I have a small dilemma. My wife and I are looking to buy a small crossover SUV with plenty of cargo space. The dimensions we need are about 40 in wide by 33 in long (two dog crates side by side). We were looking at either a Honda CRV or a Subaru Forester or something similar. Any advice? I know exactly dick about cars.

  48. Katydid Says:

    @Khaled; why don't you just go for a Cube or something similar? Cheaper in price, WAY more useful: pull out the rear seats and put in the dog crates, and you can hose it down when it needs it. When you're not hauling dogs, you can haul stuff to the dump or large purchases in the empty cab, which has way more room than any SUV (they use them in Holland as delivery vans). Better gas mileage than an SUV, too, and far less chance of rollovers. Best of all, you can put the seat back in and actually haul people comfortably, if you need to.

    A few years ago I had friends visit from Europe and needed a vehicle that would seat 4 adults and 4 kids–3 in car seats–for the duration of their visit. My 20-year-old Honda Civic just wouldn't do. Originally I rented a Honda Odyssey which fit everyone fine and got surprisingly good gas mileage, but their flight was cancelled due to weather on the very day the rental was due back. The rental place offered several SUVs, but none of them could actually fit people (that's not what they're designed for), so we ended up with 1 SUV and my Honda, both fitting 2 adults and 2 kids each…with about the same amount of leg- and elbow-room. The SUV got craptastic mileage and was obnoxious as hell to drive, and I was never so glad as when I turned it in the next day when their flight left.

  49. Katydid Says:

    @FMguru: I remember Twin Peaks! My area preempted it a lot for never-ending sports that inevitably ran over their time limit, which made the show pretty much impossible to follow and I gave up.

  50. BigHank53 Says:

    Why do people think New Coke was a failure? Coke used to be made with cane sugar. After it was re-introduced as Coke Classic, it was made with high fructose corn syrup. The two sugars taste different. (Not better or worse, but different.) New Coke's introduction and removal meant all the old cane sugar stock had been drunk and it couldn't be compared with the reformulated HFCS stuff. Coke has saved billions of dollars since, and recovered the investment in New Coke handsomely. All the free publicity they got was worth more than they spent on the campaign.

  51. el mago Says:

    @Major Kong. That 57 DeSoto have a slush box? Ha ha. Had one of those as a teenager. My brother dropped a 426 hemi in it. Never mind.

  52. Bess Bibbentucker Says:

    What about the Polaroid Swinger (pronounced 'swing-ger')?

  53. Katydid Says:

    @BigHank; I had the same thoughts about New Coke. HFCS leaves a greasy feel in my mouth and I just don't care for it. The old Coke, which was a once-in-a-blue-moon treat back in the day, had a nice "bite" to it from the cane sugar. The guy who serviced the vending machines at the place I worked when New Coke was introduced handed out cans to everyone to try, and I remember being appalled at the greasy, oily taste. When they brought back what they advertised was "Classic Coke"…it wasn't. Same greasy mouth-feel, only toned down a bit. Since I was only drinking soda a handful of times a year, I switched to Diet Coke, which didn't taste as good as the old Coke, but at least wasn't full of HFCS.

  54. Khaled Says:

    @Katydid, BigHank-
    I had heard "New Coke" was an attempt to get rid of using coca leaves in the making of Coke. I read in a book that Coke actually gets special permission to import coca leaves, blanches out the cocaine from them, and then uses them in making the soft drink, which is how Coke gets it's unique taste that can't be replicated by other colas. Made sense when I read it.

  55. Xynzee Says:

    @CU: I'm not sure but I think I saw someone driving a Hummer 3 the other day. What raised my suspicion that it was was the HUMMER3 on the licence plate. No really that was the number plate.
    There's also some tool who has an H3 with chrome rims and lo-pro tyres.

    But those cannot compete w seeing a full sized Hummer in the Sydney CBD. Sydney especially and Australia in general has very narrow lanes by comparison to the U.S.

    But the greatest wank had to be the guy I saw with an F-150 in the Suburb of Balmain. It took up 1.5 car spots. Balmain has these narrow windy lanes. Think old European villages. Now put an F-150 in there. Talk about ass-hattery.

  56. Xynzee Says:

    @Nick: that proves the point of what I said earlier. Can't—lack the desire to—compete, tank the market.

  57. Major Kong Says:

    @el mago

    Yes, my 57 FireFlite has the factory Torqueflight 3-speed automatic with push-button shifter.

    Engine is the stock 341 Hemi with 4-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust.

    It would have been considered a hot car by 1957 standards but the average minivan today would probably beat it 0-60.

  58. Katydid Says:

    @Khaled, you might be right. I'm not sure why they changed the Coke formula, but I do know the "Classic" Coke was just a less-sickly-sweet version of New Coke, nothing like the original formula.

  59. Tom Says:

    As for the hummer (original, H1), a writer over at Jalopnik just bought one and is chronically what it's like to own one. Verdict: slow, uncomfortable, smaller than you'd think, and not really that fun. http://jalopnik.com/here-s-everything-you-didn-t-know-about-the-original-hu-1696552273

    A kid I went to high school with had a Blackwood; when I first saw it in a magazine I remember thinking how stupid an idea it would be and that no one would buy one. A friend of mine had a King Ranch F-350 long bed as his daily driver. As unpractical as it was on day-to-day basis, we actually filled the bed to capacity many times. Now he moved on to a SVT-raptor which he's dumped tens of thousands of dollars in parts into. Of course he's unmarried and still lives with his mother, but "awesome truck bro".

  60. Tom Says:

    Doug also wrote a great article about the stupidity of the H2 Hummer:
    http://dougdemuro.kinja.com/do-hummer-h2-drivers-know-how-stupid-they-look-1447267682

  61. Major Kong Says:

    If I recall, the Hummer H2 was basically 10,00 dollars worth of plastic tacked on to a Chevy Tahoe.

  62. Tom Says:

    @Major Kong
    Pretty much, and sold for a considerably larger mark-up.

  63. Brian M Says:

    "But those cannot compete w seeing a full sized Hummer in the Sydney CBD. Sydney especially and Australia in general has very narrow lanes by comparison to the U.S. "

    Xynxee: My favorite Hummer sighting was the two-full-size Hummers (not the H2) I saw in the Bernal Heights neighborhood in San Francisco. Now, Bernal Heights was once very "blue collar", so we are talking small wooden cottages on amazingly tiny and narrow streets. Those stupid trucks filled the garage from end to end.

  64. Brian M Says:

    I like narrow lanes, by the way. The American engineering solution to suburban development (especially in california!) is 60 foot wide neighborhood streets…with 25 mph speed limit signs. Then they wonder why the soccer mom texting while doing her nails at 45 mph runs down the toddler on his tricycle.

  65. Mayya Says:

    Does anyone remember HyperStack? It was a software for the Mac that was part relational databse, part wysiwyg programming interface, part HTML. No one knew what to do with it. I myself created an intro to typing tutorial that was a lot of fin to use (emphasis on rude words and jokes) that also calculated typing speed and showed the errors. It wasn't briliant but worked pretty well and my husband actually learned to type with it. I Saw a few very clever "stacks" created with the software and then it just kind of disappeared. Not replaced by sodmethring better – it was too far ahead of its time…

  66. miliukov Says:

    TRS-80 Color Computer 1

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRS-80_Color_Computer