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13 Hilarious Inventions That Failed Spectacularly

Sometimes a new product makes you say, "Why didn't I think of that?" Other times, they make you wonder, "Why on earth did anyone think of that?" Here is a look at some spectacular product failures.

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Not every invention’s a winner

Sometimes, failures are as notorious as successes. Even hugely successful companies like Ford, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola have the occasional major flop that goes down in history. These inventions, re-brands, and new products turned out to be total misfires. How many do you remember? We bet the people behind them could commiserate with these inventors who regretted their inventions.

1958 Ford Edsel Publicity shotMagic Car Pics/Shutterstock

Ford Edsel

Ugly and overpriced are usually not hallmarks of a successful product launch. Alas, such was the case of the Ford Edsel, which debuted in 1957 and enjoyed only two years on the production line. According to How Stuff Works, the Edsel had aesthetic and reliability issues, and its $2,500-$3,800 price tag timed with the beginning of a national recession put it immediately on the skids. Check out some of the wackiest cars ever made.

QUINLAN Michael R. Quinlan, chairman and chief executive officer of McDonald's Corporation, left, laughs as Ronald McDonald eats the new Arch Deluxe hamburger unveiled during a news conference at New York's Radio City Music Hall . The event, the largest new product launch in the company's history, is aimed at drawing more adults into the fast-food chainRICHARD DREW/Shutterstock

McDonald’s Arch Deluxe

With a promotional budget estimated at $150 million to $200 million—the largest ever in fast food history—McDonalds was all in on their new burger back in 1996. You know who wasn’t all in? Customers. Turns out, people who eat at McDonald’s weren’t all that interested in paying more for an upscale sandwich, and the Arch was discontinued faster than you can say, “I’m hatin’ it.” Here are some more of McDonald’s most notorious menu flops.

FILE - This file shows Google Glasses displayed in San Francisco. Google has a challenge for U.S. nonprofits. On Tuesday, the tech giant is asking nonprofit groups to propose ideas for how to use the Web-connected eyewear Google Glass in their work. Five charities that propose the best ideas by May 20 will get a free pair of the glasses, a trip to Google for training and a $25,000 grant to help make their project a realityJeff Chiu/Shutterstock

Google Glass

Wearing a computer monitor on your face that records and transmits everything you look at might seem like a good idea…until you factor in little things like privacy and safety. Soon after being introduced in 2012, the glasses were banned from being worn in places like casinos and movie theaters, and behind the wheels of cars. In 2015, Google threw in the towel and hung-up their nerdy spy devices for good.

Cans of New Coke and Coca-Cola Classic are on display during a news conference in Atlanta. New Coke's sweeter formula was a marketed as an improved replacement for the flagship soda, but the outcry was immediate and sustained. Coke tried to sell both versions for awhile, but eventually reverted to "Coca-Cola ClassicCharles Kelly/Shutterstock

New Coke

What do you do when you sell one of the most popular soft drinks on the planet? Change the formula, of course. That’s what the makers of Coca-Cola did back in 1985. After getting flooded with letters from angry customers, the company did a face-palm and announced the return of Coca-Cola “classic.” This was such a big deal that, according to TIME, news anchor Peter Jennings interrupted an episode of General Hospital to break the news. Check out these foods that were invented by accident.

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Sony Betamax

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, this machine went to war with the VHS…and lost, badly. But, despite dismal sales and complete irrelevance, Sony continued to make the machines until 2002 and didn’t stop manufacturing Betamax videotapes until 2016. Talk about commitment! Learn about the 10 accidental discoveries that changed the world.

Crinkle cut potato chips on old kitchen table. Potato chips poured out from packing.Jiri Hera/Shutterstock

Olestra

No fat, no calories, no problem, right? Wrong. This food additive promised to transform America’s expanding waistlines, but all it did was send people to the bathroom doubled-over in pain. Side effects of eating Olestra include intense diarrhea and anal leakage, according to ABC. (Sincere apologies if you are eating lunch while reading this story.)

N-GAGE A player tries ActiVisions Tony Hawks Pro Skater video game release on the "N-Gage," Nokia's newest hybrid phone, in Los Angeles. Nokia announced the wireless game device, N-Gage, on the second day of the games industry trade show Electronic Entertainment Expo E3 conference. The Tri-band EGSM 900/GSM1800/GSM 1900 phone included features: Bluetooth, digital music player and recorder, stereo FM radio, MP3, AAC, Midi, WAV ringing tones, and WAP over GPRSDAMIAN DOVARGANES/Shutterstock

Nokia N-gage

Before there was Nintendo DS or Sony PSP, there was this: a handheld game system that could also make calls and send texts. While that sounds common now, it wasn’t back in 2003. On paper, this device seems like it would have been a slam dunk, but in reality, it was an airball. Users complained about its odd shape, weird screen dimensions, and awkward keyboard design. And also, the price. The N-gage sold for $300, which was a lot then but, honestly, sounds like a complete bargain now. Don’t miss the 8 most ironic inventions ever.

Barrels of Coors beer stand at Coors Field in Denver. Miller Coors' sustainability report, shows the brewer has cut down its water use to 3.48 barrels of water per barrel of beer a 9.2 percent drop from 2012. That's roughly 1 billion barrels of waterDavid Zalubowski/Shutterstock

Coors Rocky Mountain Spring Water

Some Coors Light drinkers complain that the beer is so light that it tastes like water. Seeing an opportunity, the makers of Coors decided to turn a problem into an asset and sell water minus the beer in 1990. This wasn’t an idea that beverage drinkers could stomach, and the line of sparkling flavored waters quickly fizzled out.

Bald man : Asian bald man looking from behindchalermphon_tiam/Shutterstock

Spray-on hair

Going bald, but don’t have time for toupees or Rogaine? Enter “spray-on hair.” Multiple manufacturers produce variations of this bottled bad boy which promises to fill in sparse spots on your dome. Is it pretty much like spray painting your head? Yes. Would it be more dignified to just embrace baldness? Absolutely, but who needs dignity when you have aerosol on your side? You’re sure to get a laugh from these bizarre items you can buy on Amazon.

Girl feet on the hover board.LTim/Shutterstock

Hoverboards

These things are a blast—literally. Not too long ago, shoddy manufacturing caused many boards to burst into flames, resulting in massive recalls. These days, hoverboards that are UL 2272 certified have been deemed fire-safe by experts, who say they cause no greater risk to your home than your laptop. That’s all fine and well, but riders should know that the UL 2272 certification does not, however, guarantee you won’t look like a giant dork riding one. Count this among the things kids did a decade ago that they don’t do anymore.

Pink pen in art stationery store; art, workshop, inspiration, craft. Creativity concept large choice for your imagination. (selective focus)PJjaruwan/Shutterstock

Bic for Her

As Bic learned, the pen is mightier than the sword when it comes to outraging the buying public. In 2012, they released a line of pens that were “designed to fit comfortably in a woman’s hand.” The absurdity of a pen needing to be specially-designed for female scribblers was met with hilarious backlash on online reviews. Adweek compiled some of the funniest, including this gem: “I’m confused. I thought this would work like all the similar products I’ve bought in the past, but I keep urinating on it and it won’t turn pink *OR* blue!” Here are some more hilarious product reviews that will have you cracking up.

Bride applying perfume on her neck. Wedding day.evaleenage/Shutterstock

Harley-Davidson perfume

As detailed by Milwaukee Magazine, the iconic motorcycle maker’s attempt to get in the scent business turned smelly fast. In 1996, they released a line of perfumes and colognes called “Hot Road” which featured perfumes called Black Fire, Destiny, Legendary, Hot Rod, and Territory. Bikers—and nearly everyone else—turned up their nose at this misguided attempt to sniff up some profits, and the eau de toilette went right in the toilet.

Fully-working V8 Lego engineREX/Shutterstock

LEGO Fiber Optics

According to Business Insider, the clear tubing and battery-operated LED-light system of this special LEGO set “cost more to produce than the entire set was being sold for.” (For those of you who didn’t go to business school, that’s bad.) For some more successful ventures, find out the most famous invention from every state.

Joe McKinley
Joe McKinley is a regular contributor to Reader's Digest, covering cars, careers, tech and more.