Not every product has to be useful or worthwhile to earn a ton of money. Sometimes, all you need is a really stupid idea and some great marketing to strike it rich. Below are 10 really terrible ideas that actually made a ton of money.
10 Pet Rock
Would you pay $4 for a rock that has googly eyes glued onto it? Well, if you were around in 1975 you just might have. Created by Gary Dahl, the pet rock was marketed as the perfect pet (no feeding, no walking, no grooming!). For some reason, this idea appealed to shoppers, and profits for the item topped out at a couple million before the country finally came to their senses and ended the fad.
9 Shake Weight
You’d think an exercise device that makes the user look like he’s performing a lewd sex act wouldn’t be all that popular. However, all the media attention the product got from people making fun of it actually proved helpful. Spurred in part by the 4 million views of the Shake Weight commercial on Youtube, more than two million Shake Weights have been sold. The net sales from this volume are $40 million.
The Flowbee was essentially a handheld vacuum cleaner that was used to cut your hair. Inventor Rick Eddy starting selling the product in the late 80s, claiming it could deliver “hundreds of precision layered haircuts.” However, watch the video and you’ll quickly wonder why so many of these units were sold.
Once again, the Snuggie is a prime example of a product that profited from people making fun of it. Seriously, a blanket with sleeves? Alone, this idea would have failed miserably, but throw in on a bunch of white people and make a really terrible commercial and suddenly you’ve got a hit on your hands.
6 Baby Toupee
If you just can’t wait for your baby’s hair to grow in, then Baby Toupee is for you. For just $20, you can outfit your baby in a nice set of dreads or a Donald Trump comb over. No, this product has absolutely no practical value. However, it may be worth it for parents who want to embarrass their kids with incriminating photos once they get older.
5 Chia Pet
Ch-ch-ch-chia! For everyone who needs a last-minute gift during the holidays, the Chia Pet is here to save you. First released in 1982, the original Chia ram has since been joined by a myriad of other animals, including a bunny, turtle, frog, hippo and elephant. While you’d have thought this fad would have burnt out long ago, these crap gifts are still available on shelves.
4 Inflatable Wavers
It’s a piece of plastic with a face stitched on it that flails around like a dying seizure victim. Nothing more than an attention getter, these stupid men can be seen in front of car dealerships across the country. If you need a list of all the AMAZING uses this simple invention can be used for, then maybe Family Guy is here to help…
3 The Million Dollar Homepage
Back in the early 2000s there was a string of gimmicky Internet ideas that actually proved profitable. Perhaps the most notable is the Million Dollar Homepage, which allowed advertisers to buy one pixel of ad space for $1. Thanks to plenty of media coverage, the idea went viral and ad companies bought in.
Are you sick of your dog’s sunglasses always falling off at the most inopportune times? If so, then Doggles are for you. That’s right, for absolutely no apparent reason, these goggles are specially formulated to fit a dog’s head. Thanks to the success of the product, the Doggles brand also now makes such essential products as dog backpacks and bedazzled vests.
1 Billy the Big Mouth Bass
For one summer in the late 1990s, I had the great pleasure of standing right next to a Billy the Big Mouth Bass display model in the grocery store at which I worked. For eight hours a day, I got to hear that stupid fish sing, “Take me to the river; drop me in the water.” To my surprise, people bought them… A LOT OF THEM. In fact, you can still purchase this singing fish if you are so inclined.
Originally published on September 28, 2011.
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