In American consumer culture, certain brands have a longer shelf life than others. Some products, like Crystal Pepsi, are released with great fanfare and then fizzle out a few years later. Others, like Cheerios, will most likely be stocked in the first supermarkets built on Mars. But what is it about these products that make them stick around for so long? And which products that are still around should have conceivably gone the way of the dodo long ago?
In the retail industry, there’s something called an "orphan brand." These brands are items owned by a big company that don’t really fit in with everything else they produce. They're lonely outsiders. For example, look at Pringles, a very popular snack food, but it was owned by Procter & Gamble, which is best known for household items like Gillette razors. So even though Pringles still might be well-known, they were never a huge seller and the company had no interest in keeping the brand around. And while the Pringles brand looks like it will probably stick around for a while (it was bought by Kellogg last year), if a buyer wasn't found, they very well might have simply stopped production.
The bulk of items that are discontinued, however, meet that fate because of one simple reason: they don’t sell. When Frito-Lay came out with a line of lemonade, bigwigs thought that it would be a natural extension of the line of salty snacks. It never worked its way into anyone’s hearts, though, so it was dropped.
Some brands, however, stem the tide. Even though they’re not big sellers, they’ve remained on store shelves for one primary reason: nostalgia.
Take Ovaltine, for example. Just about everyone who grew up in the 1950s most likely remembers drinking the stuff, but it doesn’t sell nearly as well as it used to, and it’s far from the crown jewel of its parent company, Nestlé. But it has a place in the heart of millions of people all over the world, so you can bet that it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
And look at Hostess, which produces the classic Twinkie. The company essentially shut down last year, and could have easily taken Twinkies down with the ship, but the classic junk food is so engrained in American popular culture that several companies have stepped up and are negotiating to purchase the rights to it.
And then there are the extreme cases, like Bonomo Turkish Taffy. Once a popular candy, it fell out of favor and was discontinued entirely in 1989. Two intrepid entrepreneurs, however, committed themselves to bringing it back from the dead, and it’s now for sale once again.
Read on to learn of even more food brands that simply refuse to go gentle into that good night.
Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers.