Sunday, March 14, 2021

This Week In Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Marketing Decisions: Ayds Diet Candy

Today on This Week In Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Marketing Decisions, we'll examine the soaring rise and spectacular fall of Ayds Appetite Suppressant Candy.

If you grew up in the late 1970s and early 1980s, you couldn't avoid Ayds (heh), as it was heavily advertised in every major magazine and featured in countless commercials on TV.

The idea behind the product was simple— just pop a piece of Ayds into your mouth (heh) before a meal and then wash it down with a glass of warm water. This would supposedly cause you to feel full so you wouldn't eat so much at dinnertime.

The candy also contained a chemical that deadened your taste buds, which would presumably cause you to lose interest in snacking. After a few weeks of that, why the pounds would just drop off!

Ayds was developed by the Carlay Company Of Chicago, which was eventually bought out by Purex (!). Amazingly the product debuted back in the 1930s, and was endorsed by movie stars who claimed it gave them their slim, hourglass figures. The name was presumably a play on the term "diet aid," but given the cutesy "MarketSpeak®" spelling of the time.

Ayds also contained phenylpropanolamine, a chemical which was outlawed in Canada. It was found to cause excessive sweating, drying of mucus glands and even strokes (!). Eh, who cares about all that if it gets you back into last year's slacks?

Despite the risks and side effects, the product enjoyed great success all the way up to the early 1980s, when disaster suddenly struck. You can probably guess why. 

In June of 1981, hundreds of young homosexual men began dying from a mysterious, unknown illness. The CDC dubbed this new disease "Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome," or... AIDS for short.

Yep, suddenly Ayds Appetite Suppressant Candy was just a single letter away from one of the most terrifying and insidious diseases of all time— ironically an illness whose main symptom was catastrophic weight loss (!). Holy Crap! 

It didn't help that the company's slogan was, "Why take diet pills when you can enjoy Ayds?"

OK, so far none of this was the Ayds' company's fault, as they'd been using the name without incident for decades. The blame rested solely on the CDC, who came along and ruined everything with their stupid acronym. Would it have killed them to call it something something slightly different?

As sales dropped alarmingly, the company wisely attempted to rebrand their product. Unfortunately the new name they chose was "Diet Ayds." Are you f*cking kidding me? How did they not realize that "Ayds" was the root problem? I get that brand recognition is a thing, but Jesus!

Eventually sales dropped off too far, and Ayds was pulled from the shelves for good sometime in the early 1990s. Let this be a lesson to companies out there— try not to name your products after deadly diseases.

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