Almost every consumer has mourned the apparent loss of some favorite food products. Whether it's a brand of candy from childhood or a current favorite beverage, it often seems like certain foods simply vanish without explanation. Occasionally, a specific product can be located through companies specializing in hard-to-find or regional foods, but more often than not, the item has simply disappeared from store shelves. Only the manufacturers may know precisely why.
One reason some food products fail is poor overall sales. Developing new products requires a significant amount of research, experimentation and marketing. Once a new or improved product is released to the general public, its sales are carefully tracked. If these sales figures flatten out or decrease over time, the products are often removed from store shelves quickly to make room for new varieties. Sales of vanilla-flavored colas recently experienced a significant drop in sales, leading major beverage makers to phase out their existing stock.
Another reason why certain favorite food products disappear is a revolving door of ownership. One example is the salad dressing marketed as Spin Blend in the United States. When Spin Blend was first marketed, the recipe was owned by Hellman's, a major producer of mayonnaises, salad dressings and other condiments. Spin Blend proved to be a popular item, especially in the Midwestern states.
As sales of Spin Blend began to slow, Hellman's sold the recipe and trademark rights to a smaller regional company. In turn, the rights to market Spin Blend were sold again several years later. Some products such as Spin Blend can still be found, but there is little formal distribution outside of a prescribed area.
Sometimes, food products disappear because of corporate miscalculations. The same Gerber company known for quality baby foods once tried to market individual meals for adults called Singles. The concept sounded promising on paper, but Gerber decided to use oversized jars similar to their existing baby food containers.
The target audience for Singles were working single people who only wanted single servings of canned foods. The product failed because many single professionals did not want to be reminded of their unmarried status, and the containers looked too much like baby food jars. Quite a few food products have met similar fates because of a failure to recognize the needs of the marketplace.
Occasionally, some products presumably disappear for our own protection. A sugar-free effervescing candy called Fizzies became very popular in the 1950s and 1960s, but disappeared completely by 1970. Federal studies connected artificial sweeteners called cyclamates to certain forms of cancer, causing food manufacturers to use other sweetening agents. The Fizzies formula would not work with other artificial sweeteners on the market, so it was pulled from store shelves shortly after the ban on cyclamates went into effect.
When a food colorant called Red Dye #2 was found to be carcinogenic, many red-colored food products were pulled from store shelves. For many years, red M&M candies were pulled from production, even though the manufacturers did not use Red Dye #2. Red M&Ms were only returned to the mix after the public awareness of the red dye situation had diminished.
Sometimes, favorite food products are simply abandoned in favor of ever-changing consumer preferences. Even if a certain candy or food has a nostalgic appeal for a niche market, food companies are often driven by powerful marketing forces. If there is enough of a market remaining for certain products, smaller food companies may agree to acquire the rights to produce and distribute them.