Book Review – Forgotten Fads and Fabulous Flops

Rhino Presents: Forgotten Fads and Fabulous Flops
Paul Kirchner
Paperback, 1995


Rhino Presents: Forgotten Fads and Fabulous Flops: An amazing collection of goofy stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time is a book about, well, stuff that only worked for a minute or two, if it worked at all.

This book is arranged alphabetically, mostly, so if you’re looking for something specific because you remember it and none of your friends do, then you’ve got a pretty good shot of finding it quickly.  But there’s no index, so if you don’t remember exactly what it was called but you do remember chewing a gum that looked like a band-aid, you’re going to have to read through the table of contents and figure out what you meant (It’s OUCH!, by the way.  And it was awesome…)

Here’s the thing.  For every item that you wonder why it didn’t work out (all the candy, for instance, is something I remember having in the 80s and liked, or there was an All in The Family toy that never sold) there is something that makes you just totally confused about what the hell it is you’re looking at.  Want a doll with prosthetic hooks for hands who comes with his own suitcase full of interchangeable prosthetic somethings?  They made that.  Want a pair of underwear that holds a condom in place so it can’t fall off?  There’s a patent for that.

So this book has two halves.  The forgotten fads part will give you a trip down memory lane (for a brief second, remember, since none of this stuff lasted all that long), and the fabulous flops part will make you scratch your head while wondering either what were they thinking or why didn’t that work.  There is a list of celebrity flop restaurants, for instance.   There is a line of perfume that BIC tried that never sold, at least in part, because the bottle made it look like a cigarette lighter, which they also make (hello, safety issue!).  There is even a urinal for women that requires one to totally remove her underwear and straddle the urinal bowl while hiking her skirts up to at least waist level.  (No thank you.)


At the end of the day, though, this book might help you win a trivia contest at your local bar, but there’s not a lot of use for it beyond that.  As somebody that keeps pretty much all of my books, I realized about 1/3 of the way through that this would be a book that there would be no point in keeping.

I’ll give it a 3/5 for finding funky stuff that is fantastic, freakish and few (and for their alliterative use of the letter F), but it’s not a book worth keeping around, so get it from the library and read it a few pages at a time between the heavier stuff.


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