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KYFORKY IS 10 YEARS OLD: 10 Worst Product Ideas We Ever Had

By KY for KY Store Admin |

2021 marks 10 YEARS OF KENTUCKY FOR KENTUCKY and we're gonna celebrate all year long!

We don't know a better way to say Happy Birthday to Us than by showing you our TEN WORST PRODUCT IDEAS WE EVER HAD! 

Some of these products actually saw light of day... some did not. Those that did make it into the world failed extremely epically. Can we say though, that actually we love all of these except the Deliverance Socks - those are really terrible.

"I'm just glad all of these are Whit's ideas" — Griff


1. Turtleman Turtleneck


Turtle shells printed on the back of turtlenecks

Call of the Wildman was a thing for a few years in the early 20-teens, which followed Earnie Brown, Jr. aka, The Turtleman, around lakes and ponds near his hometown in Lebanon, Kentucky, as he caught live animals with his bare hands. We thought, "Hey, here's a Kick Ass Kentuckian doing Kick Ass stuff, we should make a shirt honoring him."

The Turtleman Turtleneck was born and designed (actually, a couple versions were drafted with designs on the backs), but challenges ensued. It was almost impossible to find turtlenecks to print on, but the team could could find mock turtlenecks. Fine. Good enough, I guess. It was close to Halloween so we thought we could get them printed by then. But getting them printed in time wasn't possible. Fine. Still need to get them printed because this idea is SO GOOD. So we sold them during an Epic Warehouse Sale and quickly realized no one was going to pay full price for them and dumped them into the $5 bins.

RIP Turtleman Turtlenecks 

2. Bourbon Breath Kids Tee

Kid fake drinking bourbon

Kid wearing a Bourbon Breath t-shirt

Our Bourbon Breath adult t-shirt did so well we thought we should put it on a kids tee. We thought it would probably do well, too. And also it's funny, right? In order to really do an awesome job promoting this tee, we did a photo shoot with an actual kid. It was cute and funny. The kid was not drinking bourbon, duh. We posted the picture and soon after Andrew, the only person working at the time, got a phone call. Then another, and another, and... Bourbon distilleries, Bourbon distillery ownership groups, and eventually the Kentucky Distillers Association called to say NOPE. Andrew couldn't get in touch with Whit or Griff so he just took their names and numbers for a while. We didn't reprint them.   

3. Deliverance Socks

Teal socks with Yellow Pigs and Banjos Patterned

We got one sample made of these, which is further along in the process than they should have gotten. This is a horrible idea. Who in their right mind would want a pair of Deliverance socks?

4. Three Rooster Sun Tee

Black t-shirt with three roosters howling at a moon

We actually really love this t-shirt. Like, really love it. It's a riff off of the Three Wolf Moon t-shirt that had gained viral internet popularity in 2008 and even has it's own wikipedia page dedicated to it. 8 years later, ya' know... Three Roosters Sun. It will CRUSH. This also happened to be a design that Whit talked about in every single meeting. Every. Single. One. So much so that we finally just had to get it over with in order to move on with our lives.

Somehow it turned into a 12-color design, which meant it was going to be extremely expensive to print. Wouldn't matter, though, would it? People would LOVE this t-shirt! A few people bought the shirt. Bless them.

5. Belly Tees: Mammoth Cave Tee & Bourbon Belly

Black t-shirt with Bourbon Belly text across the belly

These tees didn't sell at all.

6. I Don't Wear A Mask Because I'm a Selfish Idiot

I Don't Wear A Mask Because I'm A Selfish Idiot

Maybe you would think this is a worst idea because of the amount of anti-maskers this pissed off. That was all fine but almost nobody bought the t-shirt because only maskers would wear a shirt like this and it wouldn't really make sense for them to wear it. It still made us all laugh really hard. Shout out to our truly smart fans who correctly called this "one of the worst marketing ideas of all time."

7. Pool Float

Blue slightly deflated pool float

There's some internal discussion about whether this should be on the WORST PRODUCT IDEAS list. The Hern doesn't think it belongs on the list because it "could've been a wild success!" But there was no way this thing was going to get made. We dropped a chunk of change for the sample and Toni spent hundreds of email and slack exchanges getting the sample in-store so we could try it out. It's just a sadly-bit too small for most people's bodies to fit on. We would have had buy 500 of them and sell them for 50 bucks each, which is, like, way too much for a sad pool float. The noble effort still resides in the Fun Mall.

Screenshot showing 100 emails

8. The Winning UK Men's Basketball Tee

In Case of Winning Burn Couch

Andrew did find the tee. He finds everything. He also will never forget that all this went down on a Sunday morning. He says "I probably wasn't wearing pants. Then my phone started blowing up. 'Get this shirt online we gotta launch it. We Gotta Launch It!'" He did. He got it on the site for Kentucky basketball fans. Then about an hour later, more texts: take it down TAKE IT DOWN! He did that, too.

9. Tom Cruise Lived in Louisville


Tom Cruise Attended High School

We have several tees about famous Kentuckians, like the George Clooney shirt. We also have several tees featuring Kentucky factoids, like the Bourbon Barrel shirt. This tee has both! I mean, it could be said this is even a formula for success for us. We were sure it would do well and did everything right. We even made a whole, very involved, journal post for it. At the end of the day this tee didn't sell very well. Maybe because it said "Tom Cruise" on it?

10. Go Big Blue Building

Text that reads Go Big Blue Building with a drawing of a building in Lexington

Apparently, this one was just a little too close to UK intellectual property. We didn't quite get a cease and desist, but the we did get a "Don't" text before the inevitable C&D. This tee was going to be really great for Lexington. Like, actually important to our culture. But no... it was too close. Go Big Blue is just out of our reach. So sad.

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