Beans, the children’s song goes, are the musical fruit — the more you eat, the more you toot. Beans aren’t an actual fruit, of course, but when kids are making up songs about flatulence, rhyming trumps reality. And while there’s some truth to the idea that the rhyme notes — perhaps these non-fruits do have such an effect — one of the lines of the song is just plain wrong. The verse that claims “the more you toot, the better you feel,” is arguable to a degree, but too much tooting may not be so great for the bottom line.
One potential example: Bambeanos. As the image above notes, were a “roasted soybean snack” which came in a few flavors, such as “plain,” “onion,” “barbeque,” and “cheese.” (Eww.) The product made sense in theory. Eating soybeans has a litany of positive potential health benefits; Wikipedia lists off a bunch of benefits ranging from improved brain activity to lower cholesterol. So in 1975, Colgate-Palmolive introduced the product above, expecting to cash in on what could be marketed as a healthy alternative to peanuts or popcorn. At the cost of $750,000 — that’s more than $3 million if you adjust for inflation — they came up with and began to market the product above.
According to the New York Times, the product had a devoted following — but a small one. As the product’s Wikipedia entry claims, Colgate-Palmolive sold only about 25,000 cases of the snack. The problem? Bambeanos, Wikipedia further notes, caused the snacker to pass gas, and often. And for all the health benefits the roasted soybean snack claimed to carry with it, it wasn’t supposed to be good for your heart in that way. The source of that fact is hard to pin down — the history of a little-loved product from forty years ago has few news articles about it — but there’s reason to believe its veracity. In 1976, Colgate-Palmolive discontinued the product, cutting short its typical product testing run, for reasons unknown. This hastily-made decision cost them another $571,000, as their soybean supplier, United Roasters, sued them for breach of contract, and won that amount in damages.
In total, the failed flatulence beans cost Colgate-Palmolive nearly $5 million in today’s dollars, account for inflation. Perhaps they should have invested in US Patent 5871801 A: “a process for producing reduced-flatulence, legume-based snack foods.”
From the Archives: Ignution: Nuts that combust.