In the mid-1990s, Montblanc began selling a limited-edition pen engraved with the signature of Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers — at a price of $750 for a fountain pen or $375 for the ballpoint version. But in 1996 the company admitted it had made a mistake and recalled all the pens. The engraved signature was from the wrong Alexandre Dumas. Not the author of The Three Musketeers, but rather his not-quite-as-famous son, author of "The Lady With the Camellias.'"
The mistake was first noticed by the owner of a pen store in Toronto who was displaying a manuscript in his store that included the signature of the senior Dumas and noticed it didn't match the one on the pen. [More info: Eugene Register-Guard - Oct 6, 1996]
At the time, there was a lot of speculation that the wrong-signature pen would quickly rise in value. But no. Checking on eBay, it seems that both versions of the pen go for about the same price (anywhere from $800 to $2000). Probably because too many of the wrong-signature pens were made to make it a rare item.
Back in 1992, Emanuelle Del Vecchio had an idea for a great new business — a drive-through condom store. She called it "Condom Hut" and set up shop in a former Fotomat booth.
Unfortunately the booth was located in an area of Cranston, Rhode Island populated by very Catholic Italian-Americans, many of whom took great offense at the idea of people being able to buy birth control from the comfort of their motor vehicle.
Local residents began protesting the store. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence condemned it for "promoting sexual activity, not abstinence." A rock was thrown through its window. Graffiti was spray-painted on its front. And eventually the business folded.
America was just not ready for a drive-through condom store.
The front cover of the 1997 Thomas Guide road atlas for Los Angeles and Orange Counties boasted that the guide that year included "666 new streets."
This prompted concerned Christians to start calling the publisher of the guide, fearing that the use of the number 666 was some kind of satanic signal.
Eventually the publisher recalled the Guide and issued a new one, with a revised cover boasting only "665" new streets. A Thomas Guide spokesman said it wanted buyers to "feel confident with the use of our product."
I've found a few of the satanic Thomas Guides for sale on eBay. However, I've been unable to find any of the revised ones.
Update: I spoke too soon. Using some slightly different search terms, I was able to track down one of the revised (non-satanic) Thomas Guides for sale on eBay.
Of course, the revised cover was a bit of a hoax. There actually were 666 new streets, but they were telling people there were only 665. Unless they actually deleted one of the streets from the guide. An appropriate street to delete would have been Devilwood Circle, in Westminster, CA (Orange County).
Several sources claim that in 1999 one of the top-selling CDs in Europe was titled "Bats." It consisted entirely of the sound of bats flying around.
However, one of those sources is the Weekly World News (May 4, 1999). So not very reliable. And since I can't find any trace of this CDs existence elsewhere (I thought a copy would likely have surfaced on eBay -- but no; or on YouTube -- no again), I'm wondering if the CD was real, or one of WWN's jokes.
The other source that mentioned the CD was the Glasgow Sunday Mail, May 2, 1999. But maybe they got their info from the WWN?
Do any WUvians have the answer to this bat mystery? Was Bats really a European top-seller?
Flashbak.com has posted an interesting collection of photos (titled "Love Boat Rejects") taken by official photographers aboard American, Norwegian, and Italian cruiseships during the 1990s. Check out the full gallery here.
In the early 1990s, Diet Pepsi ran a series of successful ads that featured Ray Charles and the slogan, "You got the right one, baby, uh-huh."
But not everyone liked the ads. Arthur Takeall claimed that Pepsi stole the slogan from him, saying he had used it in his ventriloquism act for years. He would choose an attractive woman in the audience and say, "You've Got The Right One" and his puppet would then say "Uh-huh."
Takeall sued Pepsi for $130 million, but his case was dismissed by the judge. However, in 1997 the Patent and Trademark Office ruled in his favor, deciding that he was entitled to the rights to the slogan, "You got the right one, baby, uh-huh." But as far as I know, it was a bit of a hollow victory since Pepsi never paid him any money.