In his 1983 book Big Business Blunders: Mistakes in Multinational Marketing, David Ricks tells the following story:
A Japanese steel firm, Sumitomo, recently introduced its specialty steel pipe into the U.S. market. Sumitomo used a Tokyo-based, Japanese agency to help develop its advertisements. The steel was named "Sumitomo High Toughness," and the name was promoted by the acronym SHT in bold letters. So bold, in fact, that the full-page ads run in trade journals were three fourths filled with SHT. Located at the bottom of the page was a short message which ended with the claim that the product was "made to match its name." It simply cannot be overemphasized that local input is vital.
I've been able to find ads for SHT, such as the one below, but none exactly like the one that Ricks describes. Which doesn't mean the ad doesn't exist. Just that it isn't in any journals archived online.
However, among the ads for SHT that I was able to find, I found one that actually improves (and possibly complicates) Ricks's story. Because it turns out that Sumitomo had another product, Sumitomo Calcium Treatment, that it abbreviated as SCAT.
Once I could accept as an honest mistake, but coming up with scatalogical abbreviations twice seems intentional. I'm guessing either someone at Sumitomo thought it was funny, or someone at the Japanese agency was having a joke at their expense.
In order to advance medical knowledge, Dr. Stephen Sulkes and a handful of volunteers ate Hydrox cookies and later checked to see if their poop had turned black. It had. They named this phenomenon 'Hydrox Fecalis.' Their results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine (Jan 5, 1984). Reproduced below:
To the Editor:
The presence of dark stools can be a cause of consternation to the patient and is made more anxiety-producing when accompanied by abdominal pain or other discomfort. The causes of melena are well outlined in several reviews, along with the usual non-heme causes of black stools, including iron, bismuth, charcoal, licorice, and certain fruits.
To this list should be added the colorings present in chocolate sandwich cookies. In several independent tests (with myself and several volunteers as experimental subjects), the presence of black stools approximately 18 to 24 hours after ingestion of 225 to 450 g of chocolate sandwich cookies has been observed. Variation in brand of cookie did not change the stool character. Testing with other types of cookie (oatmeal, peanut butter, and chocolate chip, among others) has not resulted in the same stool findings, although abdominal pain or nausea or both appear to be equally frequent associations.
This phenomenon may be on the increase because of shifts in U.S. dietary habits, so elicitation of a good dietary history in cases of black stools and abdominal pain should be pursued. Inasmuch as "cookie-induced pseudomelena" is both unprofessional sounding and too appropriately descriptive, a suggested name for this entity is "Hydrox fecalis."
Stephen Sulkes, M.D.
Monroe Developmental Disabilities
Someone needs to repeat the experiment with Oreo cookies.
The HomeBiogas Bio-Toilet collects your poop and uses anaerobic digestion to decompose it, transforming it into biogas (methane) that you can use for cooking. The kit comes with everything you need: the toilet, the tent in which the methane conversion/collection happens, and the stove for cooking.
I'm intrigued by the idea, but I wonder if the methane would have any lingering smell. Can't find this addressed on the product website.
Along similar lines, here's an article about a university in South Korea that's using human biowaste to power a building. People who contribute their poop, by using the toilet in the building, earn "a virtual currency called Ggool, which means honey in Korean." This currency can be used to buy goods on campus.
Where a petition alleged that the plaintiff was an unmarried white lady, and that while in attendance as a guest of the defendant at a circus performance given by the defendant, and while seated in one of the seats provided by the defendant for the defendant’s guests at the circus, a horse, which was going through a dancing performance immediately in front of where the plaintiff was sitting, was by the defendant’s servant, who was riding upon the horse, caused to back towards the plaintiff, and while in this situation the horse evacuated his bowels into her lap, that this occurred in full view of many people, some of whom were the defendant’s employees, and all of whom laughed at the occurrence, that as a result thereof the plaintiff was caused much embarrassment, mortification, and mental pain and suffering, to her damage in a certain amount, that the damage alleged was due entirely to the defendant’s negligence and without any fault on the part of the plaintiff, the petition set out a cause of action and was good as against a general demurrer.
Velna Turnage was awarded $500 for her "humiliation and embarrassment".
The non-fiction book Shadows in the Sun by Wade Davis contains the following passage:
There is a well known account of an old Inuit man who refused to move into a settlement. Over the objections of his family, he made plans to stay on the ice. To stop him, they took away all of his tools. So in the midst of a winter gale, he stepped out of their igloo, defecated, and honed the feces into a frozen blade, which he sharpened with a spray of saliva. With the knife he killed a dog. Using its rib cage as a sled and its hide to harness another dog, he disappeared into the darkness.
Back in the 1960s, while observing wood storks in Florida, biologist M. Philip Kahl, Jr. noted that on hot days the storks "have the unusual habit of frequently excreting on their legs."
He eventually concluded that, since storks don't sweat, they were doing this to cool themselves down "by means of evaporative cooling of the blood supply to the legs and feet." He named this phenomenon 'urohidrosis'.
His hypothesis is now accepted as true, and it's not only storks that cool themselves by pooping on their legs. Turkey vultures do it too.
These 1987 TV ads for Doxidan laxative, featuring the 'Doxidan Cowboy,' seem to inspire both love and hate. A lot of people on YouTube remember them fondly, but in newspapers from the time they were often cited as being among the most annoying commercials on TV.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.