There are certain beers, energy drinks, vodkas and cocktails with ridiculous and controversial names.
While we must agree that having a controversial name could be the perfect marketing tactic — as we will see in some instances here — it could also lead to the reverse and become the perfect demarketing tactic.
In severe instances, it could even lead to a ban on the drink and have it thrown out of the market entirely.
10 Cocaine Energy Drink
Cocaine energy drink is a product of Redux Beverages of Las Vegas.
In case you are wondering, the drink does not contain cocaine although the name and marketing tactic used by Redux was enough to convince some people that it did.
Redux marketed the drink as being “350 times stronger than Red Bull” and “the legal alternative” to cocaine.
It added that special ingredients would make the drinker’s throat feel the same way it would feel if they were taking real cocaine.
After receiving series of complaints, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accused Redux of promoting the drink as an alternative to cocaine.
Redux did not deny the allegation although it explained the drink was an alternative to cocaine just as celibacy was an alternative to premarital sex.
However, it suspended sales and started working on a new name over fears that the FDA could take legal actions.
Redux later renamed the energy drink “No Name” and “Insert Name Here”.
9 Raging Bitch Beer
Raging Bitch beer, a product of Flying Dog Brewery, once ran into problems with the state of Michigan over its name.
At this moment, we will all agree that Raging Bitch is a downright controversial name for a beer. Even its label depicts a wild female dog exposing its privates and what looks like a woman’s breasts.
The Michigan Liquor Control Commission originally banned the beer because its name and label posed a health and safety risk to the public and contained words that could promote discrimination against women, violence and racism.
The Flying Dog Brewery protested the ban in court, marking the beginning of inconsistent reasons listed by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission for banning the beer.
At one hearing, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission said Raging Bitch was a derogatory term for a woman.
At another, it said the beer was banned to protect minors. It added that its label also depicted women as wild dogs that needed to be tamed.
The court did not think so and ordered the state to pay damages to the brewery. The brewery used the money to start the 1st Amendment Society to promote the freedom of speech.
8 Pussy Energy Drink
Pussy energy drink is the brainchild of British entrepreneur, Jonnie Shearer.
Shearer did not have a marketing budget when he started his company, Pussy Drinks, so he decided to go with a controversial name that would allow the drink market itself. He chose the name, Pussy.
As Pussy Drinks would later claim after one of its adverts was banned in the UK, its drink has no relationship with the sexual word. Rather, it is named after the pussy cat.
The banned ad was a poster that had the word “Pussy” written in capital letters. Below it was the tagline, “The drink’s pure, it’s your mind that’s the problem.”
160 complaints later, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) realized the drink was the problem and asked the company to pull the ad.
According to ASA, concerned citizens complained that pussy had sexual meanings and was demeaning to women. Besides, there were concerns that the ad could be seen by children.
In its defence, Pussy Drinks simply reminded everyone of its tagline, stating that it was the complainant’s minds were the problem and not its drinks. It was at this point that it reminded us the Oxford English Dictionary defines a pussy as a cat or kitten.
While ASA agreed with Pussy Drinks definition, it added that pussy had other offensive meanings. The ad remains banned.
7 Fucking Hell Ale
Contrary to what English speaking people might think, Fucking Hell ale is named after Fucking, a town in Austria and hell, the Austrian and south German word for ale.
The Fucking town council opposed the name of the ale since the brewery that produced it was not based in the town.
Besides, townspeople feared the ale would entice souvenir hunters who were fond of stealing its signs. About 13 signs have been stolen already, forcing the town to mold the new signs into concrete.
A complaint sent to the EU Trademark Office (possibly by the town) stated that Fucking Hell was a derogatory name for a drink. Its only meaning was that whoever was reading it “should go to hell”.
The EU Trademark Office agreed that the name of the ale could be insulting. However, it still trademarked it since the supposed insult was not directed at anyone.
Besides, it argued that there was nothing wrong with using the name of a place for a product even if the name had other meanings in other languages.
6 Irish Car Bomb Cocktail
The Irish Car Bomb cocktail is the unofficial St. Patrick’s Day drink of the United States.
In its most basic form, it is a mixture of Irish whisky and Bailey’s Irish Cream. Sometimes, Kahlúa and Guinness are added to the mix.
The cocktail was first mixed by Charles Oat on St Patrick’s Day, 1976.
Oat created the drink by chance. Bailey’s Irish Cream had just been introduced to the US at that time and bars just mixed it with any drink they could lay their hands on.
Oat mixed his Bailey’s Irish Cream with Irish whisky and the cocktail was born.
He called it IRA but for some reasons, people soon started screaming “Bombs away!” to order the drink. It was this term that would later inspire its new name, the Irish Car Bomb.
While popular in the US, the Irish Car Bomb is controversial in the UK where it only reminds people of The Troubles — decades of years of guerrilla warfare and bombings by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) against the United Kingdom.
This is worsened by the fact that IRA often used car bombs in its terror campaign.
5 Ghandi-Bot Ale
Ghandi-Bot ale was produced by the New England Brewing Company of Connecticut. It was named after Indian activist, Mahatma Gandhi, and even included his picture on its label.
The brewery marketed the ale as an “ideal aid for self-purification and the seeking of truth and love”. Now here was the problem: Gandhi was against the consumption of alcohol.
The brewery found itself in problems after an Indian lawyer took legal actions against it in Hyderabad, India. The lawyer argued the brewery had insulted Gandhi, which was an offence under Indian laws.
New England Brewing Company apologized over the name of the ale. However, it committed another faux pas after it stated that it was its own way of paying homage to Gandhi.
Prasad Srinivasan, a Connecticut state legislator of Indian origins, stated that he found the brewery’s statement more offensive and insensitive than the name of the supposed “aromatic and fully vegetarian” ale.
New England Brewing Company later change the name controversial ale to G-Bot.
4 Five Wives Vodka
The state of Idaho banned the Five Wives vodka over concerns that its name was a pun on polygamy, which used to be common in neighboring Utah. The vodka’s label itself contained a questionable picture of five women holding kittens near their privates.
The Idaho Liquor Division denied banning the vodka and mentioned that it merely didn’t make the cut to be listed among the approved alcohols to be sold in the state’s liquor stores.
However, this did not explain why it forbade citizens from buying the drinks through special orders.
Whichever, Idaho Liquor Division agreed that the vodka’s name and label would not have made the state approve it even if it made the shortlist.
Tim Smith, the owner of the Utah-based Ogden distillery that produced Five Wives, dismissed claims that the vodka’s name was about polygamy.
He clarified that the vodka was named in honor of the five women that traveled with the 66 men on the Bartleson-Bidwell caravan in 1841.
Smith added that the women were holding the kittens below their belly buttons.
While he agreed that some will say the kittens were near their privates, he considered them as being below their belly buttons.
3 Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale and Backwoods Bastard Ale
Dirty Bastard beer was banned by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in Alabama over concerns that its name contained profanity.
Ironically, the same Alabama approved the sales of other ridiculously named beers like Fat Bastard and Raging Bitch.
To be fair to the state, it had approved Fat Bastard and Raging Bitch beers two years before it rejected Dirty Bastard. In fact, it even considered revoking their licenses but later backtracked.
After some quibbling, Alabama approved the sales of Dirty Bastard beer along with Backwoods Bastards ale, which is brewed by the same company.
2 Crazy Horse Malt Liquor
Crazy Horse malt liquor is produced by G. Heilman Brewing Company of Wisconsin although the name is a trademark of Hornell Brewing Company, Brooklyn.
It was released in 1992 and quickly became a source of controversy.
Apparently, Crazy Horse was the name of an Ogala-Sioux Native American tribal leader that lived in the 19th century.
The real Crazy Horse was against the way white people lived and refused to partake in their habits and traditions like sitting for portraits and drinking alcohol.
This was the reason why Native Americans, including the descendants of Crazy Horse, protested against the liquor named after their ancestor.
Hornell and G. Heilman could not deny the relationship between the real Crazy Horse and the malt liquor since the liquor’s label contained a portrait of a Native American man wearing a headdress.
Washington and Minnesota later banned the liquor. Minnesota said this was necessary as the name was misleading because Crazy Horse opposed the consumption of alcohol.
In its defence, a spokesperson for Hornell Brewing Company said the brewery was not the only one using Crazy Horse’s name on products Crazy Horse would have objected. Other businesses also used his name for tobacco products and striptease clubs.
1 Stiffy’s Vodka
Stiffy Jaffa Cake and Stiffy Kola Kubez vodkas are products of Stiffy’s Shots Ltd, UK.
Both vodkas were banned by Portman Group, an independent group established by UK alcohol producers to regulate the promotion of alcohol and promote responsible consumption of alcohol in the UK.
The problem was the name ”Stiffy”, which according to Portman Group, could be mistaken to mean a male erection and mislead consumers to assume the vodka improves sexual prowess.
Stiffy Shots clarified that the name had nothing to do with sexual prowess. The vodka was only named after Stiffy, the nickname of one of the people who created the drink.
Stiffy Shots later changed the name of the vodka to Stivy.