Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism
Arkansas has long been a nucleus for both industry and innovators. Despite our modest population, we have produced some of the most renowned businesses, brands, and entrepreneurs the world now knows.
But history is written by the victors. Few people talk about the ideas and inventors that never quite took hold in (or outside) the Natural State. What follows is a complete list.
(Thanks to Will Churchill, Kelsie Craig, Beau Wilcox and Matt Baker for their revisions and additions.)
"Pits Deodorant." A Russellville inventor bankrupted himself and his family by creating this delightful peach-scented roll-on by fatefully marketing it entirely around the "pit."
"Beyond Crab Rangoon." This South Asian restaurant was universally reviewed as impeccable, but, like so many things, suffered the fate of being in Cabot.
"That-Burping-Up-Sausage-Taste-In-A-Biscuit." A hapless side effect of a late '70s artificial flavors craze at a Paragould baked goods company.
"Olive Garden's 'Never Ending Side of Sour Cream.' " Under pretense of supposed value, local franchise attempts "endless supply" ploy of cheap, unpopular condiment.
"Polio." In blind taste tests, this lemon-flavored soda was chosen 4-to-1 over both Sprite and 7-Up, yet only sold one six-pack to a man in Bixby, Okla. (No record exists for why they chose the name and calls were not returned.)
"Chicken Soup for the Stomach." Floundering attempt to piggyback on early '90s self-help trend with repackaged cans of Campbell's just too literal for targeted consumers.
"Just For Pubes Shampoo (AKA Shampube)." This White County product is self-explanatory, as is its failure.
"Jeff Leppard." Little Rock drummer Jeff Bagwell started first-ever Def Leppard tribute band, but distressed prospective fans when he cut off his own left arm for authenticity.
"Tweaker." Social media platform devised by Madison County man known simply as Roy Dog. The idea was to express rapid and powerful thoughts in 140,000 characters or less.
"Guitars and Cadillacs." This Dwight Yoakam-themed Hot Springs restaurant failed for myriad reasons, not the least of which was that the wait staff was comprised of thin, balding, middle-aged men in blood-pressure-cuff-tight Wranglers with bulging goobers.
"Fish N Hips." The seamless synergy of catfish buffet and exotic dance club went wrong when hot grease met acrylic heels. Batesville residents left wanting.
"Taipai Personality." Despite delicious Taiwanese dishes, this all-hours Fort Smith restaurant closed within a month due to its overbearing and controlling staff.
"Meat Coaster." A Dardanelle man received three years probation when Kirkland's employees contracted hepatitis from contact with these kitschy drink caddies (which were later determined to be nothing more than fossilized Petit Jean-brand bologna).
"Larry's Tijuana Hunan." This double-barreled Chinese/Mexican Texarkana buffet received the Arkansas Health Department's first-ever "Death Penalty" when their inflatable jump castle became an unintended vomitorium.
"DeSoto Adventures." Dotcom millionaire and amateur historian Noel Buffton offered eco-tours to "capture the spirit of the conquistadors." Under Buffton's lead, tourists trekked through the lowland swamps of St. Francis, Lee and Phillips counties with several hundred pigs and cattle in tow searching for "El Dorado." Just when it looked like Buffton's project might prevail, he was sued by the real city of El Dorado, came down with a severe fever, became delirious and jumped into Lake Chicot wearing heavy leather garments and his morion.
"Murray Lock and DAMN! Water Park" Joint venture between foreign investors and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to turn a piece of our aging infrastructure into a profit generator. Over fears of turning swimmers into catfish chum, project managers became so focused on safety measures that they neglected to make it fun. As one park-goer said before its close: "Slide don't work."
"Graham Gordy." As an author, his first book, entitled "101 Winning Ways at Blackjack," sold over 100,000 copies before being banned for explicit language and unnecessary pornographic content. His next book, entitled "My First Book," was a financial and critical failure which spurred him to write his next book, "No, This Is Really My First Book." Again a financial and critical failure, it was reissued under the title, "My Last Book."