Twinkies, Polaroids, and Other Popular Products That Have Been Revived

Retail Revival


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Retail Revival


A dead brand won't stay dead for long if there's still money to be made off of it. There are a whole lot of companies out there looking to wring more money out of dormant brands or forgotten products and brands that still have the power of name recognition and might inspire some nostalgia shopping. Some products you may not realize ever left, but you’re likely to appreciate the new and possibly improved version. 



Digital cameras did a number on Polaroid. The company filed for bankruptcy twice in the 2000s. Its latest incarnation, Polaroid Originals, was considered such a longshot that its original name was Impossible Project. However, Polaroid is back as an instant/digital hybrid all and will sell you an old-school instant camera if you like, but is more interested in bringing Polaroid into the 21st century through digital imaging and smartphone connectivity.

Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars
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Chuck Taylor is a basketball Hall of Famer, but best known for the sneaker that bear his name. Though high-top sneakers have been around since the early 20th Century, Taylor promoted these in the 1930 and sales went through the roof. However, though bands like The Ramones and Nirvana embraced them, brands like Nike and Adidas began to take over the athletic market. By the mid-'90s, ownership and management changed on numerous occasions and, by 2001, Converse was drifting into bankruptcy. However, in 2003, Nike took over Converse and began tinkering with Chuck Taylors by expanding colorways and making them one of the first fashion-forward anytime sneakers. Today, Converse offers hundreds of pairs of everyday and limited-edition Chucks for every occasion.  

Back To The Future Part Iii | The Delorean


John DeLorean was an engineer for Packard, helped usher in the muscle car era for General Motors, and got celebrities and the British government to invest in his DeLorean Motor Company in 1973. He also thought trafficking cocaine would be great revenue source to make his $25,000 ($149,000 in 2019 dollars) gull-winged, stainless-steel cars. DeLorean sold just 9,000 vehicles, but the DMC-12's appearance in 1985’s “Back to the Future” made it a pop culture icon. Amazingly, not only is a Texas company now selling older models in a limited number of states, but it has plans to produce new DeLoreans in the near future.

Hostess Twinkies
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It did not look good for Hostess in 2012, when the more than 150-year-old company filed for bankruptcy from beneath a crushing pile of debt. Though its snack cake empire initially scattered to various bakers including Little Debbie owner McKee Foods and Tastykake owner Flowers Foods after its sale in 2013 for $410 million, it eventually was purchased by a private equity company for $725 million in 2016. Today, it is not only a publicly traded company, but all its snacks from Twinkees to Ding Dongs are back on shelves. 

Moleskine Journal
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No, these journals weren't always just hanging out at independent bookstores waiting for someone to scrawl on their pages. Though usage of the little black books date back centuries and fans include Vincent Van Gogh and Ernest Hemingway, they fell out of favor. However, in 1997, a small Milanese publisher brought them back from the dead, named them Moleskine, and found willing buyers in angsty Gen X and Millennial literati.

Ektachrome Film
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When Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012, it was seen as the end of film and the last hurrah for professional-grade Ektachrome 16-millimeter, 35-millimeter, and Super 8 formats. However, last year Kodak announced that not only was Ektachrome's color-reversal 35-millimeter film coming back, but the other two motion-picture films would return as well. If you still have your old camera, now is the time to get it out.

Old Spice
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How was a brand dating back to 1937 with a sailboat as its logo supposed to compete for the same consumers as bro-bound Axe? The answer for Old Spice was rebranding “Glacial Falls” as “Swagger” and getting ad firm Wieden + Kennedy to launch the “Smell Like a Man, Man” campaign. By the end of 2010, sales of body wash increased 27% and 40 million people had watched the new Old Spice ads.

Marvel The Avengers
Courtesy of Marvel Studios


Long before the Avengers owned the summer box office, Marvel was its own worst enemy. It spent the '80s releasing awful film versions of comics like “Howard the Duck” and “The Punisher.” It spent the '90s putting out so many “special-release” comics that comic-book fans and even artists started backing away. In late 1996, it filed for bankruptcy. However, the Marvel Enterprises that emerged from bankruptcy restructured, refocused, and recommitted to film with willing partners at 20th Century Fox. The success of 1997's “Men in Black,” 1998's “Blade,” 2000's “X-Men,” and 2002's “Spider-Man” drew enough attention from Disney to inspire a $4 billion acquisition. 

Fao Schwarz Toys


The massive toy store on New York's Fifth Avenue was iconic enough to be featured in the movie “Big” with Tom Hanks, but not big enough to avoid bankruptcy in 2003 after punishing price wars with Target and Walmart. Even a buyout from Toys R Us didn't help, as that retailer closed the beloved flagship location in 2015 and effectively killed the brand. However, the same ThreeSixty Group that initially bought The Sharper Image not only bought the brand, but opened a new retail location in New York's Rockefeller Plaza last year. 

My Little Pony


Hasbro asked for a pony toy and got an on-again, off-again generational franchise. The first incarnation in the '80s and early '90s was a toy-selling machine complete with its own cartoon series and movie (both produced by Marvel Comics, 1986's “My Little Pony: The Movie” was Marvel's first film). While more ponies were produced in the '90s to lesser fanfare, the success of the Transformers movie in 2007 led to the “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” series and a flood of Brony supporters. The original six My Little Pony dolls were re-released last year, bringing this whole pony show full circle. 

Keds Champion
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Keds go all the way back to 1916, became the comfort shore of choice in the 1940s, and eventually found their way onto Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Yoko Ono in the 1960s and '70s. While they were the shoes that Baby learned the mambo in during 1987's “Dirty Dancing,” Keds spent much of the '80s, '90s, and 2000s being so low-key and ubiquitous that they were deemed “mom shoes.” Today, Taylor Swift is at the front of their campaigns, the Kate Spade brand has transformed them into wedding sneakers

Netflix Content
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It’s often hard to remember that, eight years ago, Netflix had nearly blown up its entire universe. After years of bolstering its fledgling streaming service with its DVD-by-mail core service, Netflix announced in 2011 that it would no longer offer a plan that includes both unlimited streaming and DVDs by mail. Subscribers were told to join two different services — one called Qwikster — and hike their monthly payment. More than 800,000 customers left in just one quarter, and stock prices lost more than half their value in two months. Share price didn't start to recover until 2013, when Netflix debuted its first original series including “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black.”

Disney Animated Movies


If you were a child of the '70s and '80s, you weren't a Disney kid. Sure, Disneyland and Walt Disney World were there, but films like “The Rescuers,” “The Fox and The Hound,” “The Black Cauldron” and “Oliver and Company” weren't quite as prominent as “The Secret of NIMH” or “The Land Before Time.” Even '90s kids who grew up on “Aladdin” watched as Disney lost ground to Pixar and Dreamworks Films. Disney bought Pixar in 2006 and soon the Mouse scored animated hits with “Tangled,” “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Frozen” and others.

Buy It: Lego


Lego came into being in 1932 and basically cruised until about 2002, when electronic toys began taking a big piece of its business. Lego’s sales dropped 30 percent in 2003 and another 10 percent in 2004, as the company took on more than $1 billion in debt and approached bankruptcy. However, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp stepped in as CEO in 2004, cut costs (and workforce), and introduced popular Lego lines like Ninjago while tying into franchises like Star Wars and Harry Potter. Though its popularity has increased tremendously with help from its own line of movies, the demise of partners like Toys R Us and a downturn in sales in 2017 suggests there's still more building to do.



In the early 2000s, Starbucks leaned hard on its premium espresso, its bohemian coffeehouse vibe, and its ties to the music industry. But when the economic downturn hit in 2008, Starbucks closed more than 900 stores and watched its stock price dwindle from more than $19 in 2006 to less than $4 by the end of 2008. That year, Starbucks refocused on customer service (closing all stores for a day to retrain employees), engaged with customers over social media, rolled out a commercial campaign, and introduced customer rewards cards. Today, Starbucks' share price sits at more than $400.

Nintendo Consoles


Though Nintendo has weathered many ups and downs, the real Nintendo revival story starts with Sony designing it a disc-based gaming expansion for the Super Nintendo back in 1988, scuttled the deal over licensing money, and released its own PlayStation instead. Nintendo would spend the late '90s and early 2000s a distant third to Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox. It took the release of the motion-controlled Wii to launch it back into the consoled discussion in 2006, selling more than 90 million consoles. 

Volkswagen Beetle
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The iconic Beetle dates back to World War II, but by the mid-1970s other compact cars came on the scene and forced Volkswagen to ditch it for the Golf hatchback. For roughly 20 years, the Beetle disappeared until a New Beetle concept car surfaced in 1994. Engineers had put the engine up front, added front wheel drive and a more spacious interior, and make it look like an updated version of the original. At its peak in the late '90s, the new Beetle sold more than 80,000 vehicles in the U.S. The 2019 New Beetle is the last of its run, but don't count out another comeback

SodaStream Fizzi Sparkling Water Maker
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SodaStream has been around since 1903, but hit a stride in the U.K. in the 1970s and '80s when it told households to “get busy with the fizzy.” Roughly 40 percent of British homes owned one, but it slid into obscurity by the early 2000s. Israeli private equity firm Fortissimo Capital bought the rights to it in 2007 and, as global consumers began to be wary of soda consumption, it pushed SodaStream as a healthy alternative. SodaStream held so much appeal years later that, in 2018, PepsiCo bought the rights to it for $3.2 billion

Dr. Martens 101 Smooth
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UK punks that made the work boot fashionable in the '70s revived Doc Martens and grunge bands brought them back to prominence in the '90s, but most recently models and Instagram influencers have driven double-digit percentage-point sales growth, as have collaborations with Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garçon, Engineered Garments, Vetements, and others. Doc Martens has grown from a favorite of various subcultures to a firmly embraced staple of fashion's mainstream. 

The Muppets
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In the '50s, they were Jim Henson's little felt inventions. By the '80s, they had become the stars of “Sesame Street,” “The Muppet Show,” and myriad movies. But after Jim Henson's death in 1990, the Muppets began to lose ground. Sold to a German firm and then to Disney, the Muppets were overshadowed by Pixar releases and a rapidly changing culture. But when Jason Siegel and Nicholas Stoller wrote 2011's “The Muppets” as a labor of love, it became the felt stars’ biggest box-office hit since the '80s, taking in more than $160 million.

Apple Store | Fast Wi-fi For People Having Trouble With Their Expensive Laptop


The fable is that Apple had a great time in the 1970s and early 1980s with Apple II and Apple III computers, booted Steve Jobs in the mid-1980s due to creative differences, got its clock cleaned by Microsoft, and malingered until Jobs came back in 1997. While much of that is true, it took Jobs a few aborted products like the Pippin and Newton before the iMac, iPod, and, eventually iPhone turned Apple from an also-ran to the PC to the harbinger of the technological future. In 1997, the year Jobs came back, Apple shares sold for less than $1 apiece. At their peak in 2018, they sold for more than $220.

Sharper Image Luxury Goods
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In the current retail apocalypse, it's hard to imagine that a store founded in 1977 that sold fan-equipped pith helmets in “When Harry Met Sally” wouldn’t file for bankruptcy. Still, private equity firm Camelot Venture Group bought Sharper Image in 2009 and relaunched the website and catalog in 2010. In December 2016, consumer products maker ThreeSixty Group bought Sharper Image for $100 million and licensed products to Target, Macy's, and Bed Bath & Beyond. The website and catalog live on. 

Target by Mike Mozart (CC BY)


Target was just another discount chain before its mid-'90s Renaissance, when it changed direction by advertising in fashion magazines and forged partnerships with Michael Graves, Isaac Mizrahi, Missoni, and Lilly Pulitzer. After losing its way following the recession of 2008 and focusing on the bottom line instead of fashion-forward collaborations, Target is returning to its “cheap chic” formula, rolling out 17 in-house brands since 2017 and last year scoring its strongest same-store sales growth in 13 years.

Related: 14 Secrets for Shopping at Target