Great Moments In Commercial History: Ayd's

Don’t you hate it when you buy a B.S. diet “candy” and a horrible disease comes along and steals its name? From Time Magazine:

Jeffrey Martin Inc., the distributor of Ayds appetite-suppressant candy, has faced just this issue since AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, began getting public attention in mid-1981. Jeffrey Martin acquired the Ayds marketing rights from Purex at about the time of the first report of AIDS.

Sales of the diet candy had been sluggish for years when Jeffrey Martin took over the product. Says Martin Himmel, company president: “We have repackaged it, redesigned it, readvertised it and given it a new breath of life.”

My, that last quote was unfortunate. Reader Dan writes:

If you haven’t posted it before, check out this commercial for the ‘Ayds Diet’ circa 1981.
BTW, my father worked on the commercial and that’s our old station wagon at the beginning.

Nice car, Dan. Nice car.

If you’d like to nominate a commercial for our weekly series “Great Moments In Commercial History” send us an email at tips [at] consumerist [dot] com. Be sure to put “Great Moments In Commercial History” in the subject. To see other commercials that have been featured in the series, click here.—MEGHANN MARCO

Ayds, Not AIDS [Time]


Edit Your Comment

  1. jesseraub says:

    This was parodied by South Park. In one episode, Jared, the Subway guy, was saying that he lost with with aids – as in personal trainers. He also mentions at one point that he wants to personally give aids to every single overweight child.

  2. moorie679 says:

    true…this was also on VH1 a couple months ago….

    Also from the makers of Ayd’s…………Cancer, use only as directed.

  3. faust1200 says:

    I posted this link in the commercial disasters story a few weeks ago. Still good fun!

    We interrupt this post to bring you the following news: Consumerist Forums have recently begun. Be the first on your block!

    Check ‘the watercooler’ to find out -something- about Ben!

  4. LAGirl says:

    wow. i totally remember AYDS. my mom used to buy them. we always wanted to eat them, because they looked like candy. but they were her ‘special’ diet treats and we weren’t allowed to have any. i think we ended up taking a few out of the box when she wasn’t looking. don’t remember anything of significance happening. wonder if they’re still around?

    love the Stepford women in the commerical.

  5. VA_White says:

    I remember AYDS. They were little squares that tasted like chocolate toffees only softer and more chewy. My brother and I also got into a box of our mom’s. If you’ve ever had a Viactiv chew, it’s really close.

    Apparently they didn’t have a diet drug in them. They swelled up in your stomach and made you feel full. At least that what everyone thought when we were kids.

  6. d0x says:

    Howard Stern has been talking about this for near 20 years. Everyonce and a while he breaks it out for a laugh.

    Poor company.

  7. d0x says:

    “We interrupt this post to bring you the following news: Consumerist Forums have recently begun. Be the first on your block!”

    Is that the real OFFICIAL forum for this site? Cause it looks horrible and straight outa the 1995 angelfire era.

  8. Snakeophelia says:

    I used to steal these out of my mom’s dresser. We were both chocolate fanatics (still are). This particular candy has gone away, but the idea hasn’t – go in any Whole Foods or such market and you’ll sent plenty of candy bars, sticks, and bites being marketed as “healthy” chocolate.

    Like free-range, green, organic, vitamin-and-soy-enriched chocolate that is endorsed by Oprah is, in the end, any better for my thighs than a Snickers. Ha.

  9. JohnAsimov says:

    I have an empty box of Ayds candy that was my grandmother’s (I’m afraid to chuck it as it’s so iconic). I don’t know why she held on to it. Maybe the same reason I’ve held on to R. Crumb’s Devil Girl candy box…maybe she thought she’d make a few bucks on Ebay someday. My gramma, so business savvy, and so before her time.

  10. l951b951 says:

    I’m probably doomed to hell for it, but I watched this commercial 3 times and literally laughed out loud each time at the last line, “Why take diet pills when you can ENJOY Ayds?”.

    I was born in ’81, so I don’t remember this ad, but I’ve heard about it and I’m glad to finally see it. I thought it was an SNL skit; what a misfortunate coincidence.

  11. Hell's Donut House says:

    When singer Klaus Nomi died as one of New York’s earliest AIDS casualties back in 1983, at least one confused news source listed his cause of death as “an overdose of Ayds diet candy.”

  12. Bay State Darren says:

    Article: What should the marketer do to avoid possible confusion?

    You change the fucking name! (They eventually did, five years after this article.)

    What I really hate is how they were worried only about brand image, sales, and similar corporate BS. How about, I don’t know, not offending those hurt by the AIDS epidemic? Oh wait, that’s not important to the bottom line.

  13. WitherWing says:

    Personally, I think she’d be embarrassed to go anywhere because of that suit.

  14. Trackback says:

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  15. Raiden47 says:

    Except for the fact that it had nothing relating to the candy, and they did not get the idea from it at all.