What's the best-selling condom in America?

How popular culture gets popular.
Sept. 29 2006 12:32 PM

The Other Trojan War

What's the best-selling condom in America?

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Being part of a conglomerate has helped Trojan compete, since today's sales are strongly influenced by direct-to-consumer ads and placement in chain drugstores. Church & Dwight has stressed innovation, too, in order to take advantage of the increasing demand for condoms meant to enhance intercourse, rather than merely prevent disease and pregnancy. One of the brand's most successful launches in recent years, for example, has been Trojan Mint Tingle. The pleasure-oriented Trojan Vibrating Ring, meanwhile, is the newest addition to the brand's lineup, although killjoy laws in Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, and five other states prohibit its sale within their respective borders.

Yet Trojans remain America's favorite condoms first and foremost because of Merle Youngs' genius. Reliability, rather than enhanced pleasure, will always be the attribute consumers most desire in their chosen prophylactic. English majors who've done a close reading of the Homer may deem the brand's name incongruous, but they're far outnumbered by consumers for whom Trojan is to condoms as Kleenex is to tissues. * And when your brand has become synonymous with its product category, it's likely to stay that way for a long, long time.

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Correction, Oct. 2, 2006: This piece originally suggested that the Trojan horse episode is described in Homer's Iliad. The incident is detailed in the Odyssey. Return to the corrected sentence.

Brendan I. Koerner is a contributing editor at Wired and a columnist for Gizmodo. His first book, Now the Hell Will Start, is out now.