"Work Hard. Fly Right" was the motto of Continental Airlines. But when Continental Flight 1267 landed in Cleveland Saturday after departing from Phoenix, the crew thanked the passengers for flying the friendly skies with United Airlines. Continental vanished, per the companies' 2010 merger agreement.
Even the most iconic brand can plunge into extinction, and when it does, it can be years before the buying public realizes that it's gone. Many people are still not aware that they can no longer fill it to the rim with Brim, or that the streets are no longer paved with bargains at Circuit City. And don’t even think about saying that Chewels offers sugarless fun, unless you’re looking to solicit confused stares from your pre-teen.
Read on to see some iconic brands that have disappeared since their glory days.
Pan American World Airways
Pan American World Airways, or Pan Am as it was more commonly known, was founded in 1927. It was originally intended to carry mail between the U.S. and Cuba, but it expanded its international operations and updated its fleet with the newest and most sophisticated planes. This positioned it to take advantage of the tourism boom after World War II, and eventually Pan Am became the dominant international carrier.
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Pan Am peaked during the 1960s and1970s, and its blue globe logo became an iconic symbol of its superiority. However, the 1988 terrorist bombing of Flight 103 and the jump in fuel prices caused by the Gulf War was a financial double-whammy from which the airline couldn’t recover. It filed for bankruptcy in 1991. In 2011 the airline became the subject of a television series, “Pan Am,” which depicted the lives of its pilots and stewardesses during its heyday.
General Motors’ Hummer was an SUV based on the design of the military vehicle known as the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or “Humvee.” During the early 2000s, the Hummer was a popular vehicle, as well as a frequent target of criticism.
People in smaller vehicles that shared the road with the metallic behemoths felt menaced by their enormous size, a fear that was justified when a study from the Quality Planning statistical information firm in San Francisco showed that Hummer drivers got five times as many tickets as drivers of other kinds of cars. When asked why this was, Quality Planning President Raj Bhat said that “perhaps Hummer drivers, by virtue of their driving position, are less likely to notice road hazards, signs, pedestrians and other drivers.”
Ultimately what did the Hummer in was the recession. In 2008, the commercial viability of such a masterpiece of conspicuous consumption was in doubt, particularly one that got famously substandard gas mileage. GM tried to sell the brand, but there were no takers, and in 2010 it was discontinued.
The Chipwich was a favorite treat of summertime snackers. It was an ice cream sandwich that junked the rectangular chocolate layers on the outside in favor of two chocolate chip cookies, and it was sold on the streets of New York by pushcart vendors during its 1981 debut. It was as an inexpensive marketing strategy, and it worked: The Chipwich quickly became a popular item.
CoolBrands bought Chipwich in 2002 and then sold it to Dreyer’s in 2007. This turned out to be the death knell for the ice cream treat. Dreyer’s is a subsidiary of Nestle, which sold its own similar treat, the Nestle Ice Cream Toll House Cookie Sandwich. Not wanting to compete with its own product, Nestle discontinued the Chipwich.
E.F. Hutton & Co.
E. F. Hutton & Co. was one of the largest and most respected brokerage firms in the U.S., but what most people remember about it was its popular television commercials from the 1970s, in which someone would disclose that his broker was E.F. Hutton. Upon this disclosure, the formerly loud restaurant or party would come to an abrupt silence. An off-screen voice would then say: "When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen."
E.F. Hutton merged with Shearson Lehman/American Express in 1988, resulting in a firm called Shearson Lehman Hutton. After a series of other mergers, it became part of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. So while E.F. Hutton still technically exists, its days as an iconic brand are long gone.
The Oldsmobile was a true American icon. The brand was founded in 1897 and its history spanned over 100 years. Thirty-five million units were sold before the car was discontinued.
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Oldsmobile reported a shortfall in its sales during the 1990s, which led General Motors to announce in 2000 that the brand would be phased out. The final Oldsmobile, an Alero, rolled off the assembly line on April 29, 2004. The company then closed its doors, taking all of the Auroras, Cutlasses, Silhouettes and 88s with it.
Click here to see the full list of Iconic Brands That Disappeared.
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