And Now, NeverWet

California CPA/ Getty Images

The shifting fortunes of a next-new-thing.

NeverWet, the super-hydrophobic spray coating that promises to make items miraculously liquid repellent, hit the market this past June, and viewers who’d seen the online video showing NeverWet—coated iPhones and T-shirts withstanding red-wine vinegar and gravy could finally test the spray themselves. We track the hot/cold/lukewarm reactions to the product, illustrating how quickly an item in the culture can evolve from greatest thing ever to colossal disappointment before finally settling as largely forgettable. $20;

Pre-Awareness: posts a YouTube video that becomes a small viral hit, showing NeverWet—coated shoes repelling liquids such as water and chocolate syrup.

Buzz: A longer version of the video becomes an Internet sensation, is featured on, CNET and and has accumulated more than seven million views to date.

Hype: Buzzfeed, the Internet’s repository of videos and lists, creates its own NeverWet video titled “Proof That Science Is Sorcery.”

Full-Blown: NeverWet hits retail stores, selling for $20.

Overblown: Matt Lauer tests the product on the Today show, saying NeverWet made his pants a “little sticky,” and “they don’t smell so great.”

Backlash: Reviews hit the Internet, calling the product chalky, filmy and single-use only. A sample from “Not ready for prime time.”

Backlash to the Backlash: Gizmodo, the go-to blog for gadget news, posts a review: “It works! Sure, its protective barrier starts crumbling in under ten minutes, but that’s a vast improvement over our original expectation of approximately zero minutes.”