Pfizer: Hai Karate to Viagra

Now on our Top 100 ListHai Karate Box for Cologne

If you want to see how much America has lost its innocence, one need only look at the Pfizer Company and its most advertised products.

In the 1960s, one of Pfizer’s best known advertised products was the cologne Hai Karate, made by Pfizer’s Leeming/Pacquin division. The ads featured a nerdy looking guy who had to fight off a woman with karate because of the incredible scent of Hai Karate. Read our post on Hai Karate, with a link to a old commercial. Very funny.

Looking back on it, it was all very innocent. Especially compared to today, when Pfizer’s best known product is Viagra.

Still famous today

Even though Hai Karate is no longer on the shelves, it still gets attention because of those ads and its cult status. It makes a cameo in The Incredibles, and is a running joke on the Bill Bennett Morning in America radio program. Simon Doonan associates it with the disco years in New York. Donny Deutsch this year talked about it on the Today Show.

Just last week, BrandlandUSA reader Gabriel Arregui asked us to put Hai Karate on our list of BrandlandUSA’s 100 Brands to Bring Back. We did. Thank you Gabriel! If we had a bottle, we would send you one.

Leeming/Pacquin History

Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company, bought the Leonard Leeming Company in 1961. Leeming made personal care items, and Pfizer turned the company into one of the largest health and beauty aid companies in the nation. The Leeming family was an old Brooklyn socialite name, and the Leeming name was preserved after the merger, though renamed.

The renamed Leeming/Pacquin, the division of Pfizer, was known for brands that included Barbasol, Ben Gay and Visine. The Pacquin brand survived until just recently. The hand cream has recently been discontinued by Johnson & Johnson, which bought the consumer products division of Pfizer in 2006. Today, there is an Internet based effort to bring Pacquin’s Hand Cream back.

Hai Karate $200 million product

At the height of its popularity, Hai Karate was selling over $200 million in product a year, including soap on a rope, shaving cream, talcum powder, cologne and after shave. The cologne came in four scents, including Regular, Oriental Lime, Oriental Spice and Iced Hai. It apparently returned in the 1990s for a time, according to press reports. The bottle said that it “originated on the island of Manhattan five years ago.”

If consumers ever wish to have Hai Karate again, there is some chance they might. Today, according to the records of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the trademark for Hai Karate Cologne is now owned by a company called Miner’s International in Surrey, England. The after shave trademark, however, is owned by Hanson Trading of Hong Kong. So we guess that means that if you wanted to give someone a boxed set of Hai Karate on a future Christmas holiday, that might be a bit difficult.

We checked some other cologne brands of the era. They include:

  • DaVinci by the Steven Lewis Co. of Hollywood (one of the scents was L.S.D.)
  • Cologne Pub
  • Aramis
  • Chant D’Aromes by Guerlain
  • Canoe by Dana
  • English Leather
  • 4711, The Refreshant Cologne
  • Villa d’Est, made by the MEM Company of New Jersey
  • Wolff Freres of New York

25 Comments

  1. My husband really loves Hia Karate and has been looking for your cologne to come back. I would really like to get a bottle if you could please tell me where. It would make him so happy.
    Thank you,
    Dorothy

  2. I wish that LEEMING DIVISION, PFIZER INC. NEW YORK, NY. , would bring back the fragrance “Skinny Dip” because it was fresh and clean with a citrus feel to it. I loved it and I would buy it again after all these years. I especially loved the version that was a foam spray. It was great!

  3. Please Please Please bring back Skinny dip the pink bottle, the smell was so very fresh and sweet along with beautiful that there will never be a more perfect fragrance by any manufacturer. You would surely prosper if you did. I loved it very much, the last bottle I had was in 1981 and I cherished it and used it sparingly as it was not available any longer. My daughter who was about 3 and 1/2 at the time opened it up and poured a lot out. I now have about a 1/4 of a bottle and its more alcohol than anything else. What can we do to persuade you to start production again!!!! I wish I had the spray and the cologne.

  4. I grew up with HAI- KARATE, my Dad used
    it a lot , infact I started my KARATE
    training that year 1966 because of HAI-KARATE, Today I am 50 yrs, and a Tenth
    Degree Black Belt in the OYO KAI KARATE
    system. PLEASE BRING BACK THE
    ORIGINAL HAI-KARATE PLEASE !!!!

  5. I have found some of the old Hai Karate bottles on ebay but do not open them. They have the original smell according to the seller but I don’t think I want to open the bottle and find out. I would rather leave it along and leave it preserved as a collectible. I used to use that when I was a younger man in the 1960’s along with English Leather. Used to love the old commercial of English leather with the lady on the horse. Those were the days.


  6. I love the original Hai Karate cologne and would like to see it sold again…I have a 4 oz bottle that I bought from Ebay years ago and it’s almost gone…please contact Miner’s International in Surrey, England to tell them that many people would love to be able to buy Hai Karate Cologne again today! If something sells so well and there is a market for it, why not sell it?

  7. I want to get a few cases of Hai Karate Cologne, put on a karate gee and go door to door selling this cologne. You see I’m out of a job and have been for the past 7mos. I’m getting pretty desrerate. Hai Ya! I think it would go over realy well. So send me some Hai Karate Cologne or After Shave. Lets put some chop on it so we can get all the Christmas shoppers wrapping up Hai Karate gift sets to put under the Holiday Tree.

  8. I have one full 4 oz. vintage bottle of Hai Karate in original box with its great warning booklet.

    I will sell it to the highest bidder via PayPal.

    Domestic shipping & insurance additional.

  9. When I was 10 in the early 70’s I remember putting a cologne on lay away for my dad that was advertized as foaming cologne. I was looking for something other than the brut and hai karate he already had collections of.
    I remember spraying the stuff on my hand and it foamed up then broke down right away so you could rub it on your face.
    Anybody remember a foaming cologne in 1972 – 1973?
    Mark

  10. In the late 60’s I recall a series of radio ads for Hai Karate where they taught you a series of “Japanese” phrases to memorize, presumably related to the cologne. I was a kid at the time but it took quite well as I can still remember them (spelled phonetically): Lesson #1: “Haut sai u tu”, Lesson #2: “Woooon toooon”, Lesson #3: “Weet now, ta, ta, ta”, Lesson #4: “Shhhhh” followed by a mouth noise that sounded like tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk. I bought some for my Dad for Christmas but I think he “accidentally” spilled it down the drain.

  11. I have a case of the orignal sent, and a case of the skinny dip. I opened a bottle the other day and it smells just as nice as it did in the day.I think the vermont country store will try to get it

  12. Doreen, would you consider selling a bottle? My Dad is 85 and wants nothing more than to have some Hai Karate. I found a bottle for him about 10 years ago in an old pharmacy but none since then. Please let me know if you would consider it. Thanks.

  13. I have been trying to find out did they remake hai karate? i would like to buy it but i cant find it. i read where some company was to remake it or purchase it to remake is it true?

  14. Doreen Ohara,
    How can I get some of the Skinny Dip Cologne? My girl friend, now wife of 32 years wore it. It would be a neat surprise for her.

  15. looking for scoundrel cologne for MEN marketed in 1960’s by sero co of new haven. will pay big bucks for authentic. this is NOT the scoundrel for women later marketed by revlon.
    thx

  16. Miner’s Internatonal in Surrey England MUST learn from all of us that there are some 50-60 “baby boomers” in the United States starting to retire. At least half are men that remember the various Hai Karate products that were available. Back in 1990 I was in a grocery store and saw 3 bottles on the shelf. I wish the hell I’d have purchased them! Ruffley Speaking

  17. Back in early 1960s, I was a young black belt just off the USAF Judo Team. I was teaching a martial arts self-defense class at a Atlanta Dojo, when three well dressed (suits) men and one very attractive woman (all were obvious professional business people), came in the dojo and asked permission to watch my class. They were making notes as they watched. Two hours later, they asked me if I would have coffee or a cocktail at a near by pub so they could talk to me. I was offered the opportunity to assist in introducing a new oriental type of cologne called; “Hai-Karate”. I was interested and went to work for them within days. The photos of the hands on the Hai-Karate packaging and bottle are mine! I made a couple of commericals for them at the Storer Studios Advertising Agency in Atlanta. I also did a number of martial arts demonstrations for them, and assisted in introducing their new product at a tremendously large department store buyers cenvention, where thousands of buyers were given a new sample bottle of the cologne and a new bleached white karate-gi (uniform). I was paid well and have the distinction of having my hands on a product that has become a legend.
    A highly popular radio talk show from New Orleans recently had me as thier on-air guest, where they recognized me as a major contributor to that legendary product.
    I retired after 53 years as a teacher of the martial arts, and the founder and president of Martial Arts USA. I am now 74 years of age, living in Inverness, Florida. More information on Professor John Chambers can be seen at: http://www.martialartsusa.com
    Hope this info brings back some memories to those who were regular users of this great product. I too would love to see this formula introduced again for retail sale.
    Sincerely
    John E. Chambers

  18. Count me in as one bloke who would revel in owning a bottle of Hai Karate… oh heck and tarnation, sign me up for a bottle of every scent in every format; cologne, after-shave, etc. and other goodies such as soap-on-a-rope, etc.

  19. Love these comments on Hai Karate. Back in the early 70’s I was in high school and my boyfriend at the time who is now my husband use to wear Hai Karate. I loved the scent. Wish it was still on the market. Bring back this scent for us old timers….Also bring back Aphrodisia by Faberge. Loved that scent also.

  20. This is the first I’ve heard of Hai Karate. I’m looking for Black Belt cologne, made by the Leeming Division of Chas. Pfizer & Co, Inc., NY, NY in 1968. I’m sitting here staring at my last bottle that has about 1/16th inch left in it. I guess I’ll have to try eBay, unless someone has any other ideas.

  21. Hi all. My first job out of college was with the Leeming Pacquin division of Pfizer. It was 1966. Yes hi Karatecwas hot. I remember delivering cases in my car. I made my quota by selling tons of gift sets. It was a fun job. We also introduced Hot Pants and Skinny dip as well as Black Belt Cologne. I sold Desitin ointment and Ben Gay too.

  22. Sure wish this product was still here with us any chance it would ever come back.

  23. Hi all, I just found out this weekend that my grandmother was in a Hai Karate commercial in the 1960’s. The only information I know is that she was dressed in oriental/Asian attire (she is not actually Asian) and the commercial aired during the moon landing. If anyone knows anything about this commercial, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks!

  24. I want 6 bottles 3 colon and 3 after shave my phone is 3132051016 thank you i need it very bad

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