Products come and products go, but -- coming or going -- most of the consumer variety wind up on Productscan, a year-old database offered by Marketing Intelligence Inc., in Canandaigua, N.Y. At last count, Productscan had the lowdown on some 53,674 consumer products introduced since 1980, with about 1,000 new ones being added each month. The information is available by modem -- for $140 an hour.

If you want to see the products, however, you'd best visit the company's Learning Center. There you can view, say, 364 brands of popcorn, for $1,500. Or, for $500, you can visit one of the standing exhibits. One recent exhibit, for instance, featured more than 750 oral-hygiene products from around the world. "The big hit was the black toothpaste and powder from India, made from an eggplant base," says Marketing Intelligence founder Robert McMath. "That really gets people thinking."

Of course, not all the products are successful. McMath estimates that 4,000 of those in his collection were certified bombs. You've probably never heard of designer diapers, for example, not to mention baked cat food or parsnip chips. But our favorite failed product has always been the vitamin-enriched malt candy -- with the unfortunate name of Gorilla Balls.

-- Teri Lammers

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