What ever happened to the spray-on condom?

Developed in the mid-aughts, it promised to revolutionize safer sex. (Spoiler: It did not.)

Colorful fruit pattern of fresh yellow bananas on pink background. From top view

In an April Fool’s Day stunt last year, Durex India introduced its social media followers to “the world’s first spray-on condom,” a product that “molds to the shape of your penis upon contact.”

Even if Durex’s product had been real, it wouldn’t have been the world’s first spray-on condom. In fact, that technology was invented in 2006 by German entrepreneur Jan Vinzenz Krause, who viewed it as a serious endeavor. He claimed to have two investors, and in 2008 the product graced the pages of the New York Times Magazine’s “Year in Ideas” issue. It even got a shoutout on CSI: NY.

The aha moment — Krause, who happens to be the Guinness World Record holder for “tallest pyramid of cookies,” came up with the spray-on condom idea in a car wash, a decidedly unsexy place to ponder penetration. But when he saw cleaning equipment come at his car from all sides, he couldn’t help but imagine liquid latex surrounding the penis in a similar way.

He began self-experimentation with materials from the hardware store and soon he had a prototype. As seen in diagrams from the product’s webpage, a penis could be inserted into a spray can. At the push of a button, liquid latex would smother the penis in what Krause called a “360 degree procedure.”

The perfect fit — Krause insisted that spray-on condoms’ biggest advantage is that they’re tailored to every penis — even those that are small or unusually shaped. (He told Time magazine that his passion for condom innovation stemmed from his teenage struggle to find the perfect fit.)

In the FAQ section of the product’s webpage, Krause compares himself to 16th-century philosopher Giordano Bruno, who was executed for claiming the earth revolves around the sun, and Thomas Stephenson, the inventor of the locomotive. Like his heroes from history, Krause was ready to disrupt the status quo in the name of perfect penis fit.

The pros and cons— Though the product seemed to work (30 testers gave it positive reviews), it had a few major problems. The most striking issue was how much time it needed to dry: a whopping, vibe-killing two minutes. Furthermore, it made a loud, boner-killing hiss sound when applied. And even though Krause tried out the product in his personal life, the other product testers didn’t use it during intercourse.

In 2008, Krause expressed concern that the European Union’s strict product standards would “make it difficult to bring to market,” and he stopped pursuing the item’s development.

Other condom endeavors — The spray-on didn’t make it to shelves, but Krause is still a force to be reckoned with when it comes to sex products. Unfortunately, he did not reply to my interview requests, but there’s plenty of information about him to be found online. He heads Vinergy, a company devoted to “excellence in condoms” whose products include the Mister Size brand and a variety of sex toys.

Krause’s Institute of Condom Consultancy conducted an international penis size survey and uses the data to give online condom-size advice. And according to its website, the group has promoted safer sex with a “Pimp Your Condom” event in which participants accessorized their condom Mr. Potato Head–style.

The memory remains — The spray-on may have been a bust, but its memory lives on in the Museum of Failure. Regardless of the method of application, remember to do what Jan Vinzenz Krauser would want: avoid infection by putting protection on your erection.