Monday, October 24, 2011

Condom Review Part 2:
We Tried Fire & Ice So You Don't Have To


Trojan is the Captain College of condoms. The hometown hero. The old standby. The one you probably carried around in your wallet in high school and used when you lost your virginity.

Those of us who came of age in the '90s remember Trojan Man, the straightforward radio commercial character who showed up at just the right moment with the condom some horny young people needed to get laid.

But sometime in the last 15 years or so, after the brand was acquired by Church & Dwight, makers of Arm & Hammer baking soda, they started experimenting with novelty. Where once there was only Enz, Ribbed for Her Pleasure and the deceptively named "Thin," suddenly it was hard to keep track of the multitude of boxes on the drugstore shelves carrying the iconic helmet logo.

The new approach worked--Trojan always dominated the US condom market but eventually Magnum, a mere subbrand, itself had 15% of all domestic sales. But there were some missteps along the way. After market research revealed that women buy half of all condoms and wanted to find them somewhere else besides the "family planning" section, the company introduced Elexa, a female-oriented line of condoms and other accouterments that featured glamorous looking ladies on the boxes and were found with the "feminine hygiene" products. Despite customer loyalty from those who did find them, Elexa was a flop. Turns out, customers were really confused by condoms in the tampon section.

In the last few years Trojan has reinvented the condom yet again with the Ecstasy, which introduced the first non-reservoir tip condom and an "UltraSmooth" lubricant. The prices went up, too. The boxes now contain 10 condoms instead of the usual 12, and they cost $10. But how do the new products stack up?

Tested: BareSkin and Ecstasy with Fire & Ice

Ecstasy Fire & Ice

Fire & Ice first came out a few years ago and it has received solidly mixed reviews. Some people make the connection that the lubricant is basically Icy Hot and that sensation sends some people's genitals into a total panic. Others enjoy the feeling. Trojan describes the new Ecstasy shape as: "Revolutionary design lets you and your partner feel the pleasure, not the condom." In theory, a condom that isn't tight around the penis makes sex feel more "natural." Ecstasy condoms also feature ribs at the base designed to stimulate the sensitive outer bit of the vagina.

She says: The Fire & Ice wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be. I confess I went into our first trial fully expecting an "OMG BURNING!" reaction, and what I got was...pleasant. I don't think the lube was pleasurable per se but I could definitely feel an acute "icy hot" sensation. That was cool, especially after drinking when you lose some of that focused feeling. The condom was baggy though and the ribs were too far down the base because I didn't notice them. Definitely didn't need extra lube, but my hands felt greasy and smelled like menthol afterwards.

He says: Much like the name, my feelings are hot and cold about this product. I wasn't pleased with the poncho-like fit of the condom and the smell was a little stronger than I would have liked. It's really well lubricated, and perhaps a bit too much. The hot and cold sensations alternate and are at times indiscernible, but for some reason every time I came I felt only cold. It's worth a try if you're looking to switch it up, but probably not a go-to condom.

Overall rating: 3/5

BareSkin

BareSkin is giving Crown a run for its money. Made in Japan, BareSkin is significantly thinner than any other Trojan condom and is actually thinner than Crown, making it the thinnest condom available. Made from a "low odor latex" this condom is meant to be the least condom-like of all.

She says: I like this condom. It is really thin, though it doesn't feel as thin as Crown. It definitely smells more latex-y than Crown, but less so than the Ecstasy. Didn't need extra lube at all. I love the color of the package, which is the same subtly metallic aqua of the Dallas Cowboys' spandex pants. Considering that these are easier to get than Crown, they might become a standby. Memo to Trojan: make BareSkin Fire & Ice!

He says: The biggest appeal to this condom is how thin it is--the bareskin almost makes it feel like a bare-back sexual experience. The result is the sensitivity is better than any other Trojan I've tried. The lubricant is sufficient, but not overwhelming which lessens the strength of the latex-like smell. The only drawback is that it was too tight at the base.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

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