NEWS:   Despite a number of articles about “Friends Forever Tampons” (a conjoined feminine hygiene product), they almost certainly don’t exist.

On 18 August 2015, New York Magazine‘s “The Cut” published an article titled “Finally, a Tampon for You and Your Best Friend” profiling a purportedly new innovation in menstrual products that involved two tampons attached by a single string.

The relatively brief text of the article introduced Friends Forever Tampons and their creator:

Forget brokenhearted best-friend necklaces and cosmos at happy hour. There’s a new blood pact in town and it’s called Friends Forever Tampons. Commemorate your sisterhood with this simple, easy-to-use product: two tampons joined by one string, just as the goddess of friendship would have wanted it. (And should your best friend lack a vagina, we’re sure you can get creative.) We asked creator Kat Thek to tell us more about this modern-day upgrade to the friendship bracelet.

Notably, the only links provided to substantiate the existence of Friends Forever Tampons involved a hastily created Tumblr blog (not a dedicated website) and the Tumblr-based web site of a woman named Kat Thek. Thek’s Twitter made no mention of the two tampons, one string innovation until the press began writing about it, but throughout June she tweeted about mysterious “cat hair pills” purportedly turning up for sale in Brooklyn and Manhattan:

Nevertheless, multiple outlets followed NYMag‘s lead despite all signs pointing to some sort of art project or intentional media hoax. Jezebel published an article on 18 August 2015 titled “Seal Your Girl Bond And Your Vagina With Friends Forever Tampons,” and the UK’s The Independent reported that unusual hygiene products were available at pop-up boutiques in a 19 August 2015 article titled “You can now share your tampon with your best friend.”

We could find no press coverage of Friends Forever Tampons that even mentioned the possibility the product didn’t exist, nor did anyone point out that proof of even a working concept was entirely absent. The Tumblr site listed Tiffany & Co., Barney’s, and Chanel as locations where the purported pop-up boutique was previously hosted in early August 2015, and no coverage observed that the unusual sight of a pop-up tampon store went virtually unnoticed at some of New York City’s swankiest retail destinations.

Friends Forever Tampons are (of course) not available online for purchase, nor have any images of the items in the wild at these pop-up boutiques emerged on social media sites. The packaging appeared decidedly handmade (not mass produced) and most tellingly, the tampons neither included an applicator nor resembled applicator-free tampons. Even if a customer base existed for the (fake) product, the obvious question of how it would work logistically was never addressed.

While it’s true Friends Forever Tampons were ostensibly taken as real by multiple media sources, all available information suggests that the product doesn’t exist (and that a few outlets were taken for a ride by their purported creator).