During a recent venture to my local grocery store, the wholesome kind with an elderly owner stocking fresh tofu at all hours, I was wandering the pharmacy aisle when something caught my eye: condoms. Specifically, the types of condoms: of the five options on display, only two were regular Trojans. The other three? All Magnums.
You may have noticed that Magnum condoms, Trojan’s plus-size product, are taking over the shelves. My friend, photographer Azikiwe Mohammed, certainly did: during a cross-country road trip, he began documenting every liquor and convenience store that stocked the jumbo latex – and found that nearly every one of them did.
The sales numbers support his discovery: Between 2001 and 2010, Magnum sales grew by over 14%. By the start of the current decade, what would appear to be a niche product made up 18.8% of overall condom sales in the U.S. (not including Wal-Mart) — and that was before any official advertising began.
All this Magnum love poses the question: When did the exceptional become the norm?
Part of the answer lies in marketing. Trojan, which controls 72% of all condom sales in the U.S., has spent the last decade steadily embedding Magnums in the collective-conscience. They had serendipitous help from rappers like Remy Ma, Young Jeezy, Mack 10 and Busta Rhymes, all of whom referenced the brand by name without any prompting from Trojan (proving that a product that instantly reveals the size of your, er, package really does sell itself).
In 2010, “Live Large,” the division’s first marketing initiative, was born. With Ludacris endorsing a talent search that challenged contestants to “Live up to the Gold Standard,” invoking the Magnum name went from bragging-right to coveted product placement. Trojan’s Head of Marketing, Jim Daniels, stated that “people are proud to show they have a Magnum condom — the large size really connotes a sense of ‘above-average prowess,’ let’s call it.”
An equally large, and lesser-known, reason for the Magnum takeover is the simple fact that Magnums aren’t that much bigger than regular Trojans. Measuring in at 8.07 inches long with a width of 2.13 inches (the XL is 2.48 inches wide at the head — yes, there is an XL), Magnums have a little over a half-inch in length on their cousin, Trojan ENZ, which is 7.5” inches long and 2.0 inches wide. Sure, a half-inch may sound like a lot to a man standing next to a ruler, but in practice, it’s small. In fact, hold a Magnum up next to a regular old ENZ, and you may be, er, hard-pressed to tell the difference.
Given the heavy social pressure to be well-endowed, not to mention the status and ego-boost that come with it, what man wouldn’t want to sport a condom that announces to the world that he’s bigger than the rest? Even if the condom itself really isn’t that big?
Some men admit to jumping on the Magnum train because the larger size is actually more comfortable (or at least, that’s the reason they’ll admit to). One now-faithful Magnum user tried them and then never looked back: “Other than my first time, I’ve always used Magnums. Everything else fits, just too tight and not all the way down. Back in the day, I had to make a point of finding them. Now they’re everywhere.”
Another brand convert said it took his girlfriend’s frustration with his nonstop complaints to get him to switch. “I didn’t think I was THAT big, but the [Magnums] fit really nicely. It’s not like I have a 9-inch porn dick…so I’d always just figured I was average.” (Ed. note: You very well may have figured right. See the above photo.)
Plenty of men I spoke to seemed to lack the belief that it was POSSIBLE for condoms to fit comfortably. Those who’d used Magnums felt the larger size at least helped with that problem — even if your length wasn’t a full 8.07 inches.
While most women didn’t report much of a difference in sensation, they all noted far less complaining from their partners once Magnums entered the picture. One woman said she was relieved once she and her boyfriend started using them, since he no longer lamented that wearing a condom left him feeling like he was “wearing a paper bag…a very tight, uncomfortable paper bag.”
Magnums aren’t the only “big boys” on the block. LifeStyles has their KYNG imprint (measuring 7.48 inches, they’re actually slightly smaller than a regular Trojan ENZ) and Durex XXL, the largest available in the U.S. market (measuring an actually-large 9.5 inches). Durex is working hard to overtake Trojan’s dominance, luring Ice-T and Coco as spokespersons and launching social-media campaigns in attempts to take their European domination across the pond.
So with all these alleged mega-condoms flooding the market, the question remains: should you actually try one? Going too big raises the likelihood of slippage, and there are few things more terrifying than playing a game of “where’s the rubber?” If you’re purchasing for vanity’s sake, keep these factors in mind – the thrill of the “initial reveal” (in other words, that thrill you may get when you pull out a Magnum and show it to a new partner) will wane pretty fast if it’s too big. Granted, if you do have the girth, length, or a blessed combination of both, make sure to package yourself properly – a too-small condom can result in broken latex and spillage.
Above all, keep in mind that 50% of men are between 5.1 and 6 inches long, so you’re in good company if you feel like Magnums aren’t for you. And ladies, be sure to keep your bedside table stocked with a few options. Though you may want to keep the Magnums hidden in the back of the drawer, or you could wind up facing a question like: “So, your ex…THAT big, huh?” And then you’d have to explain that no, really, he wasn’t.