Hai Karate

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Hai Karate was a budget aftershave sold in the United States and the United Kingdom from the 1960s through the 1980s. It was reintroduced in late 2014 by catalog and e-commerce retailer Vermont Country Store.[1]


The fragrance was developed by the Leeming division of Pfizer and launched in 1967. As well as the original Hai Karate fragrance, versions named Oriental Lime and Oriental Spice were soon introduced. It competed successfully with such other brands as Aqua Velva, Old Spice, Jaguar, English Leather, British Sterling, Dante and Brut before fading away in the 1980s.


Hai Karate is best remembered today for its marketing plan, with a small self-defence instruction booklet sold with each bottle to help wearers fend off women and its television adverts. In the UK spots, a stereotypical nerd covers himself in Hai Karate and is promptly seduced by a female passer-by played by British starlet Valerie Leon; similar ads ran in the US as well. All of the spots contained the catch phrase "Be careful how you use it".

In popular culture[edit]

  • It was used by the Sussex Thunder British American football team as part of their pre-game "musking up" superstition before the 2012 Britbowl. It was purchased via eBay.
  • Samuel L. Jackson's character Frozone in the The Incredibles splashes on Hai Karate. [1]
  • William Bennett's morning political talk show Morning in America featured several segments where Seth, one of Bennett's assistants on the show, went in search of a bottle of the scent. Bennett gave Seth a bottle for Christmas of 2006 after finding it in a relative's old things. The bottle is considered part of the studio's shared collection and is occasionally referred to in great reverence.
  • In "A Night to Remember" episode 318 of Dharma & Greg, Dharma's dad uses a vial of Hai Karate to help jog his memory.
  • In the stoner movie Puff, Puff, Pass starring Danny Masterson and Ronnie Warner, Masterson's character questions Warner about his aftershave, asking if it was Hai Karate. He then asks where Warner found Hai Karate, getting the response "Ebay".
  • In Dean Koontz novel, From the Corner of His Eye, the killer, Junior Cain, splashes a little Hai Karate behind each ear before attempting to seduce a nurse he met in the hospital. (Page 211.)
  • Ray Carling also says he's "a black belt in Hai Karate" in the Ashes to Ashes 2010 Sports Relief special. Hai Karate is referenced by Ray Carling once again in the fourth episode of the final series of Ashes to Ashes when he comments to Chris Skelton that he should "go easy on that Hai Karate". Skelton responds by telling Carling "it's just a dab and a dash".


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