That thing in the shorts, formerly called a chamois because it was, is not a pad. It never was.
Padded seats kill my ass. Padded shorts REALLY kill my ass.
Synthetic chamois was a great leap forward. It was more washable, dried faster and did not dry to sandpaper the way a natural chamois did after a few washings. But then inexperienced riders started asking for more cush under the tush, thinking that was the key to saddle comfort. With the triathlon boom of the 1980s and the mountain bike boom of the 1990s, the bike industry picked up a huge influx of inexperienced cyclists. There was a lot more money in selling them what they thought they wanted than in teaching them what actually works.
Occasional and short-distance riders can get away with anything between buns and bike seat. If they haven't found the width and shape of saddle that really suits their anatomy fo rthe long haul, padding on seat and pants will guard against the feeling that they had been kicked solidly with a large boot in a tender place. But now the market is flooded with shorts that look like they have half a pound cake sewn into the crotch.
The chamois protects against chafe. The shorts are supposed to have no seam or flat seams in the problem area, unlike most normal street pants, which have a four-way seam junction under there. In the 1970s, cutoff shorts, with their lump of denim digging into that precious anatomy, did more to sell real cycling shorts than any marketing campaign. And in the 1970s people were more than ready to forego their skivvies, as proper bike short use requires. It was the '70s, man.
I'm nursing my last two pairs of shorts that don't make me feel like I've got a mattress shoved in my crotch. I need to do some product research, fast.