Wednesday, August 31

[It slices, it dices, and it entrances me for hours]

The news that Ron Popeil is selling Ronco came as a surprise to me, because if I were an inventor-slash-infomercial superstar, I would never, ever give it up to spend time with my grubby children. And that is because — I confess — I love infomercials. God, I love them so much. I'm not sure why, but I always have. I don't know what pulls me in faster: the hosts' unabashedly overdone acting, the completely useless crap they peddle, the creative ways they divide the cost up into easy monthly payments, or the heartfelt confessions from people who have the product at home and it has literally saved their lives.

I think I like infomercials because they don't try to transmit any real meaning. They're all about exploiting popular assumptions about health and safety just to make their product more appealing to a savvy consumer, but they don't preach or teach or otherwise try to convince me of anything other than how unbelievably better my life would be if I would just pick up the phone and order. I can watch with my brain completely turned off, and not risk missing anything important.

Over the years, I've marveled at contraptions that vacuum-sealed everything from pork chops to bed linens. I've watched Popeil himself carve meat with hundreds of different types of knives. I've lounged in pajamas as acne-treatment products sat calmly beneath soft-focus waterfalls. I've rubbed my chin in contemplation of the usefulness of a food processor that is so tiny you have to chop things up by hand before you can even use it.

When I was younger, my mom ordered a Dial-o-Matic food slicer from Ronco. The Dial-o-Matic is the contraption where you have a slicing platform along which you slide whatever it is you want to slice, back and forth, past a blade, which can be adjusted to make thick slices or thin slices or anything in between. It worked horribly. We rarely used it. But knowing that the product was shit didn't make the infomercial for it any less riveting. I mean, Ron Popeil made it look like so much fun to zip a potato up and down the Dial-o-Matic and make waffle fries.

My favorite infomercial of all time is for the Thunderstick Pro. Aside from having the best product name ever, this little machine blends, chops, mixes, and more (if there is more, though I doubt it). If you were ever inclined to do so, you could chop up coffee beans, make peanut butter out of peanuts, or whip skim milk into some frothy kind of whipped-cream concoction.

By far the coolest part of the infomercial is when the co-host lady makes mayonnaise by combining an egg and some canola oil in a beaker and whipping it up. It's so unbelievably disgusting. Then the camera cuts to the audience and some poor schlep gets on TV licking his chops at the mention of homemade mayonnaise.

Now that's good TV.

6 Comments:

Blogger Your friendly Maytag repairman said...

But wait!

THERE'S MORE!

Every time I see the rotisserie (sp?) and the Solid Flavor Injector I think I'll die if I don't have it right then.

Wed Aug 31, 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger theogeo said...

I forgot all about the Solid Flavor Injector. That has to be the most vile yet tempting invention of all time.

You can put whole cloves of garlic inside a pork roast!!!.

Wed Aug 31, 10:13:00 PM  
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