In honor of April Fools, I give you a dozen consumer products (and one nuclear battleship) that should not have exploded but unfortunately did. Or, in the case of the ship, could. These are all true. (Except for the last one.) As usual, the joke is on the hapless consumer.
1. Electrolux Vacuum Cleaner – If cleanliness is next to godliness, is your vacuum cleaner on a jihad? The 2-in-1 Ergorapido cordless stick vacuums (made in China) are currently being voluntarily recalled after reports of batteries expanding and bursting. Per the recall notice, “There have been two reports of minor injuries, including swollen hands and irritation to the eyes from contact with battery powder.”
2. iPod Nano, Bursts into Flames Inside Man's Pants – An airport kiosk attendant claimed that his iPod Nano exploded in his pants. He looked down and saw flames emanating from his trousers. The lithium ion battery was to blame. That type of battery has caused laptops to explode as well. As one consumer posted on Apple's web forum, “Once your butt has been exploded by an iPod, it must be hard to ever trust again.”
3. Russian Nuclear Ship – In terms of items you don't want to explode, nuclear ships are probably up there. A while back, the head of the Russian navy recalled its nuclear-powered ship “Peter the Great.” Per the Daily Mail, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov said: “The ship is in such a condition that it may blow up any minute… It is especially dangerous since the vessel is equipped with a nuclear reactor.”
4. Toy Aromatherapy Spa Kits – Half a million $30 toy aromatherapy kits used to make Bath Bombs, Bath Balls and Bath Fizzies, sold at Sam's Club, Walmart, and Target were recalled. Explosions resulted in 13 injuries. The injuries to children included irritated eyes, eye injuries from flying caps, a cheek welt, a cheek cut, and deep-seated fears of fancy-smelling air fresheners. Injuries to adults included bruising, one swollen joint, and one face gash.
5. Tiny Packets of French Couscous – The innocent looking packages of “Couscous Royal” rolled semolina wheat exploded like small bombs. Per the manufacturer, “We would prefer to recall the product to avoid explosions in people's kitchens. They could go off like a small bomb, wounding consumers or causing damage to kitchens. Three months after they were made, a bomb like effect was observed in stores, and we have also have complaints from consumers. We would warn anyone who has one of these couscous dishes at home to return it to the store where it was originally bought immediately.”
6. Cans of Castleberry Chili with Beans Infected with Botulism — The cans, swollen with bacteria, exploded. This is bad because bacteria gets into the air, and people inhale it. Botulism is a less-than-delicious muscle-paralyzing disease. Symptoms include general weakness, dizziness, double-vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing.
7. Everyday Living Bleach – These guys explode when opened. Per the supermarkets that sold the bleach, the recall “includes 96 oz. bottles of the regular, citrus and mountain blend bleaches as well as 128 oz. bottles of the regular bleach. If you purchased the product, you should put the bleach in a garbage bag, and place it in a second bag if the container looks bulged….Arrangements will be made for the manufacturer to come and pick up the bagged bleach.”
8. Scuba Tank – The victim, originally thought to have lost two fingers, actually lost most of his hand in the blast. The tank was a defective aluminum Walter Kidde scuba tank made from an inferior alloy. Walter Kidde is a manufacturer of fire extinguishers and low pressure gas cylinders. No recall was made.
9. Chicken Fryer Pans – The Innova brand pans explode when preheated, used on high heat, or used for frying. Hot oil and food contents spilled onto consumers. Innova got 16 reports of these frying pans exploding.
10. Rolls Royce Autos – Pricier is not necessarily better. The 2000 and 2001 Corniche, Bentley Azure and Continentals were recalled. A Corniche convertible exploded after a Michigan dealer technician filled it with gas for the first time, drove it away, and hit a switch to roll up the windows. Electric current from the power windows ignited fuel vapors inside the car. The cars sell for $360,000 and are hand-made.
11. Ford Pinto 1971 – a.k.a. “The barbecue that seats four.” This is a classic, and my favorite item that should not have exploded but did. Its fuel tanks famously explode in the event of a rear-end collision (we're talking 28 mph). Ford was aware of the design flaw but decided not to pay to redesign the car. Instead, they opted to wait and pay off the lawsuits from resulting deaths. The cost-benefit analysis was detailed in the famous Ford Pinto Memo of 1968. It would cost $121 million to make the fuel tank modifications. But, leaving the Pinto as-is, estimating the cost of settling lawsuits at $49.5 million, made for a less expensive (though more evil) solution.
12. Garden Hose Carts – You're out relaxing, gardening, watering your ferns or whatever, and then your Rapid Reel hose cart tires explode when you inflate them. Don't you hate that? Some 7,000 of them were recalled last year.
13. Hollowpoint Bullets That Fail to Shred Flesh. These don't so much explode, as fail to explode. Also, if you couldn't guess, this last one is a hoax. As the “manufacturer” says: “Give us another chance. We'll give you the lung-shreddingest bullets on the market.”
For more info on recalls, or just to increase your paranoia, visit the FDA's recall site.