We never thought there was anything to like about infomercials–those endless, repetitive cycles of thin promises, fast-talking pitchmen, and flimsy products. As we've gotten older though, we've softened our stance and come to appreciate the form, particularly when kitchen gadgets are involved. The infomercial sits winking at the intersection of a grotesque consumer culture and comedy. While espousing the practical applications of whatever is being hawked, it actually celebrates nonsense: the wackier a product and the more breathless the pitch, the more the audience cheers and gasps, allowing disbelief to shoot straight through the ceiling like a rocket. Embrace the absurdity with five of our favorite infomercials for kitchen gadgets guaranteed to collect dust in the cabinet.
5. Eggies: If the Humpty Dumpty tragedy has taught us anything, the egg is best left undisturbed. Maybe it's the whole fertility and birth thing, but we're disturbed at the gory sight of abused yolks and splintered shells. If you're sensitive, avert your eyes at the beginning of this ad. And maybe again when the lady takes a massive wide-eyed bite of that perfect Eggies' assisted deviled egg.
4. Flavorwave Oven: We don't know what's worse: that platter of ancient frozen meats or the way the hostess speaks to Mr. T as if he is a child. We also sneer at the absurd suggestion that chicken parts and sticks of potato may be “fried” to a lip-smacking sheen without the assistance of grease or oil.
3. Big Top Cookie: Likewise, we resist the thesis statement that normal-sized cookies are inherently “lame.” The molds might come in handy for making edible Frisbees, wide-brimmed hats, and wagon wheels, but we'll take a thousand lemon bars over one of these bloated, icing-engorged monsters any day.
2. Big City Slider Station: Billy Mays is in top form here, pushing a burger press designed to replicate the tidy patties one finds at White Castle. There's a lot to laugh at–particularly the idiotic but thankfully brief maracas-and-salsa sequence that accompanies one “zesty” serving suggestion–but the highlight has to be the notion that the Big City Slider Station will keep one away from expensive restaurants. Yes, cancel that reservation at Comme Ça, the patty press just arrived in the mail.
1. Slap Chop: While his 1999 debut film The Underground Comedy Movie (The New York Times called it “a series of sketches built around subjects like masturbation, defecation, alienation, urination, necrophilia, voyeurism, casual brutality, and mockery of the unfortunate”) failed to impress critics, actor/writer Vince Offer's pitchman skills are undeniable. He may not possess Mays's gruff sincerity or dad-like countenance, but he makes up for it with slick one-liners. Everyone chuckles at the “you're going to love my nuts” bit, but we have to go with the following flake of wisdom: “Stop having a boring tuna; stop having a boring life.” All doing so requires, apparently, are a few radishes and carrots, well-chopped.