Film and TV

The 10 Most Memorable Food Infomericals

There is something mysteriously hypnotic about late-night (or, worse, mid-day) infomercials. I don't know if it's the manically insane way most of the infomercial presenters behave, or the momentary belief that maybe -- just maybe! -- these pioneers may have really found something that makes chopping onions a little less miserable."

That's not to say that there aren't some food-related infomercial products that haven't turned out to be pretty useful: I hear good things about the Perfect Brownie pan, and my mother swears by those Debbie Meyer Green Bags (which have actually been proven to be fairly effective).

But the vast majority of infomercials -- both for kitchen items and otherwise -- are pitching a product that is either extravagantly pointless or hopelessly ineffective. And, for some reason, almost all infomercials feature human beings that are far too clumsy or stupid to have possibly made it to adulthood without perishing in a Darwin award-worthy manner.

Yet none of the most bizarre food infomercials made it into the compilation of the Top 10 Worst Infomercials video that's been floating around on YouTube. To remedy that, here are the 10 most memorable food-related infomercials in recent memory.

10. Donut Express

"Everyone loves donuts!" Yes, they do. Except that no one enjoys all the mess and cleanup that comes with making them at home. That's why Shipley's exists. This is the Christmas gift you're going to get for your mother, who will immediately drum up a fake smile (she's used to you disappointing her) before doing one of two things: (1) resenting you for the next year or so for buying her a gift that forces her to do work she wouldn't otherwise have done, or (2) hiding it in the attic and praying that you don't remember giving it to her so she can get rid of it at the next garage sale. Sorry.

9. NuWave Oven Pro

The NuWave people want me to believe that they baked a pie and a ham in the same oven at once. No, good sirs. No.

8. Ronco Rotisserie

I'm not sure if the Ronco folks were the first to come up with the now-patented you'll-never-guess-how-much-this-thing-doesn't-cost sales pitch, but they were champs at it regardless.

7. The Magic Bullet

There's nothing the Magic Bullet can't do. It can even make up words for your everyday caffeinated beverages, like grinding coffee beans "extra-fine for expresso."

6. Miracle Blade Knives

You have two choices in life when it comes to using knives in the kitchen: (1) You can flail about like a beached dolphin who's been handed a confusingly shiny and pointy object, attempting and repeatedly failing to carve a turkey with this baffling tool, or (2) you can slice through foods in mid-air like a chef-ninja, wowing friends and family alike with your weapon's precision and speed. Because those are exactly the two ends of the spectrum that all knife users fall into. Nowhere in between.

5. Ronco Autocup

It's a sippy-cup for adults. ...yep.

4. Pasta Express

If you didn't think there were people dumb enough to fuck up a pot of spaghetti and boiling water, Pasta Express is here to remind you that -- yes -- plenty of people out there are currently considered legally stupid enough to be encased in cement and used as speed humps: the people who buy and use the Pasta Express.

3. The Deion Sanders Hot Dog Express

Oh, wait. There's more. Deion Sanders is here to save Americans from the pain and humiliation of...not being able to cook a hot dog?!

2. Slap Chop

When I heard the news that Vince Shlomi, the Slap Chop (and Sham Wow) hawker, had been arrested for "battering a hooker" in a Miami hotel room, I was nonplussed. I mean, listen to this guy's bizarre sales pitch: "Stop having a boring tuna; stop having a boring life." He couldn't possibly be more patronizing and condescending if he tried. This is the kind of guy who beats a woman for mouthing off to him, and this is the kind of guy who would also lie to you -- even if there weren't money involved -- about the efficiency of his slapping/chopping thingamabob. Golden.

1. Mr. T's Flavorwave Oven

This is not a Saturday Night Live skit. Mr. T is really hawking a countertop oven. And he just entered the set by bursting through a wall, Mr. Kool-Aid Man-style. That is all.

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Katharine Shilcutt