Who isn't?

I'm not proud to say it, but infomercials excite me way too much. I know they're designed to get me interested in products I just don't need, yet they still have power over me.

Infomercials are not big-budgeted, entertaining experiences. They generally don't have actors I immediately trust and I don't think ANY of the payments are all that easy. Even though I remind myself of these facts, I just can't get enough of them. Because of this, I've made changes to my life to limit my infomercial consumption.

I'm a cord cutter. I tell myself that I refuse to have cable television in my home because I don't need that many channels. I have my Netflix, I have HBO NOW and that's ALL I need. But it's not the whole truth.  


If it was, why is it that when I set foot in a hotel room, the first thing I do is plop myself on the bed and start surfing channels? I'm looking for infomercials! I have a problem. I can't be alone with them.  I HAD to get rid of cable television because it's just too full of opportunities to make goofy purchases.


To me, there are two types of infomercials: the practical and the ridiculous.

First the practical-

herc2Have you seen the infomercial for the Hercules Hooks? I sure have…and of course I've purchased them.  let me tell you that if you are in a pinch and you need to hang something without a hammer, this product works like a charm. You just need to twist and push the hook into the drywall and it magically swings upward while leveraging itself into the back side of it. You can hang so much weight on these things you won't believe it.  These are cheap, they are effective and you can now purchase some here.  What are you waiting for?  I wouldn't.  But then again, I have a problem.

Then, there is the ridiculous infomercial-

Now who could resist this product?  With a name like Wonder Sauna Hot Pants the answer is probably…EVERYONE.  Even I could resist.  Could you imagine falling for a product with a name like that?  Me neither.  But what if they were sneaky?  What if they changed the name and the color scheme just a bit?


What if the name of the product was simply called, "Sauna pants"?  That kinda has a nice ring to it doesn't it?  And what if the product wasn't that gaudy blue but hip orange instead? Hmm.  Pretty tempting right?   And how could you not want hairless abs like that?


Just imagine if you had purchased Sauna Pants 1.0.  These are even worse than the blue ones!  For the record, I have to assume that the woman is blowing up her sauna pants and not receiving nourishment from them.  But with this kind of price cut, one can't be too picky.


Ok, now that I have discussed the difference between the two types of informercials (according to me), I would like to share my favorite one of all time with you.  I have always been especially excited by the infomercial that offers more knives than I could possibly use in my lifetime. 8

I love when they show just how sharp a knife is by cutting through something crazy like a tin can or a shoe! It kills me when they show how a "regular" bread knife simply decimates a loaf of bread while their special knife saws through it without smooshing…and I become moved when they double the quantity of product while simultaneously cutting the price in half!  How do they do it?!

During all infomercials the viewer receives warnings of the amazing offer expiring soon. Now, I know with great certainty that this simply isn't true yet there I am, oogling my phone as it calls to me like a luring siren. How can I let this opportunity slip through my fingers? I absolutely need 900 knives now! There's a battle raging inside me as long as I watch. At any point, I am just seconds away from calling that evil 1-800 number. And then, when no one is looking, it happens…I make the call.

Here's the crazy thing – when I do, the purchasing has only begun because there are even more spectacular offers over the phone…and do you know what?  The window of opportunity is quickly closing on those offers as well! For just 50% more cash I can purchase the same package for a friend. That's 1800 knives and who could say no?! Certainly not me. And if I act now…and I mean right now, I can get a set of luggage, a shrimp peeler and a food dehydrator for another 90 bucks! It's not even related to what made me call in the first place but I have to have it all because I just love a deal!


But if I'm going to be perfectly honest…I really enjoy the entire journey of this type of purchase. It reminds me of how I felt when looking at order forms in the back of comic books as a kid. I loved ordering AND the 6-8 weeks of anticipation. The wondering of how the 100 pc. Toy Soldier set would feel like in my hands was part of the charm. Sure it was generally a big disappointment when I got my X-Ray glasses, Coffin Bank and 6 dollar Polaris Nuclear Sub, but the waiting was sublime. Maybe Infomercial products are all just Sea-Monkeys for adults. If we are too darned lazy to get up and go to the store for the products that we really need and want…don't we deserve to be hoodwinked?


No matter what though, I'll never change. I'll always have a soft spot for all of Ron Popeil's products and now that I am in my late 40's I'll probably be buying his famous hair in a can soon enough.

I hear that stuff really works!

• See Michael at Boing Boing's Weekend of Wonder, running Sept. 18-20!