Excavation 2012 – Day #14 – Damn You Infomercials. Damn You!

I’ve already written at length about the fact that I am a bit of a sucker when it comes to infomercials (click HERE if you need a refresher). I don’t know what it is. There’s just something about those fast-talking endorsements that make even the most ridiculous products seem not only plausible, but downright desirable. By the time they are flashing the 1-800 number up on the screen, I’m utterly convinced that my life will be completely fulfilled and a whole lot simpler if I can just get my hands on a Slap Chop or a Slushy Magic or the Smooth Away Hair Removal System.

Well, maybe I’m not completely convinced, but I am curious enough about the products to spend a few bucks when I happen to find them in the bargain bin at my local Walmart or Bed Bath & Beyond. And while there have been a few hits–like the Perfect Pancake and the Sham-Wow–there have also been a few big misses.

Case in point–Pedi-Paws.

In theory, this product is brilliant. When you own a dog like Electra, whose sleek coat requires very minimal grooming, there is little reason to fork out a lot of money to take her to a professional groomer. The only reason we ever paid a professional in the first place was because I was scared to try and clip her toenails on my own.

Go ahead and judge me. Call me a wuss. But take a look at the problem for yourself…

Electra doesn’t just have toenails, she has large multi-colored raptor claws. Some are whitish and sort of opaque and some are thick and black, making it nearly impossible to be 100% sure where the quick is. Her nails belong on an animal much larger, a Saint Bernard or a rhinocerous perhaps.

I think my fear of becoming Electra’s personal pedicurist might have something to do with the fact that our sweet hound walks around with a face so mopey you’d swear she suffers from canine clinical depression. Deep down, I know that is just a byproduct of being half-basset. But there’s just something about that sad, droopy face that makes me fear that she just might never forgive me if I accidentally hurt her by cutting one of her nails too short. And if there was actually any blood involved, I would never be able to forgive myself.

Enter Pedi-Paws.

The infomercial made it look so simple, and it guaranteed a no-pain alternative to nail-cutting. I figured it was worth a try.

Worst purchase ever.

Problem #1 – Between the high-pitched whining noise and the vibration, Electra wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. It took a combination of cookies, peanut butter and a modified wrestling hold to actually get her to stay still long enough to give it a try, which led to…

Problem #2 – While the Pedi-Paws might actually be useful on a cat or a chihuahua or another animal that has small, manageable nails, the only thing that is really going to work on Electra’s talons is a high-powered belt sander. Roughly 30 seconds and 2 toenails into our first attempt with the Pedi-Paws and we were already replacing the rotating emery head. Not a good first impression.

We gave it a few more tries, just to make sure there wasn’t some secret we were missing, but the final conclusion on this one is that it’s not even worth the batteries inside it. Destination = trash.

I will leave you with a few of my favorite excerpts from the instruction manual. These were simply too good not to share…

I wasn't sure whether this guy was trying to keep the dog still for a pedicure or get to second base. Either way, epic fail.
And just a little additional instruction on how to subdue your dog for his pedicure. Be sure to take a second look at the illustration above ^^ and use your imagination for how it might look working on the back paws. Too bad they didn't include a separate illustration for that.
Any mani/pedi product that requires you to wear protective goggles is doomed to failure.
Don't use on humans. Check. Don't insert into body cavities. WTF? Sadly, you know the only reason the manufacturers had to put that in the manual was because some ignoramus actually tried it.

365 Project – Day 239 – Infomercial Madness

I don’t consider myself a gullible person, but damned if I don’t get sucked in by infomercials. Seriously, I think I might have a problem.

It all started with a man named Ron Popeil and his food dehydrator. I don’t know if it had more to do with the fact that I was still up watching TV at 3:00 a.m. or the fact that I have something of an obsession with beef jerky, but fifteen seconds into Ron’s sales pitch, and I was sold.

Too bad I was twelve and didn’t have my own credit card or that magic machine would have been mine, right along with the Ronco Rotisserie and the Pasta Maker.

I’m a choosy customer though. I don’t just fall for any old product that pops up. Case in point–the Snuggie. Really? A blanket with sleeves? Why not buy yourself a bathrobe and put it on backwards? Problem solved. Or hell, if you’re that cold, wear a sweatshirt. Snuggie–even the name makes me shudder.

If it wasn’t bad enough that humans are being duped into wearing these brightly colored fleece Jedi robes, now they’re targeting pets with Snuggies for dogs and cats. I can understand the occasional dog or cat wearing sweaters. I get that. But a pet Snuggie? That’s animal cruelty my friends, and I won’t tolerate it.

And how about the Flowbee? I definitely wasn’t duped by the handy little haircutting vacuum attachment. Sucking my hair into a vacuum cleaner doesn’t sound like a good idea any time. Add a device that is actually going to shear my hair off in the process, and you better believe I’m going to put up a fight. At this point though, I am starting to wonder, considering the product was first launched in the 80’s and is still being sold today. Heck, I would pay $10 to anyone who would send me a video of them actually giving themselves (or a willing participant) a Flowbee haircut.

But how about the ShamWow? Now there’s a product that had me at hello. A magic piece of cloth that efficiently absorbs something like 12 times it’s weight in liquid? Perfect for cleaning up spills, washing windows, drying off your dog after a bath? Sold. Add an overly-energetic salesman with a thick New York accent and a rather sarcastic delivery of the catch phrase, “You’ll be saying ‘Wow!” every time!” and it was all I could do to keep myself from speed dialing the number to be one of the first hundred callers who receive a double order at no extra charge. When I happened to see a display of ShamWows one day at Bed, Bath and Beyond, I couldn’t help myself. Unfortunately, while the rags were great for dusting and cleaning up messes, they fell far short of the claims that they can dry a wet dog instantly. Well, not my dog at least, since Electra’s coat is apparently twice as absorbant as the ShamWow and somehow managed to suck all the liquid back in after I tried drying her with one.

Hell, even my husband is not immune to the infomercial craze. With his anal organizational tendencies, it’s no surprise that his infomercial obsession is the Space Bags that claim they can help you gain up to three times the storage space in your home or in your suitcase while traveling. He is convinced that these magic bags just might be the answer to our home storage problems.I definitely follow his logic on space bagging all of the clothes that Cadence has outgrown and any extra blankets, towels and off-season clothing, yet, considering that 90% of the boxes cluttering our basement are filled with books, I think our space bag experiment might have its limits.

But the infomercial that has us both firmly in its grip at the moment is the Slushy Magic. We caught this short sales pitch exactly once as it whizzed by in a blur of brightly colored shaking cups and giddy giggling children. The basic premise–pour a liquid of your choice into the Slushy Magic cup, add the three reusable magic cubes, firmly attach the lid, shake it up and SHAZZAM! Instant slushy goodness. Being self-proclaimed Slurpee addicts living in a state that has zero, count them ZERO 7-11’s within its borders, the Slushy Magic made us both sit up and pay attention.

Oh yeah, we are sooooooo gonna try this one when we see it sitting on the sale rack at Wal-Mart or Bed, Bath and Beyond. If it works, life is beautiful. If not, it’s something fun for Cadence to play with. I’d say it’s a winner either way.

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to those infomercials that send us running out to buy something new or leave us scratching our heads and wondering what they hell those people were thinking. What are some of your favorites?