Ups and Downs: Late-Night Infomercials Hall of Fame


Friedrich Nietzsche once said that, “Sleeping is no mean art; for its sake one must stay awake all day.” Though I’m sure that it is tough to get a good night’s rest while syphilis ravages your brain, he brings up a good point: Sleep is for cowards / those with a 9-5 job. Personally, I rarely make it to bed before 2 a.m., which means that I’m privy to a ton of shit-awful infomercials. So many, in fact, that I think we need to start recognizing the classic of this medium in a segment we’re calling the Late-Night Informercials Hall of Fame.

1. The Flavor Injector:

Most people are familiar with Ron Popeil and his line of Ronco cooking products, all of which allow you to “set it, and forget it!” (until you remember about it two weeks later, try to eat the food, and get violently ill). The “Flavor Injector” is actually only included as part of a larger offer for the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie Oven, which offers enough space to cook a rack of lamb, sixteen one-pound hamburgers, or a newborn baby. I have seen this infomercial at least one hundred times, so I know better than anyone else how the “Flavor Injector” injects spices into portions of meat you intend to cook, and at the same time possesses the most sexually suggestive name of any item you are likely to find in the kitchen. If you ever wanted to artificially inseminate a Christmas ham but lacked the tools, here’s your answer.

My favorite thing about the whole Ronco product line, however, is Ron Popeil himself. Or, more specifically, his hair. For a guy with enough money to practically give away counter-top rotisserie ovens, you would think he could afford a good dye job. Instead, it looks like he broke open a ball-point pen, poured the ink into the Flavor Injector, and then applied it to his scalp. Looking good, buddy!

2. The Snuggie:

As near as I can tell, The Snuggie is actually just a modified version of the clothing worn by members of the Heaven’s Gate cult, which all but guarantees that if you put this thing on your body it won’t be long before you are drinking Koolaid laced with some sort of neurotoxin and losing blood from every orifice (which once happened to me after drinking regular Koolaid, so you never know). But hot shit, is this thing ever stylish! No wonder the full-grown men in the commercial are so excited to be seen in public while wearing it, at events like house-league soccer games and outdoor camping trips where they can lose the respect of the family or their entire local community in one easy night.

And what’s that? Unlike a blanket it has sleeves? Well goodness, that will make it easier for me to complete simian tasks like grip a phone with my opposable thumbs or guide a piece of food from a bowl to my mouth using my hand. Those cumbersome, square-shaped blankets were always preventing me from living my life. And it comes in burgundy, royal blue, and sage green!?? Everyone knows those were the top three colors in Good Housekeeping’s annual “People Who Have Shitty Taste in Colors” poll! Hot damn.

The more I think about it, the more I come to the unavoidable conclusion that The Snuggie is the perfect gift for any person who has wondered aloud, “How can I make this blanket look more like a loosely fitting, poorly-sewn bag-dress?” It would also be good for anyone who, for some reason, is unaware of the existence of sweatshirts and/or socks. I’ll be sure to order my first dozen Snuggies today.

3. The Big City Slider Station:

Billy Mays was legendary in the infomercial world, and his death in 2009 was really sad. But Mays had been hocking this kind of shit for a long time, and anyone who has ever seen a commercial with him knows that his internal “acceptable volume” gage was completely busted, but even for him this is absurdly loud. He is literally shouting in your face until you purchase the Big City Slider Station (which may or may not be the name of a Fisher Price cowboy toy that my mom bought me when I was two).

And WHAT a product! As any Michelin-rated chef will tell you, hamburgers are the most difficult food in the world to cook. So difficult, in fact, that normally we only entrust their preparation to the surly, hormonal teenagers at the Wendy’s drive-thru, and to your most drunken uncle in the backyard on the Fourth of July. And the smaller the burger, the more challenging the cooking; micro-surgery requires precision robotic and computerized tools, and restaurant-style sliders require a grey frying pan molded into five small ovals. Gone are those anxious moments where you struggle to lift a 1/4-lb burger patty from the grill without dropping it on the floor or peeing your pants. More importantly, as the infomercial notes, you can use the Big City Slider Station to “Join the Craze!”….of eating ground beef, a craze that has been sweeping the nation for no less than six centuries.