A blender called the Vitamix is usually pinpointed as the product which gave birth to one of the most annoying television genre ever conceived: the infomercial. What is most astonishing bout this claim by Vitamix as the star of the first infomercial is that it was first broadcast in 1949 when the entire number of television sets in America paled in comparison to the number of home fallout shelters. A quick check of the existing video of that infomercial indicates that it could quite possibly belong on a list of the top ten worst infomercial products of all time simply by virtue of the repugnant quality of the product it blended. But this is a list of products made by people who should know better geared toward consumers who should know better, so the Vitamix will have to remain content with its historical status as the first rather than the worst.
Here are the best selling Top 10 Worst Infomercial Products of All Time
Those long cart rides around the golf course while you toss back drinks ordered at the 19th Hole apparently take their toll on the bladders on 70 year old retirees. It is hard to imagine what is more distressing: that someone made an infomercial featuring people peeing into a hollow golf clubs or that people would actually buy a hollow golf club into they can pee while trying to appear as though they are not peeing into a hollowed-out golf club. Fortunately, a conveniently placed towel is provided to hide most of the detailed goings-on.
9. GLH (Great Looking Hair) Hair in a Can Spray
Despite being from RonCo which, it must be admitted, did give American one of the all-time great infomercial products ever—the Pocket Fisherman—it seems that founder Ron Popeil really dropped the ball on this one. The product was contained in an aerosol can much like you would use to apply paint to small surfaces. And is exactly what the GLH (Great Looking Hair) Hair in a Can Spray did. It essentially painted balding skulls in an effort to replicate the appearance of hair. It didn’t.
The Flowbee is a vacuum cleaner with an attachment for slicing through hair. Boiled down to its core definition, that is. A man who had made his living doing carpentry work once had time stop still as he saw every particle of sawdust instantly disappear from his own hair using an industrial-sized power vac. Within that moment which lasted an instant for the rest of the world, Rick Hunt moved freely through the time-space continuum to happen upon the revelation that were a sharp razor hooked to such a device, it would produce the ultimate barber gadget.
The Flowbee sold u the millions, earning its inventor a spot in the unofficial marketing hall of fame and it is worth noting that the product does not make this list of the top ten worst infomercial products of all time because it does not work as promised. It makes the list, in fact, for the exact opposite reason: it works exactly as promised. The problem lies in the fact that that promise does not produce the kind of haircut capable of stimulating one to head out and show off. Which may, in fact, be the reason why the product seems mainly geared toward those wanting to simplify the aesthetics of grooming their dog.
7. Mr. Microphone
A true classic of the genre in which the actual commercial in question remains one of the all-time greats. So ingrained is the mythos of Mr. Microphone that it was parodied into the central plot device of a classic early episode of The Simpsons. Nobody argues that Mr. Microphone deserves a spot in the Valhalla of infomercial commercials. Nobody argues that when working at the top of its game, Mr. Microphone is capable of providing all the fun it promises in that memorable commercial.
Where the argument that this product is one of the worst in the history of infomercials is in the application. The plain fact of the matter is that to get it to work just like it does in the commercial required a perfect convergence of working batteries, a radio signal with no actual station on either side of it and just the right distance between the mike and the amplifier (the radio). If any single one of these elements failed to converge, Mr. Microphone was destined to disappoint.
6. The Shake Weight
It looks like a barbell. Except that the weights cannot be removed or replaced. And it also has cushioning scrounged up against each interior side of the weight. You grasp it with your hands and rather than doing bicep curls, you hold it out in front of you and start shaking it. The reality is that this product has gotten a lot of flak over the years as one of the all-time worst infomercial products ever, but in truth it works a lot better than many other less maligned products.
You place the Thawmaster between your legs and squeeze together and—voila!—you have firm thighs that make your high heels look practical as well as alluring. No, wait a minute. That’s not the Thawmaster, that’s the Thighmaster. Another bad infomercial product, but at least it has potential. The Thawmaster was constructed to facilitate the thawing of a frozen food to make for quick food prep. That was the theory, anyway. Only one problem: the frozen food really never seemed to thaw any faster when placed atop the Thawmaster than it would if placed between the Thighmaster.
4. Head-On Headache Reliever
Okay, in the name factual accuracy, the Head-On product is not technically an infomercial product. The commercial offered almost no information and the entire commercial only lasted 30 seconds. However, at the height of its penetration into the American consciousness, that 30 second commercial would sometimes air back to back to back during more than one commercial break of a program, resulting in a total screen-time per day that far outstripped the typical 30-minute long infomercial.
Repetition was the key: not only did the commercial air repetitively, but it essentially consisted of nothing but the product tagline repeated three times “Head-On. Apply directly to the forehead.” Other than that directive, precious little information could be gleaned. The product was eventually removed from the market.
3. The Better Marriage Blanket
There is little doubt that extreme and uncontrollable flatulence while sleeping is a cause of tension in some marriages. Enough to warrant manufacturing a product that is then sold in infomercials? Seems somewhat dubious, but who knows? After all, stinky sleep is not a problem commonly discussed yet. Every other problem that pops up in a marriage, sure, but not that one.
Even given the acceptance that bad flatulence is a major cause of marital stress…the Better Marriage Blanket just remains wholly unsound on its very premise. The protection it affords one spouse from the release of gas by the other is dependent upon an activated-carbon fabric invented by military minds as protection against actual toxic gases in the form of chemical weapons. The real world application just stinks of suspicion is all.
2. Miss Cleo’s Psychic Friends Network
Okay, here’s the thing about this infomercial product. If there even one single iota of truth or factual accuracy to its claims…it wouldn’t need to exist. Why? Because if there was such a thing as a network of psychic capable of reading the future….why would they be waiting for desperate infomercial viewers to call them? Why not use their powers to pick winning lottery numbers? Or make bets on longshot winners that nobody saw coming?
1. The Hawaii Chair
The Hawaii Chair features a revolving cushion. You sit in the chair and the seat revolves, forcing your body to move in a hula-like motion with it; thus the name. The purpose? Hard to tell; certainly the infomercial itself offers nothing in the way of any indication as to how this ridiculous movement can benefit you. It is to help you lose weight? To help you be more productive at the office? Or is the Hawaii Chair in existence merely for the purpose of making its creators laugh at the reality that some people can be convinced to buy anything?
The very concept of the infomercial is pretty annoying to begin with. Here you are paying for dozens of cable or satellite stations you never use and then those that you do use fill up enormous chunks of time in the middle of the night and on the weekends hawking merchandise that really isn’t necessary anyway. Few and far between have been the infomercial products that one can truly identify and define as a necessity.
So the world of infomercials infect your life even if you never actually make a purchase throughout your life. Just think, instead of that infomercial selling that product you hate for the millionth time at 2:00 in the morning, that station could be airing reruns of TV shows you never get to see anymore or even—dare it be suggested—old black and white movies. Now there’s something that is no longer As Seen on TV!