I have a confession: I enjoy watching infomercials. You know – those advertising videos that feature people who live in a monochromatic world struggling with some mundane task while a voiceover laments that we just DoN’t HaVe TiMe to do all the stuff we need to. Oh, and then some kind of “expert” you’ve never heard of returns us to the land of color to explain how the product up for sale will solve this problem, which didn’t actually seem like one up till this very moment.
Yes, I love infomercials, and I’m not alone; thousands of other YouTube visitors have given them an impressive number of views, consolidated them into compilations, and even posted videos where they test out the goods in question.
Here are 5 infomercials that, for one reason or another, have become my favorites.
Tajazzle is advertised as a confidence-boosting program made up of three parts: some sort of antiperspirant powder, flavored body oils, and crystal tattoo stickers (made with “Swarovski elements.”) The infomercial features a group of very pretty women in revealing clothing, who all reveal that they just didn’t feel good about themselves before these wondrous goodies entered their lives. Uh huh. Sure. Although they do show a man using the product, too, it’s clearly mainly meant for women… which is strange, given the lascivious marketing style.
What I love about this infomercial is how blatantly absurd it is. The notion that you can suddenly start radiating confidence simply by applying body powder and stickers that you ordered on TV is just hilarious. There’s also the awful acting and ridiculous slogan, “Put some bling in your fling.” I don’t know what my “fling” is supposed to be, but I suspect the correct answer is my butt cheek.
Cost: 60 freaking bucks. They justify this by offering a bonus crystal tattoo, which they value at $30 – a preposterous figure even for the 00s, when these crystal stickers were actually popular.
Can you still buy it? Nope. The website went offline in 2011, although by then they appeared to have cut the price in half. If you want this for some weird reason, I’d recommend just buying some normal deodorant.
Bonus fact: If the name sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking of Vajazzle, a short-lived trend of getting crystals applied directly to your pubis. The brilliant minds behind Tajazzle were likely trying to emulate that with the cheapie stickers you get in the kit, and I guess they decided to throw in the other stuff to try to justify a $60 price tag.
Chef Randall’s Turbo Cooker is a huge pan that comes with a domed lid, which you can apparently use to prepare a wide variety of food in a shorter amount of time – all with nothing more than the power of steam. The hosts of this infomercial cook main dishes, sides, and desserts in the thing, all with NO OIL!!! This was released in 2000, so the vestiges of the low-fat fad of the 90s were still hanging on, which the Turbo Cooker was trying to capitalize on with its promise that water could do everything fattier ingredients did.
One of the presenters in the Turbo Cooker video is Cathy Mitchell, who is pretty much the queen of infomercials. She mostly sells weird kitchen appliances like this (with some exceptions, as we’ll be seeing next). I enjoy this infomercial thanks to her presence, as well as her co-host, Joe Fowler, and his exaggerated amazement at the largely unremarkable food coming out of the alien-looking pan.
Cost: $60 – or as the narrator puts it, three easy payments of $29.95, one having been deducted if you “order within the next 60 minutes.”
Can you still buy it? Yes! The Turbo Cooker was reintroduced this year on the Home Shopping Network, apparently without Chef Randall or Cathy Mitchell’s participation. Surprisingly, the price hasn’t dropped since its debut 19 years ago.
Bonus fact: The trademark associated with the original product is no longer active. Chef Randall himself continues to sell it, though, except it’s a lot more expensive for some reason. Are those prices in Canadian dollars?
Cathy is back! This time she’s selling something that looks like a stapler, which you can use to attach plastic gems to clothing or just about anything else you feel needs some sparkle. Thanks to the magic of “one-piece studs,” all you have to do is press down on GeMagic and the rhinestone you’ve chosen is adhered! It’s so easy to use that moms and kids can do it together. “And OK, even dads!” the narrator jokes as a clip plays showing an uncertain-looking man trying to face the ordeal of pressing down on the GeMagic.
I don’t know when this came out exactly, but good lord, the styles in this infomercial look incredibly dated. The voiceover insists that garments featuring gems are everywhere and a mainstay of “high-end, designer fashions,” but I sure can’t imagine any of today’s Instagram influencers wearing any of the stuff that the infomercial models are rocking. Well, maybe if they were paid enough...
Cost: It’s $40, but this is another case of “three easy payments of $19.95” where the commercial offers to pay one for you. This time, you don’t have 60 minutes, though; you need to call “right now!”
Can you still buy it? Not from the manufacturer, but there are plenty of GeMagics hanging around on eBay, and it pops up on Amazon from time to time. You can also pick up more gems from Etsy for a few bucks.
Bonus fact: This infomercial apparently made its way across the pond, because the BBC made a pretty hilarious parody. You can even watch someone (also British) test the GeMagic out. I don’t want to admit how many times I misspelled the name of the product as GemMagic.
This item became something of a meme a few years back. Not so much because of the product itself, but because of the way it was presented by Dee Gruenig, whose over-the-top enthusiasm is strangely addictive to behold. The tool she obsesses over is a craft sponge that has been densely compressed, so it can be used to create seamless designs. Dee spends nearly the full 37 minutes demonstrating all the great things she has made with the sponge and how excited she is about them.
Unlike some of the other infomercial personalities, you can tell that Dee is completely genuine in her love for the product she’s sharing. Her thrilled gasps, squeals and giggles as she displays what the sponge can do are simply a joy to observe. Seriously, find someone who feels for you what Dee feels for this thing.
Cost: No idea. I’m sure it was worth every penny, though.
Can you still buy it? Unfortunately not. The product was discontinued years ago, and any that have popped up for sale online afterward have long since already been purchased. For an alternative, look for any square sponge that has been densely compressed (i.e., the holes are very small). Ink refills are usually easy to find on eBay and similar sites.
Bonus fact: Dee wasn’t just some infomercial presenter; she was the product developer behind the rainbow sponge and owned the company that manufactured it, Posh Impressions. While she obviously has plenty of love for the sponge, Dee’s first passion seems to be rubber stamps, the main category of items that Posh Impressions produced, and another subject she did a video on.
The Magic Bullet is pretty much just a very small blender, but its manufacturers would prefer for you to think of it as a “personal, versatile countertop magician.” This infomercial is unusual because instead of two presenters talking directly to the viewer, it actually sets up a whole scenario with actors playing characters. Mick and Mimi’s kitchen is full of guests who all attended their barbecue last night – a barbecue so good that everyone decided to stay over, apparently. As it turns out, Mick and Mimi’s preferred way of entertaining these people is by showing them what the Magic Bullet can do.
I can only imagine what it’s like to be invited to one of Mick and Mimi’s parties. I have a feeling they involve getting extremely wasted on cheap blended drinks made in the Magic Bullet while reruns of “Friends” play in the background, followed by a morning of a nasty hangover and your gracious hosts trying to sell you stuff.
Cost: Originally, a cool $120. That got you the machine itself plus a whole bunch of accessories. These days, the Bullet is usually sold on its own for $30 to $40.
Can you still buy it? Indeed you can. The official website is still active, though they no longer use the infomercial as promotion, instead having a much shorter video where people who look like models use the Bullet in varying environments. There’s no Mick, no Mimi, and surprisingly, no alcohol.
Bonus fact: As it turns out, the Magic Bullet was very popular. So popular that they decided to make like 20 more. There’s the Bullet to Go, the Bullet Express, the Baby Bullet, the Dessert Bullet, the NutriBullet, the Party Bullet, and the Veggie Bullet. Maybe even more. I can’t keep up with this crap.
There are many more infomercials that I enjoy, and after you’ve watched a few of these, I can guarantee Youtube will start recommending them to you. It’s very easy to get lost in the abyss of watching them, but I have to say that never once have I really been tempted to purchase what’s on offer. In some ways, I think that watching infomercials can be a good way of indulging one’s consumerist urges without actually having to spend any money. Hey, folks, have you ever wanted to get that satisfaction of owning something new but not drain your wallet? Well, I have the solution for you! Oh no, this blog post itself is turning into an infomercial for infomercial watching. Escape while you can! For just three easy payments...