Worst ‘As Seen On TV’ products


Art by Yasmeen El-Jayoussi

Jacqueline LeBlanc

In the LeBlanc household, one guilty pleasure that may not be our proudest quality is the fact that we are all users of As Seen On TV products.  While my father would deny it and my mother would shake her head at my “over-exaggeration,” As Seen On TV products dominate our daily lives. For example, my mom pushed to cook our Thanksgiving turkey in our Nu-Wave Oven – like she does with every other meat product – my parents sealed the leaks in our basement with their five cans of Flex Seal, and occasionally, on the rare event when I do choose to exercise, I take a stroll down to our basement and take a three minute spin on our Ab Circle Pro and then end the day curled up in my bed with my cheetah-print Snuggie.
Growing up, I enthused over As Seen On TV products.  I would continuously beg for my mother to stop whatever she was doing to order whatever ridiculous product Ron Popeil or Billy Mays tried to sell me while I shoving the telephone into her rib cage. Every time, I would receive the same reply: to wait until it was available in stores.  However, that only made the moment sweeter when passing the product I eventually forgot about months later in Walmart or Bed Bath & Beyond and being able to throw it in our shopping cart. And yet, the same familiar feeling of ignorance and disappointment never failed to eventually overwhelm my emotions when the item turned out to be a mere piece of junk.  While I no longer enthuse over As Seen On TV items, and continue to warn my parents against flooding our household with the ridiculous clutter, the constant infomercials never fail to entertain or remind me of some of the most awful products out there.

And so, I present unto you, the top 10 worst As Seen On TV Products.
10. Conair Quick Braid Twist Braiders
In second grade I didn’t know how to braid hair. My mother would constantly try to teach me, but I just wasn’t able to grasp the concept. So, to replace actually giving up on me, she bought me a pink Conair Quick Braid Twist Braider that I saw on an infomercial months earlier.
You could say I was ecstatic.
Not only could I now braid my own hair, but I could do multiple braids (because I was quite a stylish 2nd grader, and that was the stylish thing to do). After practicing on my dolls for a good ten minutes, I parted a section of my hair into three and carefully secured each section into its clasp in the braider. I excitedly flipped the switch to ‘on’, anxiously wondering what my braid would look like and how long it would take. In a matter of seconds, the three sections of my hair was not a braid, but a giant, entangled catastrophe. Not only did the braider fail to put my hair in a braid, but also entangled itself into my hair. I spent the next ten minutes in tears, while my mother painfully attempted to detach the plastic device from my head. Ten years later, I’m pretty sure they have stopped selling the Conair Quick Braid Twist Braider, and it’s probably because thousands of broken-hearted second graders’ parents complained that it left their child’s hair unbraided and in a tangled mess.
9. Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter
My mother tends to go through phases, cooking phases, specifically. For weeks, my mom went through a bread phrase, and she baked it several times a day, everyday. After that, it was making her own lasagna and then strawberry short cake. During the summer, one of my mother’s said phases was growing her own vegetables. It actually became one of my favorite phases since our house was constantly replenished with fresh vegetables. However, when we moved into our new house in Columbia, and my mother was told that our neighborhood association would not permit vegetable gardens, she used this as an opportunity to purchase a good old As Seen On TV item.  My mother would find a way around the rule by planting her tomatoes with the Topsy Turvy Tomato Giant. She bought several, and placed them in our kitchen, on our deck and on our window sills. Not only was that thing supposed to provide us with home grown tomatoes in a timely fashion, but I’m pretty sure it also promised that these said tomatoes would be rather large. After waiting a whole summer for these supposedly fantastic tomatoes, they never grew and months of eating tomato-less sandwiches was for nothing.
8. Ab Roller Slide
When my mom first purchased this when I was in elementary school, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I had no idea what its purpose was, but it was cool. My sister and I would sit aside and watch my parents sweat and struggle to use it, waiting for them to eventually give up and throw it aside. And when they did, we would eagerly take turns playing with it. We didn’t use it purposefully, though; we used it for a scooter, and we still didn’t understand why our parents struggled so much with it. What was so hard about getting on your knees and rolling that thing back and forth with your arms? But years later, after scouring our basement for exercise equipment and falling upon my sister’s and my beloved ‘scooter’ I decided to give it a whirl.
Maybe it’s the fact that I am just not an exercise equipment kind of gal or that I’m lazy and never put much effort into my workouts, but I definitely could not tolerate more than five minutes of using this product. My back was sore, my shoulders were sore and my arms were sore, but I felt nothing in my abs. The soreness continued into the second day, but I decided to try again, considering that the day may have been a fluke. After another five minutes, my abs still felt nothing. This product could still be a good investment, but only if you’re nine and in need of a new scooter.
7.  Trendy Top
Luckily, I was never the owner of a Trendy Top and for a good reason. It’s dumb.
The concept of having a piece of cloth that wraps around your waist and only reaches your midriff to avoid exposing the back and stomach area seems like one of those ideas that sounds better in your head as opposed to out loud. If you’re really concerned with someone seeing your back or midriff, do the normal thing and just buy a camisole.
6. Forever Lazy
Now, I have nothing against the Snuggie. A blanket with sleeves is a ridiculous idea, but it serves its purpose.  But when there’s a blanket that covers your arms, your legs and your head like the Forever Lazy does, it doesn’t become a blanket anymore, but more of a fleece bodysuit, which is ridiculous.  If you’re really that cold, do the sensible thing and wear a hoodie and sweat pants. And if you are going to be one of those people who choose to wear a Forever Lazy, contrary to what the infomercial suggests, don’t go public with it.
5. Pajama Jeans
Unfortunately, in terms of pants, you can’t have the best of both worlds. Although Pajama Jeans tries to get you to believe that with their product it is possible to have a pair of fancy presentable pants while being comfortable all at the same time, Pajama Jeans are truly just tacky.
4. Shake Weight
For some reason, seeing exercise equipment on infomercials gets me. I’m temporarily my ten-year-old gullible, As Seen On TV product-loving self again, and I’m forced to restrain myself from picking up my cell phone, taking out my check book and calling the 1-800 number. And the Shake Weight was no different.
So, imagine my excitement when my mother returned home from Bed, Bath & Beyond, Shake Weight in hand. I quickly threw my sports bra and Nike shorts on, grabbed the Shake Weight and ran to the fitness part of our basement. Finally, I thought, a tool where I can do as little work as possible and still get into shape.
Now, maybe the Shake Weight actually does work, and I’m just completely incompetent to anything that has to do with exercise (which is a very viable possibility), but it definitely did not work out for me. For six minutes everyday, I stood in the same position and shook it like the infomercials displayed, but it wasn’t until a week later that my sister informed me that I wasn’t even shaking the weight correctly.  How was I supposed to know that there’s a correct way to shake a weight?  Needless to say, it didn’t work for me, and from my perspective, it’s too complex to work for other people.
3.  Pillow Pet/Dream Lite
I’m going to take the liberty and combine the Pillow Pet and the Dream Lite.  One’s a pillow, which is also a stuffed animal, and the other one is a pillow that has lights in it. I guess if you have a four-year-old, it’s an okay investment to keep them entertained for a good two weeks, but honestly, for the price, that’s an expensive night light / ‘pet’.
2.  Shamwow
The Shamwow is a towel that claims to hold 12 times its weight. I repeatedly watched Vince Offer show his audience that with the Shamwow you would be able to soak up any liquid on any surface with ease. In his infomercial, he pours a bottle of soda onto a piece of carpet, and seconds later, he merely places the Shamwow on top of the carpet, and without applying pressure, lets it sit on the carpet. After a few seconds, he removed the Shamwow and twisted it, pouring out a large majority of the soda from the Shamwow. He then pressed the Shamwow back onto the carpet, and after a matter of seconds, the soda stain was removed. I was in awe. I had to know how the Shamwow worked. So, naturally, I dragged my mother to the As Seen On TV section of Walmart and we purchased two Shamwows. My sister and I eagerly came home and spilled an assortment of different liquids onto our hardwood floors, countertops and my dog in an attempt to mimic what we saw on the infomercial. Long story short, the Shamwows did not work, and my mother was very displeased with her newly-found dirty kitchen.
1. Bumpits
When my friends and I first saw the Bumpits infomercial, it became a long-running joke. We mocked the people in the infomercial and could not believe it when we saw a 40-year-old woman with blonde hair in the grocery store, wearing a large, obvious brown Bumpit. Yet, when we saw that a store was selling two boxes of Bumpits for five dollars, we could not pass up the opportunity, and we purchased the Bumpits. Bumpits make your hair look unnaturally large and cone-shaped, and for people with thin hair, wearing a Bumpit is incredibly obvious. Out of all the outrageous As Seen On TV products in my house, this one is definitely the most ridiculous and can be partially blamed for sparking one of the worst fashion trends of the decade.
By Jacqueline LeBlanc