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Holiday Gift Guide 2010 

While there are several components to this gift guide — including a survey of new stores in Manitou Springs, Old Colorado City and downtown Colorado Springs, plus a rundown of holiday-shopping-related events — at least one of them should be approached with caution.

And that, of course, is the As Seen On TV article below, in which Indy staffers wrote to Santa (aka Ronco, Amazon and others) for gifts to make the season bright as an old-fashioned cathode ray tube.

After all, who hasn't longed for his or her own Jupiter Jack™ or Fushigi™ magic gravity ball? What true American consumer didn't spend Cyber Monday grappling with the desire to invest in a Shake Weight® or a Snuggie® for Dogs? Is there anyone who wouldn't jump at the chance to turn the kitchen into a site for self-actualization, thanks to the Xpress Redi-Set-Go™ and the Original Quick Chop?

In recognition of these primal urges, we've put together a guide to actual As Seen On TV products, as tested and rated (on a star scale of 1 to 5) by our team of amateurs. In doing so, we have partaken in a time-tested tradition that dates back to the early days of television, when '50s hosts like Jack Benny and Groucho Marx hawked invigorating Geritol tonics and shiny new DeSoto automobiles. Even the animated, prime-time Flintstones closed each week with Stone Age stars Fred and Barney puffing on Winston cigarettes.

So it's small wonder that audiences enraptured with this new and exceedingly modern medium should begin to see a product's appearance on television as a sure sign of unparalleled quality.

Before long, the phenomenon spawned products made exclusively for TV viewers, who were invited to "call before midnight tonight so you don't forget," and to send checks or money orders to a post office box in our very own Pueblo, Colorado.

Even today, late-night viewers are hypnotized by seminar-length infomercials, in which "live" audiences respond to miraculous products that bring previously unimagined excitement to the humdrum routines of everyday life.

In our own test, it's fair to say that words cannot do justice to the joy that greeted the arrival of each new product, or, in my case, the sadness upon finding that my TV Hat™ was on back-order.

Undaunted, we placed an order with Ronco, venerable purveyors of Pocket Fisherman ("The Best Gift You Can Give Any Kid Or Adult") and Mr. Microphone ("The Cordless Microphone That Actually Puts Your Voice On The Radio"), for the 5-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator & Beef Jerky Maker.

On Monday, The Most Famous Food Dehydrator In The World finally arrived. Sadly, it was accompanied by a suspicious rattling that turned out to be the sound of finely shattered shards of plastic. This, in spite of the $14.95 shipping + handling fee.

So here's the warning: The Flintstones all died from cancer, and there's a good chance that As Seen On TV gifts won't show up on time or intact. With holidays fast approaching, you can more reliably visit chain stores with sections devoted to these products, a number of which are reviewed here. Or you could just skip the whole thing and buy real gifts from your local retailers.

— Bill Forman

Click here to see the entire Gift Guide Table of Contents!

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