Products you definitely need (maybe)

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True job satisfaction
  • This bear has found a truly fulfilling job
For Consumerism Week, I was going to write about Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping, an ongoing performance art project that encourages people to, yes, stop shopping. I figured I could also work in a reference to Whet Moser's excellent Chicago magazine post on the history of Black Friday, not to mention my colleague Kate Schmidt's imagining of other holiday-branded days. Then I realized that I don't have much to add on any of those topics—so I started surfing the Web to find the most useless products in existence. (In other offices they'd probably call that "wasting time." I call it "research.")

Right off the bat, I came across a couple products that made me rethink my anticonsumerist attitude. Not that I want to buy them, but some things are just so ridiculous I'm happy they exist so that people can make fun of them, like pens marketed to women or Sex and the City 2. A single Huffington Post roundup introduced me to both the Tiddy Bear seat belt protector and the Kush support. The image on the Kush home page is pretty self-explanatory (and somewhat NSFW, unless you work in my office), but to understand why the Tiddy Bear is funny it helps to watch the infomercial, featuring a little stuffed bear snuggling into the model's cleavage.

Ellen DeGeneres was so taken with it that she gave one away to everyone in her studio audience several years ago (sadly, the video doesn't seem to be available online). And in response to a video explaining the origins of the product's name, the supposedly humorous site infomercial-hell.com posted one of the most humorless articles I've ever seen. The really interesting part, though, is the comments, where the alleged owners of the tiddybear.com domain name drop by to explain that it came into existence in 1995 when Wayne was thinking up an AOL screen name for his wife. According to Wayne's comment, "She is on the large size, so I told her you have Tiddies and your round and squeezable like a Bear. So that's our part of the story. That's TiddyBear." Charming, no?

So maybe not *everyone* needs the aforementioned products. However. There is also something that was originally conceived of as an April Fool's joke and now exists (unfortunately, it's not Crib). It's a sugar syrup flavored like chicken and waffles, and everyone most definitely needs that. Or the Booze Belt, which includes holsters for two bottles of alcohol and six shot glasses. Or a tie made out of wood. Or an ostrich pillow (hey, enough people liked that idea to fund it on Kickstarter). Or Sriracha lip balm. Go forth and conquer.

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