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BUT WAIT!!!! Call now and we'll send you.......... Real-life experiences buying stuff from infomercials

Like just about everybody I've sat through my share of late-night infomercials. It seems a high proportion of them are flacking various things for the kitchen; mini-blenders, choppers, wipers, immersion blenders, pans, the infamous Ginsu knives, and on and on it goes.

I'm curious what experience folks have had buying stuff this way. Does it show up? Is it ever as good as the ad? Do you get on a thousand mailing lists? Do you find criminals in Russia are suddenly charging things to your credit card?

I haven't bought anything this way myself. My closest brush is a blender almost exactly the same as the "Magic Bullet." I got it at Wal-mart for about half the Magic Bullet TV price (before they send you the second one "free" except shipping and handling). It works OK if you baby it along; I use it as a spice grinder and for a few other things, but it certainly doesn't work like the TV ad model.

So what have been your experiences?

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  1. I wear my Snuggie constantly.

    7 Replies
    1. re: beevod

      I love those commercials. Watching the people struggle to do a simple task. Wasn't there a Friends episode where Joey got the part of the poor helpless man who couldn't open a carton of oj?

      I got a Snuggie to travel with. Perfect for airplanes and long car rides.

      I've been tempted by the Magic Bullet, but never bought one.

      I'm also curious about the vacuum sealers. I think I'll do some research and add one to my Xmas list this year.

      I saw the Robo Stirrer in action this past Xmas (gravy) and wasn't too impressed. But maybe it works better in a small pot w/a thinner liquid.

      1. re: viperlush

        > Robo Stirrer

        This is the only gadget that has tempted me. It is a great idea. If this one doesn't work, I'm sure someone will come up with a competing product that is more stable, and higher-end.

        1. re: viperlush

          "I got a Snuggie to travel with. Perfect for airplanes and long car rides."

          I've always wondered: what's the difference between a Snuggie and a fleece bathrobe, other than one opens in the front, and the other in the back ?

          1. re: dump123456789

            You just gotta go and ruin the fun, huh? :)

            I got a snuggie "knock-off" from Brookstone for Christmas. I don't know about the REAL snuggie, but this one has more material than a regular bathrobe, so it wraps around you better. It drapes more comfortably. I tried the whole backwards bathrobe thing, and there is a difference.

            1. re: Heatherb

              OK, how about I wear a fleece sweatshirt, and on top of that, a fleece bathrobe facing forward ?

              I just can't get over how the Snuggie makes you look like a monk.

        2. re: beevod

          I have a Snuggie at home and at work

        3. Got the Ginsu set as a wedding gift in 1988. Late wife and I thought it was a hoot at the time. Fastforward 24 years; I use the steak knives daily and still have the whole set in a drawer somewhere, just can't let them go. As far as purchasing "as seen on TV", I haven't. I don't remember anything else we got as wedding gifts, but those darned Ginsus still make me chuckle and they're good for a laugh w/ company.

          3 Replies
          1. re: hamboney

            Yeah, my MIL got us a set of Ginsu knives, too (that's not all we got...she's not that cheap!). We only use the steak knives, but the rest of them are in the bottom of a drawer somewhere. The steak knives have held up surprisingly well over the last quarter century, but perhaps that's because we don't cut tin cans with them that often.

            1. re: ricepad

              One of my son's friends left a 7" Ginsu at our house after they fished together years ago as teens...he didn't want it back...that thing cuts up a frying chicken like butter even after all these years...really handy for me, anyway! Haha...maybe I should have asked his MOM if she wanted it back, now that I think of it!!!

            2. re: hamboney

              I got a set of ginsu knives free with a $20 purchase at a dollar store once.

            3. Bought a Thunder Stick (cheapie immersion blender) when they showed it making peanut butter. Yeah, right; while mine blends veggies into nice soups, no way it ever worked for making peanut butter.

              One night, was hungry and saw the commercial for some turnover pan, using "only bread and fruit filling." Was tempted, then realized, shoot, that's jelly on toast and made that instead. Saved about $20 (plus s & h, of course!).

              1. It's amazing how many of those gadgets end up at the 99 cent store.

                1. My mom bought me a Grater Plater. I actually really like it! the only bad thing about it is that it's tricky to grate the garlic as it gets smaller.

                  1. Never succumbed to an infomercial yet. However for some reason I love the Magic Bullet spots.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Withnail42

                      I've been seeing the Baby Bullet spot a lot lately. The bullet has a smiley face on it that makes me smile for some reason.

                      1. re: Sooeygun

                        Oh I despise that commercial. For starters they make it sound as if simply using this thing will make all food it produces organic, and that blond lady looks like she's trying to steal my soul when she's talking about "putting the date on it".

                    2. My mom bought 'Freedom Rock'.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: misterkot

                        Turn it up man!

                        My uncle had Freedom Rock and I had cassette copies of it. Loved it!

                      2. I'm a former insomniac who didn't have cable or the internet back in my most restless days. Oh God, the food infomercials I used to watch. One of the most intriguing was hosted by a "comedy" duo called The Mommies for a slow cooker. The selling point was that you got the cooker itself up to temperature, put in your delicious ingredients (like a frozen piece of boneless, skinless chicken and a jar of salsa), turned the cooker off, and in an hour you had....well, you had something, anyway. Does anyone remember this one?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: LeoLioness

                          It was called AirCore Cookware. I think it took longer than an hour to finish cooking, more like a slow cooker (timewise). The idea was that it would cook off the stove, using trapped heated air.

                          Here's a review of it from Amazon:

                          "I've had my Air Core set for quite a while and liked it very much HOWEVER today as I began to heat it, it exploded. The two parts separated and flew in opposite direction. I was hit in the head, the burners were pushed apart and the lights over the stove were wrecked. Luckily, and I do mean luckily, I was not badly injured. Neeless to say, I threw all three pans out."

                        2. I would really love to have a real Bass-o-matic.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: ricepad

                            How about the Cornballer? The Cornballer appeared in "Arrested Development". The device was known for severely burning people when they touched it.

                            1. re: GraydonCarter

                              "Everyone's laughing, and riding, and cornholing except Buster."

                          2. I know several people that LOVE their magic bullets.

                            A hunting/fishing friend of ours loves his vacuum sealer. He uses it to package homemade jerky, smoked meats and fish filets.

                            A department store at my local mall has a huge section of As Seen on TV products so the marketing must be effective enought to trickle down to bricks and morter stores.

                            I can't remember the name of the product but it is pitched by a lady with bushy red hair and she cooks various things like eggs, pizza pockets and veggies in a machine that has little cups and closes like a waffle iron. It boggles my mind, it cooks two eggs (or whatever) and she is pitching it like you can feed your entire family in a matter of minutes.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: cleobeach

                              I forget the name of that product, but that woman (Kathy) has been hawking crap for years. In fact, I owned the predecessor to that product, The SnackMaster in the early 90s (ah, dorm room cooking). I used it for grilled cheese and sad "omelets". Kathy tried to tell her audience that you could make "apple pie" using white bread and canned apple pie filling, but there wasn't enough pot int the world to make me go there.

                              What's funny is that Kathy doesn't seem to realize things like oh, the passing of time, so she's still taking about needing to feed her boys, who have got to be in their 30s at least.

                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                "she's still taking about needing to feed her boys, who have got to be in their 30s at least"

                                I assumed that meant her sons had to move back in with her, and she was cooking and cleaning for them again.

                                How did those "sad omelets" come out ? In the informercial, they looked like the "eggs" in MacDonald's breakfast sandwiches, or the spongy egg cakes that come with Japanese noodles or sushi.

                                By the way, I have bought an infomercial item (but not from TV): the American Harvest Jet Stream Oven. And I have to say that I actually love it. It's annoyingly loud, but it's great for fast crispy/crunchy convection baked food. And it blows away any fat that bubbles to the surface of the food.

                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                  My father, who hasn't cooked a thing in his life, bought a Snack Master in the late 80s/early 90s.

                                  My sister and I were so excited to make the apple pies. We were pretty bummed when we realized that it tasted like toast with canned apple pie filling. Which is exactly what it was. But boy did they make it look exciting on TV!

                                  The eggs were not good. They always came out brown and burnt on the bottom. The pizza pockets were OK.

                                  1. re: ShakenNotStirred

                                    There was a whole chunk of my life in the late 80's/90's when I was in college and didn't have a tv, so I never heard the name brand SnackMaster. People had sandwich makers, but no one I knew called it that.

                                    Anyway, fast forward 10 years (which was about 10 years ago) and I'm married - my mother-in-law literally said "Who wants lunch? I made Snack Master." I still laugh about that.

                                2. re: cleobeach

                                  Couldn't live without my FoodSaver......

                                3. My mom had one of those rotisserie cookers. I cooked a few chickens in it with great results. GBD every time.

                                  1. My mom bought two George Forman grills, one for her and one for my grandparents and I will say, that seemed to be wonderful product for those two households. My grandparents, who were getting up there in years, were able to cook a variety of items on it.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: cleobeach

                                      My ex loves his George Foreman grill for when it's too wet outside to barbecue his boneless, skinless chicken breasts to death.

                                        1. re: coney with everything

                                          Ohhhh, just one of the many, many reasons! He was so paranoid about fat and calories that unless something was cooked well-past dead, it couldn't be healthy. And he had to have a starch and veggies with every meal. It absolutely drove him nuts when I'd sit down with a cheese plate with crostini, kalamatas, etc. for dinner.

                                          1. re: tracylee

                                            I would have thought the crostini counted as starch, and the kalamatas counted as "veggies" (ie. not meat, not starch, not sweet = "veggies").

                                            1. re: dump123456789

                                              Hmmm, I never thought of it that way! I'll be sure to think of it as a complete meal from now on. :-)

                                      1. re: cleobeach

                                        We still have the GF that my bf's grandma gave him for college (10 yr ago). We use it all the time for a quick grilled chicken breast, sausage, or burger. Easy to clean and store.

                                      2. Perfect Pancake Maker isn't.

                                        1. Three observations on TV merchandise:

                                          1) Everything costs $19.95.
                                          2) You always get two for the price of one.
                                          3) All of it will be resold next summer at yard sales for a quarter.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Querencia

                                            "1) Everything costs $19.95."

                                            Plus an undisclosed amount of shipping and handling which amounts to half the price, at least, of the product. But WAIT, there's more...

                                          2. Has anyone ever seen the infomercial for the "cuchini?" A google search is a must on this one, trust me.....

                                            Im still unsure if I want to laugh hysterically or throw-up, or both! All I know is im buying a few for next xmas for my gag gifts/swaps.

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: joe777cool

                                              I had to google that - I'm still not too sure if I really saw what I think I saw...

                                              1. re: joe777cool

                                                wow! Makes you wonder who really buys it. That was good for a laugh.

                                                1. re: joe777cool

                                                  I honestly can't imagine an entire infomercial focussing on that part of the body! Yeesh.

                                                  1. re: joe777cool

                                                    Once I got done laughing, I have to agree, who buys this stuff???

                                                    1. re: joe777cool

                                                      Yo, that went up on my facebook page. I'm kind of shocked there's an infomercial...

                                                      1. re: joe777cool

                                                        There was a show called worlds dumbest inventions/infomercials, and a few of the other good ones were the "car stache," "better marriage blanket," "giant wine glass," "daddle'" "dream helmet'," and "kitty wigs."

                                                        For anyone in need of a laugh, THE cuchini infomercial:


                                                        1. re: joe777cool

                                                          Yeah, that was hilarious. I loved all the near naked people talking about 'showing too much'. I especially liked the almost naked woman in a leopard print bikini raving on about what is classy - I didn't realise she was qualified to judge :D

                                                        2. re: joe777cool

                                                          I loved the before-and-after photo, in case you were unsure what the differennce would be!

                                                          1. re: joe777cool

                                                            Part of my soul just died laughing.

                                                          2. I love my Titan peeler/slicer thingamajig. Use it a lot - it works especially well slicing cheese. I didn't actually buy it though. I leave that to my mom who loves the occasional infomercial cookware purchase. The chopper thingamajig was awful though.

                                                            1. There was an informercial on this morning when I turned on the TV to watch news. Home Sous Vide System. "You can get this in your kichen for 1 payment of $29.95." Looks like it comes with 10 bags and a vacuum sealer. I didn't watch long enough to see how many more payments of $29.95 would be required.

                                                              1. Love my Magic Bullet blender - perfect for single-serve smoothies.

                                                                LOVE LOVE LOVE my George Foreman Grill - I don't have a spot to have a real grill.

                                                                Also got the Vidalia Chopper - I think that's a TV thing too. It chops veggies by forcing them through a grate. Works pretty well since I'm not a very even chopper myself.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: Heatherb

                                                                  That is why I keep looking at the Magic Bullet. Single serving smoothies, single serving salsa...

                                                                  1. re: viperlush

                                                                    Some of the recent commercials show them coming complete with frosty mugs for slushy (assuming alcoholic) drinks. I might like that.

                                                                    1. re: viperlush

                                                                      I got my son one for Christmas last year. He makes smoothies with it on a near- daily basis.

                                                                  2. My brother gave me a Magic Bullet for Christmas once and the thing was garbage. It was so bad that I knew I would never use it so I came clean with him about it, though I did not want to offend him. He laughed about it and when I asked if he wanted it, he said if I didn't think it worked well then why would he want it. I threw it out with his approval.

                                                                    I don't htink I've actually ever purchased a product featured in an infomercial. The things offered are usually silly ways of "expediting" household chores that you can do with everyday appliances or a knife, but with less clean up and no extra junk in the cabinets.

                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                    1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                      What was bad about it? I'm curious because I've had great success using it to make smoothies. I am usually in a rush in the morning, so it's very convenient for me (a regular blender not so much). It liquefies the smoothies pretty well.

                                                                      1. re: Heatherb

                                                                        It was a couple years ago, so my memory of it is vague. I just remember it pretty much just tumbling the ingredients around and not really blending or chopping anything. I never tried a smoothie, since I rarely have them.

                                                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                          Hm... I just got mine and haven't had that problem. Perhaps they improved the design?

                                                                      2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                        Oh c'mon, you can't tell me you're not tempted to buy pajama jeans with that great free gray t-shirt.;-)

                                                                        With the magic bullet, I can't get over the gray mix they get for blueberry muffins.

                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                          The pajama jeans are a family joke, to the point where I think it's going to make a showing at our white elephant gift exchange.

                                                                        2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                          I use my Bullet knockoff to make smoothies and breadcrumbs, and to puree small batches of soup.

                                                                          1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                            I don't own the infomercial variety but I do have something resembling a slap-chop. I use it regularly enough.

                                                                            1. re: im_nomad

                                                                              I love my little chopper when I remember to pull it out. But I got mine years before seeing an infomercial on it.

                                                                              1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                I love my Slap Chop. I use it for garlic.

                                                                            2. i remember my dad buying the RONCO thing that would scramble an egg in the shell...

                                                                              but i havent been persuaded to buy anything off tv..
                                                                              nowaday with the 'net the stuff thats crap gets reported as such pretty quick...

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: srsone

                                                                                My spousal equivalent was perhaps the egg scrambler's biggest fan. After his second one went belly up, and after trying and failing to find a third, he has sullenly resorted to using my Braun hand mixer, which he says is not nearly as effective at scrambling eggs. So if your dad is done with his, tell him I can give it a very good home.

                                                                                1. re: small h

                                                                                  god i dont know what happened to it...that was back in the 70's....

                                                                                  i do remember it actually working..

                                                                                  and my oster blender does the job just fine..

                                                                                  1. re: srsone

                                                                                    Ah, well. We will muddle through somehow. I scramble eggs with a fork, myself.

                                                                                2. re: srsone

                                                                                  Oh my that had me thinking of that egg thing Bridget Jones' mother was selling in the movie.

                                                                                3. I received a set of SHAMWOW's (as a Valentine's Day gift, no less). haha. There is no WOW with those Shammies... crap product, for sure.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: The Oracle

                                                                                    WOW . . .nothing says romance like a cleaning rag. Please tell me this gifter is now an ex?

                                                                                    1. re: gaffk

                                                                                      haha - nah, I ended up marrying him. :)

                                                                                      We'd been joking about it so much, and I really did want to try it's amazing soaking powers, it was a 'perfect' gift (so to speak)... it was really too bad they were such a piece of junk!

                                                                                    2. re: The Oracle

                                                                                      My friend highly highly recommended the shamwow, and so I bought it. I was horribly disappointed!

                                                                                    3. Our Jack La Lane Power Juicer classic is still going strong!

                                                                                      1. I came REALLY close to buying the "EZ Cracker" - the egg cracker that cracks eggs perfectly.... but I couldn't bring myself to do it!

                                                                                        1. My oldest son has had his George Forman Grill since his college days--almost eight years now. Loves it. Cooks with it most of the time.
                                                                                          My daughter and I both have snuggies. She loves her. I don't like it too much because I'm extremely clumsy and I'm always falling over it when I get off the sofa.
                                                                                          I've been intrigued for some time by the magic bullet but have never bothered to get one.

                                                                                          1. Infomercials Thru The Ages
                                                                                            First generation infomercials told you how much the item cost.

                                                                                            Second generation infomercials tells you how many "EASY payments of only..." you have to make.

                                                                                            The third generation is now, "Try it for 30 days for only..." without telling you anywhere the total cost. Sometimes even their Web sites don't tell you much the item actually costs.

                                                                                            I love watching infomercials and listen for the "hooks." My favorites are: "If I can do it, *anyone* can do it." "You know I wouldn't lie to you." and "I'm the biggest skeptic in the world, and I'm here to tell you this really works." It's amazing how often these come up.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                              The hook today is buy one - get the second one free. People justify the purchase by thinking they are being generous; they buy it as something they can give away as a gift, and then keep one for themselves.

                                                                                              1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                                "Just pay shipping & handling."

                                                                                                What they don't tell you is the s&h more than covers the cost of the item plus the s&h, so not only are they making money on both items, but the first $19.99 is pure profit. I always suspected this, but it was confirmed on a CNBC program on infomercials.

                                                                                                Think about it. If the s&h on that extra Snuggie is only $1 more than the cost of the item plus the s&h, they've made millions just on that extra dollar. (Actually, it's $2, because the s&h on the first one also results in a dollar profit, too.) So each Snuggie sold from the infomerecial is about $22 profit.

                                                                                              1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                                Yes, it was so nice of them to condense this whole thread for us.

                                                                                              2. I like this for steaming whole onions in the microwave...


                                                                                                1. The Classic One from Firesign Theatre:

                                                                                                  "Yes, you all recognise the "Saloon Song" from the "Floating Prince" by Stein, now here's the lilting revenge duet "El Vino Confuso" --isn't that beautiful, it's by a great Italian composer. He's dead now but lives on in HiFi Stereo on this 12 inch record album of 40 Great Unclaimed Melodies. Yes, friends if you were to go into a record store and ask for them they would think you were crazy.

                                                                                                  Hello, I'm Don G. Ovoni and I'm proud to speak for the musical heritage surplus club of Hong Kong. Wouldn't you like to raise the level of your home? Bring your family closer together around the HiFi? Listening to such immoral classics as "Bidet the Fountain" or "The Dukes Duet" from Il Schizofreno? Yes, and if you act now my friend, we will include at absolutely no cost to anyone this collection of 40 familiar sound effects.
                                                                                                  Well friends they're all yours. If you act in time this 3 record boxed set bonanza of timeless big bad hymns, titles like "In a Persian Melon" "My Spanish Suitcase" "The Happy Plunderer" "Waltz for three people" and "The Hawaian Hallucination Song". A cultural landslide to fill your home entertainment center. write now to this address:
                                                                                                  Chinese Surplus Music Deal
                                                                                                  Hollywood Box 4155 California

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                    Another Firehead!!

                                                                                                    brought to you by Ralph Spoilsport Motors, here in the lovely city of Emphysema.

                                                                                                    And inside, it's delicious!

                                                                                                  2. We own the Nutri-Bullet (purchased from Target instead of online). We use it daily. Works fabulously.

                                                                                                    1. My mother use to purchase several of these items as gifts for me. While I would normally scoff at them there have been a few that I truly enjoyed.

                                                                                                      I don't know if they were actual ginsu knives, but I do have a couple of the "surgical steel" blade knives that are second to none for delicate slicing such as paper thin tomato slices.

                                                                                                      I LOVE my slap chop, I can slap chop elephant garlic into a creamy like paste..........I love it, my only complaint is that is is too small for a lot of practical uses for me.

                                                                                                      There was also the Viola Kitchen Chopper I used for years. I have poor chopping/knife skills so this was a life saver, especially for consistency of cuts.

                                                                                                      The magic bullet, a great little blender. Again a little too small for many practical uses for my cooking in large quantity but it works very well.

                                                                                                      1. The only thing I've ever purchased from an infomercial is the original Borner slicer about 30 years ago (it's marked Made in W. Germany). It still does the job and I recommend it everytime someone is looking for suggestions for an inexpensive mandoline type slicer. Available on Amazon.

                                                                                                        1. I got a kick out of the Cosby Show episode in which Claire
                                                                                                          stops an enthusiastic Cliff from succumbing to the siren song of yet another infomercial, naming all the things in the cabinet devoted to such follies. He's got his pen and open checkbook in his lap, eyes glued to the TV. As the announcer spiels about "You'd expect to pay $99 for this blah blah", Cliff keeps chanting "19.95...19.95..."

                                                                                                          I've often been tempted, but never fallen for an infomercial. I look up the online reviews, which are always bad, or detail fulfillment/refund problems. I was once gifted with a microwave pasta cooker/strainer but never used it, and chucked it after reading that when heated in the microwave, the made-in-China plastic issued sickening fumes. It was, if memory serves, the kind of plastic that is considered unsafe in toys for children and pets.

                                                                                                          1. Years ago I used to live with my best friend and we were both obsessed with infomercials, but never actually bought anything. Until....

                                                                                                            One day he bought himself a magic bullet, and got me one of those plastic jars that is supposed to cook pasta, rice and all manner of other things that you'd usually boil water to cook. You were supposed to put the pasta in the tube, fill it up with boiling water, then screw on a top and leave it for a set period of time.

                                                                                                            The magic bullet - we were at university. We used it exclusively for blended frozen drinks. It was great for that.

                                                                                                            The pasta tube was crap. But I had fun trying it out!

                                                                                                            1. Merely by reading the thread title I thought of the 1990 movie "Total Recall."