Category Archives: commercials

And the point would be…

There I am Sunday morning watching TV and one of those commercials for a kitchen gadget came on. This one is for Pasta Express which promises to cook your pasta in just minutes! As always, this too can be yours for only $19.95.

Well, I’m watching the commercial and I don’t get why anyone would pay $20 for a monofunctional piece of plastic crap. Their instructions are interesting (if you’re watching the commercial “elapsed time 8 minutes” flashes briefly). First of all you have to boil water. Then you pour the water into this cylinder with the pasta and wait 7-10 minutes. Then you upend the thing over the sink and drain the pasta. Let’s review how you make pasta in a pot–the old fashioned way: you boil water. You put the pasta into the pot. You wait 7-10 minutes depending on the cooking time. Then you either pour it into a colander or you lift out the insert from your stock pot and drain.

How exactly is this gadget an improvement?

At the same time, I have something of a soft spot in my heart for these intrepid inventors. Every summer, my family would go to the county fair. My dad used to love going into the building where the vendors would be hawking these gadgets. There they’d be throwing spaghetti sauce on tile samples and mopping it up. There was the man who used a stick blender (back before they were considered an essential kitchen tool) to make whipped cream out of skim milk or peanut butter from a handful of peanuts. I remember how years later I invested in one by Cuisinart and Dad was convinced I’d be taken.

Seen: Busting Out and the 40-Year-Old Virgin. The former is a documentary–I’ll link to the review when that’s up. The latter was a freebee that I wouldn’t have bothered with otherwise. The first half is your typical moronic aging jock movie, but it morphed into something with actual depth by the end.

Once you pop, you can’t stop?

Not too long ago, I was watching an episode of The Guiding Light and out of nowhere a character offers another character Pringles (holding the can so that the logo clearly visible and naming the product). The recipient likes the potato chips and comments that he can’t seem to stop eating them. Whereupon, yet another character laughs and remarks, “once you pop, you can’t stop.”

It used to be that shows went out of their way not to mention any brand names. Now it seems every time I turn on the TV there’s Tony Soprano talking about the safety of SUVs or some starving reality show contestant enthusing about Mountain Dew. I didn’t mind so much when it was just visuals, but I hate how product placement is now entering into the plots of my shows.

I think we have the VCR and services like TiVo and Replay TV to blame. Since people either fastforward thru or skip over commercials entirely, advertisers have had to get sneakier. Personally, I’d rather watch the commercial, knowing that it was a commercial, then to put up with this garbage.