The granddaddy of consumer protection, Consumer Reports, put a bunch of infomercial products to the test.
Slap Chop. The Claim: By slapping this gadget with your palm, you can “dice, chop, and mince in seconds” and remove skins from onions and garlic. Cost: About $20. The Check: CR slapped mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, chocolate, almonds, and other foods. Bottom Line: No high fives. It chopped unevenly. Harder foods needed about 20 slaps and tended to get trapped in the blades. Garlic peels came off in five slaps, onion skins were only partially separated after 10.
Snuggie. The Claim: “The Snuggie blanket keeps you totally warm,” and is made of “ultrasoft, luxurious fleece.” Cost: $19.95 for two. The Check: CR testers put Snuggies through 10 wash-and-dry cycles and asked 11 staffers to wear and comment. Bottom Line: The Snuggie was so far from snug that several staffers had trouble walking. When washed it sheds. Each time CR laundered two Snuggies, they removed a sandwich bag worth of lint from the dryer.
PedEgg. The Claim: The foot file removes calluses and dead skin to “make your feet feel smooth and healthy with NO MESS!” Cost: About $10. The Check: Twenty-six women and three men with rough, calloused feet tried a PedEgg on one foot and a pumice stone on the other. They used each product once, rubbing PedEgg on dry skin and the stone on wet skin. Bottom Line: Crack open a PedEgg. It was very good at removing callouses and good with dry skin.
Grease Bullet. The Claim: “Just fill your sink with hot water, drop in the Grease Bullet, and soak your toughest baked-on cookware, no more scrubbing!” Cost: $10 for 12 bullets. The Check: CR tested it on glass, ceramic, stainless-steel, aluminum, and porcelain-coated cookware in which testers baked on a thin layer of beef broth and “monster mash,” an evil mix of cherry pie filling, tomato purée, egg yolks, lard, and cheese. Bottom Line: The Bullet is no bull’s eye, but it could be worth a shot. It did a reasonable job with most residues if the cookware soaked for the recommended half hour. But soaking cookware overnight in hot water and dish detergent would also aid cleanup.
ShamWow. The Claim: “Like a chamois, a towel, a sponge, works wet or dry, holds 12 times its weight in liquid.” Cost: Four 19½x23½-inch towels and four 15×15-inch towels cost $19.95. The Check: CR testers dunked ShamWows in water, soda, and milk until each could hold no more liquid and the small ones to see if they could slurp up as much water, milk and used motor oil as sponges. Bottom Line: CR wasn’t wowed. ShamWow soaked up only 10 times its weight in water or soda and usually 12 times its weight in milk. If testers used a damp ShamWow, they needed another cloth to wipe remaining droplets.
Question: What sold-on-TV products do you own? How do they work?