As Seen on TV Reviews: What Not to Buy

We tested the ten most tempting household helpers: read up before you put your money down.

By Perri O. Blumberg
Also in Reader's Digest Magazine January 2014
Carolyn Ridsdale

It was one of those nights...

Entranced by infomercials, I 1-800-ed my way through a slew of products. As the boons of As Seen On TV utopia found their way to my doorstep, I had my Reader’s Digest colleagues test’ em, then review and grade them. Behold, as we separate the scams from the saviors for these ten As Seen On TV products we all secretly want.

Dan Roberts for Reader's Digest

The EZ Cracker

Company says: If your grandma threatened to disown you over an 
ill-fated shell shard in her treasured chocolate cake recipe, fear no more! Be they raw or hard-boiled, you can “crack eggs without the mess” with this handheld contraption, and an attachment makes separating yolks from whites a breeze.

We say: One delighted reviewer insisted that the EZ Cracker revolutionized her life: “It worked seamlessly … the satisfying feel of shattering eggshells became addicting. In mere seconds, I had EZ cracked a dozen.” A less enthused egg breaker said, “Umm … doesn’t this tool require the same amount of dexterity as cracking eggs manually? A total waste of utensil space.” Tiebreaking perk: “It keeps your hands clean!”

Score: 3/4 (DO waste your money). $9.95 + $6.95 S&H

Watch our review:

Dan Roberts for Reader's Digest

The Twist n Clip

Company says: “The best way for your hair to stay up all day.” This 
patented clip adjusts for any type of hair as you swirl and twirl your strands into stylish updos. Just “grab your hair into a ponytail, twist, and slide the Twist n Clip through your hair like a giant bobby pin, and then lock it like a safety pin.” Hello, glamour! Goodbye, gross, stringy hair!

We say: “If you have more than ten strands of hair on your head, this product is useless.” Thick-haired ladies further lamented, “All this did was give me a good laugh!”

Score: 0.5/4 (Practically a gag gift). $9.95 + $6.95 S&H

Watch our review:

Dan Roberts for Reader's Digest

The Stone Wave Microwave Cooker

Company says: This “handmade nonstick ceramic stoneware” uses a special “steam-release chimney” to cook “gourmet foods right in your microwave.” You don’t have to be Julia Child, because the gizmo comes with five-minute recipes “so quick and easy, anyone can cook like a pro!”

We say: “I love how quickly and evenly it cooks omelets!” raved one egg head. Another liked that the cooker was “an elegant addition to a dinner party spread” that “didn’t reveal my secret to guests!” (Psst, she’s a microwaver! Secret’s out!) And move over, Joy of Cooking—the accompanying recipe book with “dishes from shrimp scampi to baked apple crisp” also got high marks.

Score: 4/4 (Order overnight!). $10 + $6.99 S&H

Watch our review:

Dan Roberts for Reader's Digest

The NutriBullet

Company says: Blender? Pfft. Unlike “everyday juicers and blenders,” the “superfood nutrition extractor completely breaks down ingredients into their most nutritious, easily absorbed state.”

We say:
Blenders, beware! “An appliance hasn’t changed my life 
this drastically since I traded in my Walkman for an iPod!” raved one fawning foodie. Others loved the “blend-and-go cups” and the “easy cleanup.” One smoothie aficionado enthused, “It even ground flaxseed and walnuts to dust!” The NutriBullet was “too expensive” for some, but others thought the price was justified because the appliance “reduced smoothie-making from several minutes to 30 seconds!” One note to manufacturers: “Can’t they make these things quieter? It sounded like a Texas Chainsaw Massacre!”

4/4 (Order overnight!). $119.94, free S&H

Dan Roberts for Reader's Digest

The Pocket Hose

Company says: It’s the portable garden hose “that fits in your pocket” and has a powerful spray. Order today, and “say goodbye to those old-fashioned giant hoses that become a tangled mess.”

We say: “I had a hard time keeping it screwed onto my outdoor faucet without the nozzle leaking,” complained one green-thumbed tester. “Yeah, it leaked,” said a soaked farmer. “But I like the space it saved.” The final verdict: If your yard is cramped “and you like getting wet, this hose is for you.”

Score: 1.5/4 (Don't waste your money). $12.99 + $7.99 S&H

Carolyn Ridsdale

The PlateTopper

Company says: “Transform your plates into airtight containers” with these resealable suction cups that fit over your dishes and keep your food fresh for days.

We say: While some testers didn’t see how it was any better than a 
regular storage container or plastic wrap, convenience addicts liked that they “didn’t have to waste plastic and that the suction feature kept my meals fresh.” Another possible use: emergency umbrella.

Score: 4/4 (Order overnight!). $9.99 + $6.99 S&H

Carolyn Ridsdale for Reader's Digest

Slimming Sauna Shorts

Company says: 
Slap on this Velcro-secured compression garment if you want “shapelier buttocks.” The shorts “retain body heat for fast trimming 
of your waist, hips, and thighs.”

We say:
“I felt like I was wearing a diaper,” said a staffer who did not care for the “swish-swish-swish noise” that the shorts made as he moved his “neoprene-enrobed buttocks” from the couch to the fridge. Another tester found the shorts “comfortable enough” and motivational: “Just wearing them made me embrace the day like a Tough Mudder champ.”

1.5/4 (Don't waste your money). $19.95 + $6.95 S&H

Courtesy of TeleBrands Corp.

The Hurricane 360° Spin Mop

Company says: “Clean floors in one simple step—no harsh detergents needed. Thousands of microfiber mop strands attract dirt, grime, and liquids without drips, cleaning and drying floors in half the time.” When you’re finished, place the “Spin Mop in the Spin Bucket, pump the handle, and watch the mophead spin at over 1,000 rotations per minute,” cleaning the mop and transferring the dirt to the bucket.

We say:
“It’s perfect for everyday cleaning,” gushed one tester. “In minutes, I can clean the entire kitchen floor, rinse the mop, clean the living room, rinse, hallways, rinse … and be done.” (Someone cast her in a commercial!) Green cleaners also liked that the mop pad was reusable: “I’m not cluttering landfills with paper towels and pads.”

4/4 (Order overnight!). $39.98 + $12.99 S&H

Dan Roberts for Reader's Digest

The Lint Lizard

Company says: “Clear out dryer-clogging lint at its source! Attach the Lint Lizard to the end of your vacuum cleaner, and its nozzle reaches easily into your lint catcher and even your dryer vent outside.” What’s more, “keeping your dryer free of lint maximizes energy efficiency” and “saves money.”

We say:
We’re choking on the fluff! If the gadget’s only purpose is to suck up lint, “then it probably shouldn’t be entirely useless at it.” In the end, “I had to pull out lint the old-fashioned way—by sticking my hand in there.”

0/4 (Need we say more?). $10.99 + $6.99 S&H

Dan Roberts for Reader's Digest

The Ove' Glove

Company says: “Ever wished you could use all five fingers when 
removing pans from the oven? Well, now you can,” claim the gods of heat resistance. “Made from the same material as a firefighter’s clothing,” the ‘Ove’ Glove can withstand temperatures of up to 540°F.

We say:
“Way more convenient than a pot holder,” and “the glove allowed flexibility that oven mitts don’t give you.” While some praised the glove as “durable” and “easy to use,” others compared using it with “wearing winter mittens that felt like they were rapidly heating up.”

3/4 (DO waste your money!). $19.95 + $6.95 S&H

Keep the laughs coming every week!

Get our hilarious Funny Reads newsletter

Sending Message
how we use your e-mail