My bizarre odyssey into the wacky world of the infomercial products:
There I was, parked in front of the TV set at 2:30 in the morning, eating a Suzy Q and watching a rerun of WKRP in Cincinnati, when an infomercial about a little egg-like device that scrapes away foot calluses cut in. I was simultaneously engrossed and grossed out by the image of discarded foot shavings, and then a thought crossed my mind: I need a PedEgg! Then another: I don’t think I can finish my Suzy Q.
Thus began my bizarre odyssey into the wonderful, wacky, weird, “What the …?” world of infomercial products—the official domain of the “Why didn’t I think of that?” product. After maxing out my credit card on stuff that my wife politely dubbed questionable, I discovered that some were shoddy, some were enticing but just missed the mark, and others? Well, simply put, they were brilliant!
To make sure you know which is which, Reader’s Digest staffers joined me in testing and rating As Seen on TV products, ranking them on the following scale:
★ Don’t waste your money
★★ Works, sort of
★★★ Good enough to buy
★★★★ Overnight delivery!
So don’t reach for that phone until you’ve read what we have to say.
PediPawsIllustration: David Goldin for Reader’s Digest, Photograph: Jeremy Lips for Reader’s Digest
What the company says: “The fast, easy, gentle” way to trim your pet’s nails. PediPaws is a battery-operated, motorized emery board that sands down puppy’s nails “without the pain caused by traditional nail clippers.”
What we say: Some infomercial products work great, but it seems that the only thing PediPaws is great at is scaring your pet—the noisy motor frightened every dog we used it on. “My older dog wouldn’t let me near him with it,” said one pet owner. Another wasn’t too embarrassed to admit that her dog’s a screamer, and “she yelped when I tried it on her.” Those dogs are all a bunch of wusses, charged a third pet owner, who swears by PediPaws. “My dog put up a fuss at first,” she conceded, “but then gave up when I said, ‘Be a good girl if you want a treat.’ Food motivates her.” (With so many different product reviews, here’s how to spot a fake one.)