Suzanne Tobias

April 7, 2011

As seen on TV, as memorized by children

I was struggling with a batch of brownies, trying to slice them evenly but ending up with jagged pieces and piles of fudgy crumbs.

I was struggling with a batch of brownies, trying to slice them evenly but ending up with jagged pieces and piles of fudgy crumbs.

"You cut, rip and tear," said my son, Jack, shaking his head as he rinsed a dish in the sink. "But your brownies never turn out square."

Funny, I said. Did you just come up with that?

"Need a hand?" he continued, unfazed. "Now there's Perfect Brownie Pan!"

My daughter, stepping into the kitchen for a snack, joined the chorus.

"Just pour in your favorite batter, insert the divider and bake. Yum! Eighteen chocolatey brownies sliced all at once!"

I stared, open-mouthed, pledging to cancel cable. But they went on. And on.

"If you can make ice cubes, you can use Perfect Brownie Pan.... Don't delay! Order today!"

My kids aren't the only infomercial parrots. My friend Denise said she was wiping kitchen counters recently when her 6-year-old daughter recommended the Zorbeez cleaning cloth because it can "pick up and hold over 20 ounces of liquid!"

Other friends report children pitching Grill Daddy, Bacon Wave, Topsy Turvy Tomato Tree, Emery Cat, Wonder Hanger and, of course, Bendaroos.

Truth be told, I was pretty excited when I saw Bendaroos at a drugstore a few years ago, and I bought a pack for Hannah, who was home sick. She played with those waxy sticks all day and into the evening and still thinks the toy's marketers have missed a prime opportunity by not hyping their curative powers.

Last weekend at a local store, the kids spotted a shelf full of "As Seen on TV" items, including the Ab Circle Pro ("the fastest, easiest way to have the flat washboard abs you've always wanted!").

I chuckled as Jack explained how its "unique, friction-free track uses the momentum of gravity to target your entire midsection in a full circular motion." Then I wondered why, with a memory like that, the boy still forgets his lunch box at school and can't get a pair of underwear from the floor to the hamper.

Thankfully, my children don't beg for products, with the exception of a certain Touch N Brush hands-free toothpaste dispenser that I swear I will not buy because SQUEEZING TOOTHPASTE IS NOT THAT HARD!

They deliver infomercial scripts as if reciting poetry, legitimately impressed by the cheese and the passion, like Amy Sedaris on late-night talk shows. It's more impressive than disturbing, more entertaining than irksome.

And sometimes, like last Christmas, the pitches inspire gift ideas. Jack, knowing how chilly I get on winter nights, bought me a lavender Snuggie imprinted with hearts and peace signs. His comment, as I opened it: "You'll laugh, but it's useful."

I did. And it is.

Related content