Believe it or not, good infomercial products do exist—products that are not rip-offs and that don’t break when you take them out of the packaging or appear completely different from what you saw on late-night TV.
But here’s the rub: just because it’s a good product, doesn’t mean the company soliciting orders via TV will get the gizmo to you on time, replace it when it breaks, refund your money as promised, and resist the temptation to charge your credit card multiple times. So before buying any infomercial product, please, please, please check out online reviews and find a place to buy it that has a reputable return policy, such as Amazon or Target.
That said—drum roll please—these ten products actually do what they claim to do. Not that they don’t get the occasional bad review. But in general, a large batch of consumers has weighed in and the verdict on these products is positive.
Anything Chia has a retro-camp quality that’s a plus with any infomercial product. But this member of the Chia family purports an actual purpose: it provides grass that’s safe for your cat to eat. Reviewers say their cats love it—check out this YouTube video for proof—and that it makes them less likely to destroy houseplants. Take note: cats will generally puke after eating any type of grass or houseplant and the Chia’s sweet oats and wheat grass combo is no exception.
Personal hygiene is a huge category for infomercial products. Because all people are different, it’s hard to create a product that works for everyone. Proactiv, for example, zaps pimples on some, but ignores them on others. The Ped Egg draws nearly universal praise for removing dry skin on feet, despite the high gross-out factor. A word of warning, though: this product is for people with seriously dry feet. If you only have mildly dry skin, you might not see such a satisfying result.
You can really get your scrapbooking on with this jazzy (though pricey) tool. Plan to pay at least $150 on eBay. The Home Shopping Network charges an outrageous $350. Cartridges, cutting pads, and paper drive the cost up even more. Still, it’s a nifty tool for crafters, who also use it for greeting cards, teaching aides, and home decor. It comes with a memory cartridge containing 250 designs and can take your passion—or obsessive compulsion—for scrapbooking to the next level.
This product enables you to cook perfect pasta in the microwave. It’s fast, it’s simple, and it works. It does have its critics, who complain about the pasta tasting less fresh and the tendency for water to boil over. But such criticisms are fewer and further between than with most infomercial products.
With exercise gadgets, simpler is often better. This product, which converts into a bench, two steps of different heights, and an incline, delivers the goods. The Firm has legions of loyal fans and for good reason. By following the three DVDs on a regular basis, you can get a thorough workout without joining a gym or hiring a trainer.
For pull-ups and chin-ups, you’ll get what the infomercial promises as long as you have the right width doorway. Reviewers say thirty inches is best.
This product is free from harsh chemicals and gets good reviews from people who have allergies. Though users praise the product’s ability to tackle soap scum, many cringe at the smell. For getting rid of mildew and cleaning really filthy surfaces, a more powerful chemical product may be in order.
This has the goofy charm we love in infomercial products and, to the surprise of many users, it really does cook food using less energy than a standard oven and without turning the kitchen into a hothouse. Reviewers praise its ability to cook meat and frozen foods, though baked goods don’t turn out as well. Some complain that the product’s estimated cooking times are way off. Watch a regular dude cook a healthy meal to see how it works.
This product promises to free you from the age-old problem of burning your hand when removing a pan from the oven using a flimsy, worn out oven mitt. Okay, the problem may not be on the scale of fixing global warming, but this is where infomercial products have the best opportunity to shine—when they try to solve a tiny, irritating problem. The Ove Glove succeeds. Some complain that it isn’t waterproof and that, eventually, your hand will burn if you hold a hot pan too long. But overall, it’s a winner. This woman gave everyone an Ove Glove for Christmas and the recipients seem happy about it.
According to reviewers, this gizmo cooks whole chickens into a delicious, crispy, golden brown, just like the infomercial promises. Rotisserie-style chicken is a fantastic way to get your protein, feed family members of all ages, and get a healthy meal on the table without a lot of fuss. Some reviewers said their birds required a bit more cooking time to get as brown as the chickens featured on TV.
Infomercial products are often ingenious ideas and the commercials are often more entertaining than a lot of what the TV industry boldly labels situation comedy or drama. Sadly, though, most infomercial products are poorly made. The companies selling the products are often unscrupulous, racking up Better Business Bureau complaints as if they were frequent-flier miles.
But with a little research, you can find products that work and buy them without hassle from reputable stores. And you may even find a solution to one of life’s tiny—but hugely annoying—problems.