The War on Stupid Products Part Two

Candidates for Dumb Product of 2012.

I admit it. I’m a bit obsessed by stupid consumerism. Indulge me—here’s part two of my private war on stupid products and the people who buy them. First case: panko. Panko is Japanese for “bread crumbs from which the crust has been removed,” maybe with a little seasoning thrown in. Make your own seasoned bread crumbs, folks. The recipe is pretty basic: bread crumbs + as much salt as you want + whatever seasonings you like.

Panko is bad enough, but Kraft actually sells packaged bread crumbs. My first thought is that I should say nothing. Do we really want people who would buy bread crumbs swimming in humanity’s gene pool? Let ‘em go broke from buying dumb products and (hopefully) starve before they can perpetuate their inanity. But that’s a tad uncharitable, don’t you think? So my next thought was to offer a PSA (Public Service Announcement) on how to make bread crumbs. Here it is:
                  Step One: Take some bread
                  Step Two: Crumble it. Household hint: It works best if you lightly toast the bread.

“I can’t crumble it small enough,” you protest? PSA # 2: Use a food processor or blender. Lightly toast (or use stale) bread, look for little button that makes machine go “whirrrrr.” Insert bread, secure top, push button, and wait for crumbs to become small enough. Important: Push button again so machine stops going “whirrrr.” Do not put fingers or any other object into machine when it is making “whirrrr” noise. A Krupps coffee grinder works really well also, and you can buy one for about the price of 5 Kraft crumb packages. Think of the luxury of being able to make bread crumbs whenever you like!

Dumb product number 2: Tide detergent pods—tiny little packets that combine laundry soap and softener. Ummm, why? PSA # 3: All grocery stores are required to engage in a practice known as “unit pricing.” It’s the number on the shelf tag that isn’t how much the item costs. It tells you how you are spending per application or consumption of a product. Check out the number beside the pods. Now look at the same number for bottled or boxed detergent/softener. I’ll save you the trouble. This is what you’ll learn: You could send out your laundry cheaper than using pods.   

Some products are just pure head-scratchers, like WhoNu?  This is an Oreo-wannabe cookie that says if you eat three of them—as if!—you’d consume as much fiber as a bowl of oatmeal, as much calcium as eight-ounces of milk, and as much Vitamin C as a cup of blueberries. Best of all, no corn syrup, and no trans fat. Where to begin? How about with what is not said. How about that it’s identical in almost every way to an actual Oreo? Forget trans fat, each product will deliver 160 calories for every three you inhale. Each also delivers 7 grams of total fat, about 150 milligrams of salt, and a whopping 14 grams of sugar.
WhoNu? is basically an Oreo with a multi-vitamin ground into the cookie mix. Yum, yum. Ever chew your daily vitamin? You don’t even want to know what masking agents go into the cookie to avoid that taste! Look—no one eats a chocolate sandwich cookie under the illusion that one has found that long-sought-after substitute for a cup of blueberries! Please introduce me to anyone you know who thinks WhoNu? is health food; I have a double-secret mission for that person. I can’t say more than this: vault, Mitt, Cayman Islands….
 I’ve saved la piece de dumbdance for last. What prompts a person to buy Egg Beaters or their generic equivalents? Unless you’re one of a very, very small group of people that is allergic to yolks, there is but one reason: weight. You are trying to reduce your cholesterol and calorie intake because there are some social situations in which it’s gauche to wear sweat pants and an oversized hoodie hanging lower than your rump. So what’s the new Egg Beaters product we’ve all been waiting for? Ta da!!! Egg Beaters with three cheeses! Satire is dead; you can’t make this stuff up. A scrambled real egg has 199 calories; Egg Beaters just 30. Until you add cheese, of course. Add 106 for Swiss, 113 for cheddar, and 98 for provolone. Do we even want to do the cholesterol math? Good lord! Egg Beaters with three cheeses makes about as much sense is arsenic for a snake bite. The company must think we’re fools. Alas, it’s probably right.

PSA # 4: How to make your own egg beaters. Take an egg (spherical shelled object extruded from a chicken’s fanny). Crack egg into two halves. Shift egg between two shell halves while allowing clear runny substance to dribble into a bowl. Do this until all you have left is the yolk. Toss yolk. What’s left is an egg beater! And, yes, it’s way cheaper to buy real eggs and toss the yolks than to buy packaged egg whites. 

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