Sunday, December 18, 2011

Stupid Polls and Studies

If you're a journalist, one way to get "fresh" story ideas is from polls and studies. My inbox (and that of my colleagues') has been filling up lately with polls and studies that are, well, stupid. Here are a few:

Really? Really? The Environmental Working Group came up with the stunning conclusion that kids' cereal has more sugar than cookies and snack foods. Shocking, I tell you. They cite brands like Kellogg's Honey Smacks (ya know, the one we grew up with called SUGAR Smacks). Other problems: not enough whole grain. Really? A few of the 10 worst children's cereals (you're not going to believe this) include Kellogg's Fruit Loops Marshmallows, Kellogg's Smorz, and Quaker Captain Crunch (both original and berry). Of course the 10 healthiest cereals sounds so...yummy. They include: Ambrosial Granola, Go Raw and Grandy Oats. Now, I must go donate money to keep up the good work of the Environmental Working Group so they can publish more ground-breaking health research.

than a holiday party. Again, knock me over with a feather. When asked what holiday incentive people want this year, 72% polled would rather have a CASH BONUS. In this economy? Who are they kidding? Shockingly, 62% would go for a salary raise. Only 4% would rather party on (with an open bar).

A nationwide survey by Citibank reveals that the topic mothers think about daily is MONEY, followed by parenting. In this economy? Mothers are worried about money? The earth-shattering study also revealed that after having a baby, moms got more involved in the family finances. Stop the presses! They now have to think about college funds and life insurance. After having a baby, moms spend LESS MONEY ON THEMSELVES and use coupons and deals more often. Wait - that gives me a "fresh" story idea for a parenting magazine. Bet they haven't heard of this before.

90% of Americans think it's okay for a person to have a nativity scene in their own personal yard. OMG! We're talking someone featuring baby Jesus and his parents in the yard on which they personally pay their taxes. I'm all for church/state separation, and I'm no fan of nativity scenes on public property. But on your own private property? You go for it! What a waste of polling money.

In what I assume is the PR agency for Google, I got a press release mentioning the release of the 2011 Google Zeitgeist, the annual compilation of "the most popular and fastest-rising search terms." While the actual link they gave me was so disappointing I'm not going to publish it here, they did helpfully provide the top 3 list for Google's closely guarded search term data - searches for:

The Most Popular Cartoon Characters:
1. Mickey Mouse
2. Lion King
3. Hello Kitty

The Most Popular Pets
1. Dogs
2. Puppies
3. Cats

And in other news...the Pope is Catholic!

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Review: the Snapi

After posting about the Snapi, the company's marketing person contacted me and offered me a sample, as trying it might change my mind. In the interest of fairness, I said yes.

This is not a photo of me using the Snapi.

The kids were very excited about the Snapi. Here's why:
-it looks like a clam and my daughter is a budding marine biologist
-it's fun to open and close
-it looks like a toy
-you can close it and open it using separate buttons
-you can use it to pinch your sibling's arm and clothing

-It sometimes gets stuck (open or closed) when you're using it.
-It doesn't always stay closed in the drawer, even though it has a little button to push to keep it closed. That means it pops open in the drawer, making the drawer difficult to close.
-Because of the fangs at the end, it's impossible to pick up small items, like pomegranate seeds, finely diced onions, beans and other things that I put in my salad. I had to find another tool to get those out.
-If you don't put it in the dishwasher (it's dishwasher-safe on the top shelf), it's messy to clean - especially with blue cheese chunks sticking on all the fangs (yes, I also put blue cheese in my salad, and that doesn't get goopy on the salad servers, but does on the Snapi)
-it fell over in the salad bowl, getting dressing on the outside of it.

Conclusion: it's cute, but I would not buy one for myself or anyone else. Unless maybe the person only had one arm and really needed a tool to pick up food, and didn't like using tongs. I'll try it on the next pasta dish I make, but I may give it to my marine biologist daughter as a toy.

Do you have a stupid product you'd like me to review? Send me an email at mystupidproducts AT gmail DOT com.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stupid Product: Ugly Christmas Sweaters

I've been sheltered all my life, and have never been invited to an "ugly Christmas sweater" party. I know, it's very sad. Those parties I have been invited to, where you have to get all dressed up in little black dresses and wear diamond jewelry, are so pathetic!

So forgive me for not knowing that there were websites that sell said ugly Christmas sweaters. Now I can buy one. Like this, for $50 plus shipping:

Or this one!

Not to discriminate, here's one for another major winter holiday - not sure why it costs $5 more than the featured Christmas sweaters.

They also sell adorable hats, like this, for $25:

The good news is that the sellers do have a sense of humor, and they do send one sweater for every one sold, to kids in need. Hopefully they don't send these awful ones, though.

Thanks to Leah at Suddenly Frugal and Philly on the Cheap for the tip. Like Stupid Products? Join us on Facebook and sign up for emailed posts so you never miss any!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stupid Product: Air Sickness Bags that Double as Gift Bags

Did you know that instead of stealing barf bags from your airplane flight (or using a Ziploc bag inside a cheap brown paper bag), you can pay $2 each for them at the Barf Boutique?

No more worries about Junior barfing at the side of the road. Do it in the comfort of your car with a $2 decorated leak-resistant barf bag. Get the "Little Traveler Variety Pack" with "hand-painted watercolor illustrations" such as airplanes, helicopters, cars and boats (the most likely places you'll barf) or just stick with one design. They're made with recycled paper!

The best part: "kids air sickness bags that double as adorable gift and party bags." No kidding! Just make sure you don't mix up the contents or you'll never be invited back to that kids' party again! Plus, who doesn't want a bag with a label that says the "Barf Boutique" on it. Come to think of it, that might be a hit with my 8 year old son, but it would have to have a nasty picture to match, not a cute airplane.

Buy in bulk (100 for $55) or with designs (5 for $10).

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Stupid Products: The Snapi

Having just visited my friend who gave birth a month ago, I can appreciate the need to do things with one hand. So I took a look at the Snapi.

The concept is a good one: a one-handed food scooper. But have you heard of tongs or a spoon? Aren't they one-handed as well?

Wouldn't a spoon work well here to scoop up some pasta??

Are tongs so inappropriate in this situation?

They say the Snapi can be used at buffets, salad bars, catering and other uses. When I go to a buffet, though, it's usually pretty easy to grab the utensil in the container. What if the Snapi fell over? Then it would be goopy on one side. It would sit like a clam shell immersed in sauce. And though buffet serving utensils are rarely fancy looking, the Snappi is made of plastic, which just brings it down a notch.

In case you're wondering, Snapi retails for $6.95.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Stupid Product: Parking Pal Magnets

These Parking Pal magnets are sold to keep your kids safe in the parking lot. You're supposed to teach your kids to "high five" the magnet when you're loading or unloading the car. Let me say I hesitated to post this as a Stupid Product, because if it indeed saves kids from running into the parking lot, then it can't be stupid. And we all know that kids are motivated by things that seem silly to adults. Like high fiving a magnet.

But can't you teach your kids to high five the gas tank cover? Or the window? That doesn't cost $7.99 plus shipping - it's free.

Okay, feel free to send me hate mail now.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Stupid Product: My Airport Butler

I just returned from two different plane trips with the kids, so I looked at this press release item with interest:

It's called "My Airport Butler." It's a $20 "instant table top surface wherever you travel. How many times have you been stuck at the airport if your flight is delayed or cancelled, your hands are full and you have nowhere to put your coffee, food, newspaper, laptop or other devices?" The website admonishes you "DON'T PUT YOUR COFFEE ON THE FLOOR!!!!!!" Really? That's what I did and it worked out just fine. As for that deck of cards we were playing, I just put my computer case on my lap, and the kids and I had a FREE flat surface to use. And your newspaper? What's wrong with on your lap, in your carry-on, or just next to you?

Would you trust your lunch on this? Maybe if it was in a bag and you weren't eating it, but does this look stable enough to hold more than a cell phone?

If you like that one, you might want to buy "My Smart Snacker." That way, when you're driving, you can hold your drink AND Cheetos at the same time.

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Friday, September 9, 2011

How not to write a press release

Here's an example of how not to write a press release - the band name (and identifying words) have been changed to protect the guilty. All spacing and punctuation is from the press release:

Hello Writers of  Frisco Kids
The Giraffe Necks will be playing (branch) Library August 28th at 3:00 pm

 THE GIRAFFE NECKS, San Francisco's giraffe-faced pop stars playing their own combination of hard-rocking kid’s hits and favorites from the 60's, 70's, and 80's.
The catchy tunes, giraffe fun, and kooky kids will spiral into an interactive sing along dance party for all ages.

  Here is Our first Official Video     (Editor note: I deleted the link because the video was pretty bad)  

 We would appreciate any promotion you could give before our show next Sunday.
 If you would like an exclusive story about the colorful past of The Giraffe Necks.
I would be glad to give you an interview .
   Attached is my personal Bio That brags about my personal past and where I am at now.
 It needs to be updated and focus on The Giraffe Necks.  
          I hope to hear from you.
                    Thank you for your time .
                                                      (band leader name)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Stupid Product: Rock Paper Scissors Card Game

When I came across the Rock Paper Scissors card game while on vacation (it was one of the few game options in the condo-rental closet), I thought there had to be a catch. Tell me this game does more than what you can easily do with your hands. Especially since you have to buy it.


The description from the card maker: "here's the fast & fun CARD VERSION of the game kids have played for generations. Each player lays down a card. If your card beats your opponent's card, you take it. When all cards have been played, the player who has collected the most cards wins the game!!"

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stupid Press Release: Back to School with Jennie Garth

I may be a retro Beverly Hills, 90210 fan (did you know that Jack Wagner and Heather Locklear are engaged?). But that doesn't mean I care what Jennie Garth and her daughters' favorite "must have back-to-school" items are.

Is Jennie Garth that desperate for cash that she and her kids have to dress up like dorks to endorse Hello Kitty and Cheerios?

They've been paid (how much? I'd like to know) to release "exclusively to online shopping guide" her "kids''" list of BMX bikes, sneakers, and lunch containers. They got the exclusive list? Because, really, NO OTHER WEBSITE CARES WHAT JENNIE GARTH BUYS.

And, she's been a member of ThisNext since August 25, 2011. Wow - so dedicated to the website she is, that her joining date coincides with the press release! The campaign is successful so far. Since sending out this press release, THREE people are now following this trendsetting family, whose daughters also like sparkly nail polish and headbands.

Her daughters are apparently "represented" throughout the list "with commentary on each explaining exactly why they LOVE each and every toy/accessory/school fashion." Uh, no that would be Jennie doing the explaining. She provides really helpful commentary like, "our family loves to bike and when the kids need a little after school exercise, myself and Peter (sic) take them on bike rides around our neighborhood." Wow - I really should buy the brand of bike she endorses!

Oh - and the press release states that her 13 year old daughter and 5 year old daughter are both named Fiona.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Stupid Product: Skincare for 6 Year Olds

Does your 6 year old need her own skincare line? Apparently JOON thinks she does.
According to JOON, girls ages 6-12 are an untapped market, with tweens spending $500 million a year of their own allowance on beauty products. I can see many tweens using their babysitting money on a bottle of $10 Happy Face Wash.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Stupid Product: Anti-Monster Dust

I know what it's like when a child is afraid of monsters. My daughter used to have nightmares about spiders crawling all over her room. It kept her up at night. She even slept on the bathroom floor a few times. Did we spend $5 (plus shipping) for a salt shaker full of "100% natural anti-boogeyman powder" to make them go away? No. We used our imagination and stomped out all the fake spiders every night before going to bed.

It worked, and it was FREE.

Here's an $8 refill of the stuff you are going to have to vacuum off your floor, and wash out of your child's clothing and bedding. You get to pay for it and then clean it up!

The makers of Shoo! Monster Dust want you to believe it's "economically priced from just $5 to $20" so it's "easy and affordable to give children peace of mind." Or you can just use your imagination - which is FREE and doesn't need vacuuming.

And the best part: "Not only does Monster Dust keep the boogie man's a GREAT AFTER BATH POWDER as well, with its pepperminty fragrance."


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Stupid Press Release: Luxury Condoms

What is a condom? It's a device to keep women from getting pregnant and to keep men and women from spreading/contracting diseases.

So why is a French company (founded by "two French aristocrats") trying to make their condom out to be "a hot new fashion accessory for men" and "the first eco-friendly condom" in the U.S.? Well, we know the answer (and it has to do with dollar signs and Euros).

As one founder said on the website: "Condoms protect everyone from disease, ours protect from tackiness." Okay, at least they have a sense of humor. If indeed it was meant as humor. I'm not sure it was. My travel writer colleagues who got the press release all found it funny.

The press release touts such uses of these particular condoms as (please note that the grammar is all their own; next time maybe they'll hire a native English speaker to do the writing):
-Gentleman being able to use the condom as a wonderful turning point in a relationship when its (sic) time to have sex
-Gentleman being able to present the condom to their wives (one man has multiple wives? in the U.S.?) after having a baby when both are ready to have sex once again.
(Yeah, that's exactly what I want from my husband after having a baby. I'm tired, I have a baby attached to me 24 hours a day, and now I get a lovely box of condoms when I'd rather have a box from Tiffany's.)
-The box is unique and resembles that which you would ind (sic) a pair of high end cufflinks inside.
(Uh, yeah, but the box still says CONDOM on the top)

According to their website, this is what make these condoms different:
"Unlike an ordinary condom, The Original Condom serves for purposes to protect, our humanity and our planet by working with NGOs that fight against the AIDS pandemic, and by offsetting carbon emissions during the production process as part of new treeplant projects.  
"Our messagge (sic) is: Safe sex with elegance, chic and ecoaware."

I don't know about you, but do I want to have ecoaware sex? Do I buy a condom to protect the world? No.

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Stupid Product: Baby Belly Stickers

Would you be seen in public with this sticker on your shirt? (well, if you had a belly but no baby in it, you certainly wouldn't, but that's another story).

Guess how far along this pregnant woman is? No need to ask. Just look at her belly.

Okay, so they do tout them for use in documenting your pregnancy with photographs. Including the sticker at the end that says "Ready or I come." I have no doubt some women find these $15 stickers incredible endearing. They would put a whole scrapbook together with the photos - and the actual used sticker too. Maybe they would even pose nude for photos, baring only the sticker. Those women probably also have t-shirts that say "I'm with stupid" - and have the arrow pointing to their spouse.

If they really want their stickers to take off, perhaps they could add a post-birth set. As in "32 pounds to go" - to inspire the women publicly to lose the baby weight. Moms can document that in their baby album as well. (If you use my idea, Sticky Bellies, you owe me an idea fee).

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