Wednesday, August 31, 2005

My guide to useless products

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published August 31, 2005

As your average American homemaker, I’m constantly exposed to ads for new products. Many of these products are useful, and, like the Swiffer Wet Jet, have made my life easier.

Some of these products, however, are utterly useless. To help out my fellow homemakers, I have compiled a list of what I think are some of the most completely ridiculous products in this, my “Guide to Completely Ridiculous Products,” or “No, You Don’t Need a Diaper Stacker.”

1) Kraft Easy Mac. Oh, come on. Macaroni and cheese is easy already. I’ve been making it since junior high, and I couldn’t really cook at all until my mid-twenties. I’m the one who, after inviting my future husband over for dinner one night, hid in the closet and called my mom to ask her how to make iced tea.

2) Garlic presses. I saw one in Oprah’s “O” magazine that goes for $70. In my 12 years of marriage, I have pressed garlic exactly zero times. And this was after I learned how to cook.

3) Viagra. Enough said.

4) Stationary walker. It isn’t the product that’s ridiculous; it’s the name. There is an explanation, though. Back in the olden days, you could put your baby in a “walker,” a contraption with wheels that would help him learn to walk. Walkers were deemed dangerous, however, when babies started going for strolls down the basement stairs. So manufacturers took the wheels off and renamed them “stationary walkers.” Which, to me, fits in the same category as “jumbo shrimp” or “underpaid athlete.”

Now, stationary walkers are called “Exersaucers” and babies can spin around in them to their hearts’ content while not actually going anywhere. Despite its previously ridiculous name, I highly recommend this product. Why let your baby’s peas dribble down her chin when she can blow them in a perfect radius around the living room?

5) Ziploc Big Bags. Ziploc has a bag for everything. For snacks. For sandwiches. For frozen chicken thighs. And now, Ziploc has a bag your kitchen sink could fit into. It’s called the Big Bag, and they’re not kidding. The extra-large ones measure 2 feet x 2.7 feet. What are we supposed to put in these things, anyway? Giant Cheetos? A couple thousand grapes? Whatever you use them for, be advised. The box warns not to put the bags in the microwave. Since they haven’t made microwaves that big since 1981, I think we’re safe.

6) Little Debbie Big Snacks. They’re just like regular Debbie cakes, except bigger. That’s right, America. Almost 70 million of us are considered obese by the Center for Disease Control. Less than one-third of us get regular physical activity. So how should we combat this problem? By eliminating junk food? No way! Let’s make it bigger. Maybe we’ll seem smaller by comparison.

That isn’t to say I don’t buy Little Debbie products on a regular basis. And it’s not to say I don’t fantasize about Fudge Rounds the size of the Astrodome. Just being honest.

Well, I hope you’ve found my guide helpful. Or maybe you haven’t. If that’s the case, more power to you. If I ever have garlic that needs pressing, I’ll give you a call.

Deana Nall’s column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is


  • At Wed Aug 31, 06:48:00 AM, Blogger Kendra said…

    I just saw the Zip Lock Big Bags at Target for the first time a few days ago. I really wanted them, but couldn't think of a use for them. I went back last night because I decided I couldn't live without them. After much thought, I finally found a use for them. It made me very happy!

    I'm also embarrassed to say that I love Easy Mac because only my girls like it, so we waste it if I make the whole box.

    While I'm at it, I found the Swiffer Wet Jet to be useless. Maybe I wait until there's too big of mess for it. It just seems to spread the mess around.

    Now, having said all of that, please know that I am no domestic gooddess. My house is messy, my laundry overflowing, my floor dirty, I rarely cook. BUT, my 6 year old can make her own mac and cheese and I have a bag big enough to stuff all our crap in if someone unexpectedly rings the doorbell! Now, that's useful :)

  • At Wed Aug 31, 11:01:00 AM, Blogger Sarah said…

    You left off the pre-made cookie dough already cut into cookie-sized squares for you. It was REALLY that hard to spoon a hunk out of the tube?

    And, I use my garlic press several times a week -- but I did not pay $70 for it, nor would I.

    My hubby Troy Stirman grew up in Temple, proudly played in the Big Purple, and now that he's working for ACU, he's trying to raise money for the Big Purple (which is currently FABULOUS if you haven't heard them lately). He's the one!

  • At Wed Aug 31, 02:07:00 PM, Blogger stuckinthe80s said…

    Since this blog is chick-intensive, I ain't touchin' number 3.

    Zip Lock Big Bags? I'm sure many a dove will get a look from inside one of those things beginning this weekend.

    And useless products -- how 'bout the dental floss they have rigged up on a handle. C'mon! Just wrap that stuff around your index finger, floss like crazy, and watch the tips turn blue. That's half the fun of flossing!!!

  • At Wed Aug 31, 07:24:00 PM, Blogger Tracy said…

    I just cringed when I saw in the peanut butter section a jar of mixed peanut butter AND jelly. As if its too labor intensive or expensive to get the two seperate jars out?? And they make frozen ones???? Yikes!

  • At Wed Aug 31, 07:44:00 PM, Blogger Deana Nall said…

    Actually, I have a box of "Uncrustables" in my freezer. First-grader was dying to try them...

  • At Wed Aug 31, 10:27:00 PM, Blogger Karen said…

    I haven't seen the Big Bags yet, but I can tell you what I think I'd use them for: packing suitcases. Ziploc bags are great for organizing and packing outfits for travel. I usually do the kids' clothes in gallon ziplocs; I'll put together a top/bottom combo, along with socks and underwear, squeeze out all the air and seal it up. Then all the kids have to do is pick a bag each day, and they will have a clean outfit. Takes up a little less room than the traditional packing methods. With Big Bags, I could do the same with my things (maybe)... and if it would make more room in the suitcase, then yippee! (We leave for vacation in 2 weeks, so I may just have to hunt for these Big Bags.)

  • At Thu Sep 01, 06:19:00 AM, Blogger Sarah P said…

    I must say that I made Kraft Mac N Cheese last night as part of our dinner. I was seriously at the grocery store pondering to myself, "I know there's a better way to make this stuff." Alas, my new wife-dom has left me unable to master this complicated recipe. I DID try one time to make a homemade macaroni and cheese recipe. It was more like pasta with strings of cheese around it.
    You should share the wealth...until then I'm opening a box and being proud of it!

  • At Thu Sep 01, 10:46:00 AM, Blogger elizabeth said…

    One of my favorite useless products is the diaper changing table. What is wrong with the floor? Bed? Couch?

  • At Thu Sep 01, 02:56:00 PM, Blogger Karen said…

    Oh, I'm with Elizabeth... a changing table is right up there! My oldest rolled off of one when she was 2 1/2 months old. I don't think I ever used another one. The couch, the floor, the bed... all those places are much easier than a changing table!

  • At Sat Sep 03, 08:03:00 PM, Blogger Kyle said…

    I guess I'm a dork. I use my (cheap) garlic press all the time. I'm a garlic fiend.


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