Columns

2013.12.11 Some Christmas gifts are dumb and dumber

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

By RICH FOLEY

Yes, it’s Christmas shopping time again, and the gifts just keeping getting stranger. Think you’ve seen everything? Not by a long shot, Santa.

Who came up with the theory that what we really wanted for Christmas was a Hostess Twinkie maker? First, someone with bad taste gives you the appliance. Next, you have to buy the ingredients, prepare them, and do whatever else is needed for the device to do its thing.

After all the time, additional cost and hassle, if you’re lucky, you might end up with a result that’s as good as (or as bad as, depending on your point of view)  the original product. Why not just make a quick run to the store and buy some, if that’s what you really want?

But the genius behind the Twinkie maker didn’t stop there. You can also buy a Hostess Cupcake maker, an appliance that makes a Super Pretzel brand pretzel and additional devices to make other snacks. If you must have one of these, I’d bet you can save a lot of money if you wait for the after-Christmas clearance sales.

And then there’s the Magic Stick. A “mere” $49.95, plus shipping, the Stick, after charging, holds enough power to recharge a cell phone two times.

Am I missing something? Instead of just charging your phone as always, now you have to charge the stick, and then use it to charge your phone? You’re spending twice as much time charging as before and spending over $50 for the privilege. The words “Bah, humbug” come to mind.

Next, there is a line of products for residents, former residents and friends of the state of Michigan. First is a Michigan ice cube tray. For a whopping $7.99, you get a plastic tray that enables you to make ice cubes shaped like the state. 

For some reason, the manufacturer has eliminated the Straits of Mackinac, combining the two peninsulas into one. The tray lets you freeze eight icy facsimiles of this geographic atrocity at a time. Instead of spending $7.99 plus tax for this, you might be better off investing in an accurate map.

The second Michigan product might incite even more protests. Billed as a “Michigan-Shaped Solid Wood Cutting Board,” it looks pretty good except for one thing—there’s no Upper Peninsula. That might fly in Lansing or Detroit, but I hope the maker isn’t counting on sales to be rolling in from Marquette, Escanaba, or Iron Mountain.

Then there’s the third product, Michigan cookie cutters. These come in a set of two, one for each peninsula. A resident of Houghton or Newberry could make cookies of both peninsulas, then feed the lower ones to the dog. Or don’t make any in the first place. Just think of the possibilities.

Another company has introduced a product for people who have had their lunch sandwiches “disappear” from the company refrigerator. For $8, you can buy a package of 25 zipper-top sandwich bags with phony mold blotches on either side. 

Most likely, no one will ever steal your sandwich again. Now your biggest worry will be that someone might clean the refrigerator and throw out your perfectly fresh lunch.

Finally, those Chia Pet folks are at it again. I may be one of the few people who hasn’t ever seen the wildly popular cable series “Duck Dynasty.” I have, however, seen various members of the Robertson family show up on broadcast network programs, write best-selling books and even record their own CD. It was probably inevitable that they be immortalized in terra cotta and seeds.

So far, Chia Pets are on the market for Willie Robertson and Uncle Si, both of whom quickly will sport bushy green beards if you correctly follow directions. I’m thinking the bearded Chia Pet idea could be expanded.

How about a Chia version of Abraham Lincoln, our first bearded president? While we’re at it, why not Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield and Benjamin Harrison, too? But don’t stop there.

History buffs might also enjoy a Rasputin Chia Pet. For movie fans, a Chia Gabby Hayes. And there’s always ZZ Top for music lovers. But remember, Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill only. The ironically-named drummer, Frank Beard, doesn’t have a beard.

That’s all I’ve got for this Christmas. And remember, in the unlikely event anyone feels the need to buy me a gift, I don’t want any of these items. Merry Christmas!

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