The Truth About “As Seen on TV” Products

I am a self-admitted sucker.

I always get suckered into buying something that I see during an infomercial  They always make it look so good! It arrives in the mail and I am so excited to use it and soon that excitement turns to heartache when it eventually breaks.

So I had to repeat that to myself when I found myself staring at the TV trying to justify a reason to buy a shake weight.

Then I found this article from Good Housekeeping…it breaks down infomercial products and if they truly are a good buy. I think I may have saved myself hundreds of dollars.

The Ninja:

$159.80 Free S&H

The Pitch: “Create all of your favorite recipes with just one touch of a button!”

The Truth: We tested the Ninja for its ability to replace a blender, food processor, mixer, and juicer, and to make “creamy” ice cream. It crushed ice exceptionally well, ground coffee beans and chopped onions evenly, and made a consistently smooth, if grainy, smoothie and margarita. It kneaded pizza dough and beat cookie dough, though not as easily as a mixer would. It blended frozen fruit, ice, and cream, making a soft frozen mixture, but not ice cream. Also under par: Our attempt at salsa resulted in barely chopped onions and pulverized tomatoes, and we found juicing fruit made fruit puree instead of juice.

The Bottom Line: The Ninja Kitchen System 1100 is a good stand-in for a blender or mini-chopper. But for its price, you could buy one of each of those, plus a hand mixer.

The Groutinator:

$10 + $7 S&H for two

The Pitch: “Stains vanish instantly!”

The Truth: The Groutinator is an abrasive block that claims to restore the look of grout and concrete stained by dirt, mildew or hard water. A few testers liked that they could skip chemicals or tools and clean even the thinnest grout lines. In the lab and in testers’ homes, Groutinator proved great at removing nail polish, good on coffee stains, and just OK on dirt, mildew, and rust; it didn’t do much for driveways or garage floors. It needed to be resharpened every several times to clean an entire shower, leaving a mess of blue dusk in its wake. (Have vacuum on hand.)

The Bottom Line: The cleaning process isn’t as effortless as the infomercial makes it seem — it requires some arm-fatiguing scrubbing. Most testers still preferred cleanser and a brush.

Flex Seal:

$20 + $10 S&H

The Pitch: “A liquid rubber sealant [that] stops leaks fast!”

The Truth: What a mess! Even after three coats, the treated items (a flowerpot, bucket, hose, etc.) still sprung leaks — and forget about sealing a screen door, as shown in the ad. It contains hazardous ingredients and lacks proper safety instructions.

The Bottom Line: Do not try this at home.

EZ Cracker:

$10 plus $7 S&H

The Pitch: “Crack eggs, separate egg whites, and strip shells from hard-boiled eggs in seconds…no mess, no fuss!”

The Truth: We used the EZ Cracker to crack and separate four dozen eggs. Our finding: It’s not so eggs-cellent. About 20 percent of the time, eggshells splintered into the raw eggs and/or some of the yolk slid through the separating attachment (not shown) and into the whites in our bowl. When eggs were hard-cooked, the squeezing required to break the shells often tore in half the delicate eggs inside.

The Bottom Line: We never thought cracking eggs was a problem that needed solving — and this contraption doesn’t change our minds. Save your money!

The Nu Wave:

$150 plus $30 S&H

The Pitch: “Enjoy healthy and delicious food in just minutes.”

The Truth: We broiled, roasted, steamed, and more. This infrared oven did best on baking cookies, air-cooking frozen fries, and dehydrating beef jerky. On average, it was 50 percent faster than an oven if what we were cooking required preheating. But our “waved” burgers lost more juice and released less fat than broiled ones. And forget about using it to reheat.

The Bottom Line: Only worth it if you don’t have an oven.

The Shake Weight:

$20 plus $10 S&H

The Pitch: “Get strong, sexy, sculpted arms…in just six minutes a day!”

The Truth: Testers who used 2.5-pound dumbbells for half an hour a day, three days a week, achieved slightly better toning results than those who used the Shake Weight with its instructional DVD — which actually clocked in at nearly nine minutes, not the promised six. Nonetheless, many women found the convenience of a shorter routine appealing, particularly those who hadn’t done upper-body exercises in the past. The exercise physiologists we spoke to, however, seriously doubted that the Shake Weight could increase muscle activity by 300 percent over regular weights, as claimed.

The Bottom Line: Arm-workout newbies may see results, but veteran exercisers won’t find the routine sufficiently strenuous.

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