The Most Useless Gifts of the Year
Received a fascinating catalog in the mail yesterday from “Hammacher Schlemmer,” who tout themselves as the “America’s Longest Running Catalog.” For 165 years! Wonder what the 1848 version looked like?
Full respect to them for retaining the historical name, and not allowing someone with a degree in marketing to change it to a more modern swingin’ name like “H and S Bling” or whatever,
Have no idea why it was sent to me, as I’ve never purchased from them in their entire 165 year history. I presume that one of the many enthusiast mags I subscribe to sold them a mailing list. In any case, I’ve always been fascinated by design, whether industrial, graphic, automotive, or other. I love seeing how creative people can give the world items that combine function, performance, and beauty. In another life, or granted a different skill set, I would have liked to pursue design as a career.
In any case, the “H and S” catalog (as I’m too lazy to type the entire thing several times) appears to be the result of a convention of gifted designers who all got really drunk and then brainstormed products it would be fun to manufacture. While some of the items in the catalog are functional, hardly any of them are actually needed… by anyone.
No problem there, as I worked at motorcycle dealerships for 13 years, where a frequent inside comment was “we do not sell anything that anyone actually needs,” which is more true than false.
The cover has a marketing technique I’ve never seen before. An item with no identifying caption or page reference, and I could not figure out what it is or what it is meant to be used for. You have to read the entire catalog to find it – which I did – at the back. Curious? I’ve done the same thing here. Keep reading!
So, if you’re looking to purchase a gift for someone who actually does have everything, let me present a selection of gift ideas from this catalog – many of which had me laughing out loud. I’ve selected only my top ten from a catalog of 88 pages, so you can imagine the other delights within!
A real London taxicab from the 1980’s. $ 40,0000.00
Voice activated R2-D2 replica. 15” tall. Requires 4 AA batteries and four D batteries. $ 199.95
Remote controlled tarantula. This would make me a widower in less than 5 seconds. 1” by 6” The 8 legs move independently and the eyes light up. Powered by a remote. Requires four AA batteries and two AAA batteries. $ 29.95
Climbing wall treadmill. Powered by the weight of the climber, this 10 foot tall workout offers hours of fun, with LED displays to show time and height scaled. Yours for a reasonable… $ 9,000.00
A carbon fiber money clip – be the first on your block! $ 149.95
The best talking watch. To differentiate from all of the lesser talking watches. And why would I want a watch to talk to me? Because I am blind? How am I reading the catalog? AND, comes with a “distinctly male voice” because that is, er, important? $ 99.95
The full bottle wine glass. Holds an entire bottle of wine! $ 19.95
The “fashionista” Christmas tree. A lighted fake 5’ tall Christmas tree in the shape of a dressmaker’s dummy. Because… $ 249.95
Star Wars robes – because what would be more romantic than a loved one in an R2-D2 OR Chewbacca robe? $ 99.95
Best for last! The Formula One speaker dock. An iPhone speaker dock made from the exhaust manifold of a retired Formula 1 race car. It does not say it was actually USED on a Formula 1 race car, and from the photos the product appears to be untouched, but you can choose your favorite design, such as the ’78 Cosworth DFV, the ’06 Renault RS 26, the ’07 Ferrari, “and others.” The speakers are mounted in the four openings of the headpipes. Yours for a low, low: $ 8,500.00
There you have it. Not the usual “ten best” gift ideas or anything like that, but ten gifts that you can be assured the recipient has never seen before.
Happy Holidays to you and yours!
Copyright 2013 David Preston