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Published January 19 2010

Parenting Perspectives: Help! My children are addicted to infomercials

I have those friends who ban television from their homes.

I am not one of them.

Rather, I have always believed a healthy amount of television is actually beneficial for children. When my kids were little, they learned a lot from “Sesame Street,” Peep and Dora. Even now, I’ve seen the educational benefits of the programming on Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel.

But my family has a TV problem, and it’s not with the programming.

My children suffer from a condition known as “extreme infomercial sensitivity.” While normal children can resist “limited-time offers” and “money-back guarantees,” my children are defenseless. And it’s affecting our everyday lives.

The other day, my 5-year-old was watching me do laundry when she asked

if I was going to add

Oxi-Clean to the load. She was like a miniature blond Billy Mays right in my own basement.

It’s not just Oxi-Clean. My little pitch girls have already convinced us to buy Snuggies, those ridiculous blankets with sleeves (which I love, by the way). And they begged my husband and me to buy “Big City Sliders,” the little pan that makes White Castle-like burgers.

We also just bought a “Touch and Brush.” The product promises neat and easy dispensing of toothpaste. Since I’m tired of scraping dried neon pink globs of Disney Princess toothpaste off my sink basin it seemed like an OK idea. (Given the strength of the princess toothpaste, I’ve often wondered if we could use it to caulk around the tub). The gadget is on the wall. The globs are still in the sink.

But we don’t always give in. Last summer, I resisted their pleas for the upside-down tomato plant and an eyelash curler that looks like it was developed by NASA. We also didn’t buy the Sham-Wow, a towel that could soak up Lake Superior. I held firm. But just last night they begged for “The Perfect Brownie Pan,” which bakes your brownies in perfect pre-cut squares. We all know how difficult it is to use a butter knife. I feel myself weakening.

I know I am to blame for passing this gene along to my children. I have fallen victim to the power of the infomercial for years. There was a time I believed that skinny blond woman who told me she got that way simply by taking deep breaths. I also bought that goopy Australian hair-removal cream made of honey and sugar. My legs were silky smooth, but I started attracting ants.

I bought Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo workout because I wanted tighter glutes. Now I’m seriously considering Booty Pop underwear, which promises a firm behind without sweating.

I won’t deny it. There is a certain amount of excitement with every new product I order; the hope that the latest product will actually deliver on its promises. I tingle as I open the cardboard box. Sometimes, I’m pleased. Sometimes, I’m not.

There is some consolation in knowing I am not the first generation of my family to succumb to the pitchman.

Not long ago, my Dad bought George Foreman grills for all of us, and he swears by a microwave corn on the cob cooker he got from TV. I remember as a kid he’d buy the newest kitchen gadgets to make crepes, omelettes or ice cream. Mom smiled, used them once, and put them away in the appliance graveyard under the sink.

We can’t be the only family to suffer from “extreme infomercial sensitivity”? We need help! We need Ron Popeil!

Can’t Popeil, the king of infomercials, find some “top scientists” somewhere to come up with a product for us? Something that contains extracts from a rare French cantaloupe? Or could also dehydrate food and get rid of our double chins? We want operators to stand by to take our calls! We’re ready to pay top dollar ($19.99 plus shipping and handling) It could happen. I think I’m starting to tingle.


Inforum searchword: Tracy Briggs Tracy Briggs is a mother of two and a personality for WDAY AM 970.