The 4 Most Ridiculous Products for Saving Time on Food
For the vast majority of us, time is a precious resource. With so many things to do and so few hours in the day, shaving minutes or even seconds off the time it takes to complete your daily tasks can go a long way toward helping a person maintain some semblance of productivity and/or sanity.
Unfortunately, for decades now, our insatiable need for more free time has been a go-to target for cheaters and scammers looking to make a quick buck. Store shelves and late night infomercials, for example, are littered with bullshit gadgets that claim to possess magical powers that will save you time and energy in nearly every area of life. Unsurprisingly, a large majority of these products are based around food.
We talk about a few of the more questionable kitchen-related time savers on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
... where I'm joined by comic Maria Shehata (My Super Overactive Imagination) and Cracked editor Alex Schmidt. We kick things off by talking about the single most goddamn insane scam of an "As Seen on TV" product in the history of mankind.
The Rapid Ramen Cooker
I'm going to ask everyone to just pause for a moment and take a look at the picture above. Look at it long and hard. It's a bowl. That's what the fuck that is. It is nothing more than a bowl. Nevertheless, someone walked onto an episode of Shark Tank with that bowl, and walked out with a goddamn check made out to real money.
This is how Mark Cuban spends his billions.
I was tempted to just make the entire column about this one "invention," mainly because I have approximately 136 questions I'd like to sit down and ask about it face-to-face.
For starters, how pressed for time do you need to be for this purchase to make sense? "Rapid" is the only way to cook instant ramen, and it always has been. Aside from the fact that pricing it above 25 cents amounts to price gouging, its only other selling point is that it takes three minutes to cook.
Yes, I get that I'm not accounting for the "time" it takes to boil water, but goddamn, how hungry are you? Even if the intricacies of handling a pot on top of a stove escape you, there are still an abundance of options at your disposal. For example, you could just buy the kind that comes in a bowl already.
I'm eating some right now, in fact!
A radical solution, I know, but it is a solution nonetheless. Another idea? Just microwave them in a bowl you already own. Again, the Rapid Ramen Cooker is not some kind of space age gadget commoners like us have just lacked access to until now. It's a fucking bowl. You have one. I accept that you might not have one that won't explode if you subject it to the rigors of long term microwave action, but if that's the case, just spend your money on one of those instead. You can detonate a nuclear warhead inside a Pyrex bowl, and they're available at most grocery stores for about the same money.
Also great for cooking crack!
Yes, you'll have to spring for a potholder to remove it from the microwave, but why the fuck don't you already have a potholder, you goon?
This is what makes us better than the animals.
Even then, Pyrex is the better investment, because you'll be able to use it forever. Meanwhile, the Rapid Ramen Cooker, according to its own fascinating FAQ, will last "up to a year or more."
Excuse me? If any bowl lasts you less than a year, it should be because it's made of glass and you dropped it. This thing is all plastic; you can drop it with impunity, but for some reason, the makers of the Rapid Ramen Cooker aren't willing to put more than 365 days' worth of solid faith in the lasting ability of their product. What happens after a year? Does it just vanish? Do they come collect it and force you to buy a new one? Is that just the approximate amount of time the human body can survive on nothing but ramen? Someone make this make sense for me, please.
Oh, but the Rapid Ramen Cooker "reduces sodium by 50 percent."
Are you magic?
That's impressive, right? Sure it is, except for the part where another gander at that FAQ reveals that it accomplishes this feat by telling you to just use half of the seasoning packet instead of the whole thing.
It's the exact same trick diet pills use. The pill promises to help you lose weight, but the little piece of paper crumbled up inside the bottle says they only work if you eat right and exercise regularly. Well, that works without the pill. Same thing here. If you want to cut the amount of sodium you use in your ramen, just put less of it in your ramen. That's the message of hope the Rapid Ramen Cooker is bringing to hypertensive noodle enthusiasts all around the world. "If you want to eat less sodium, just eat less sodium." You could meditate for ten consecutive weeks and still never land on such profound wisdom.
But if you had time for that, you wouldn't need the Rapid Ramen Cooker, would you?
I could honestly go on for another 1,500 words about this thing, and I just goddamn might at some point in the future, but for now, I have to move on. But come on, people, this is a bowl. It's just a bowl. Buy a bowl if you need a bowl. Don't buy a bowl that's specifically for ramen. If that's not a direct path to tricking your subconscious into believing you're meant to be poor for the rest of your life, I don't what is.
The Self-Stirring Coffee Mug
Do you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis? If not, why the hell can't you stir your own coffee? Do you not have spoons? If that's your answer, then owning a self-stirring coffee mug is the textbook definition of having your priorities out of order.
In fact, owning a self-stirring coffee mug under any circumstances reeks of bad decision making. For one thing, how long are you conceivably expecting a product like this to last? After all, it's no Rapid Ramen Cooker. This thing has buttons and moving parts that are going to come into constant contact with liquids that span the temperature scale. This is the betta fish of kitchen gadgets. You buy it just knowing it will be dead almost as soon as you get it home.
The fish is probably the more useful of the two.
Wait, maybe you have roommates or a partner who get annoyed when they hear the sounds of a metal spoon hitting the side of a coffee mug. If that's the case, move out. Nobody needs that kind of hair trigger personality living under their roof. Get a divorce if you have to. In the long run, people will think way more highly of you than they would if you were to solve the problem by purchasing the stupidest coffee mug ever made.
Also, can we talk about how it works for a second? Have a look at this ...
Is that a weapon?
How long will it take for the rigors of constant use to dislodge that spinning bear trap and send it floating down your esophagus some unfortunate morning? You're not buying a coffee mug, you're buying a guaranteed fight for your life at some unspecified point in the future. Sure, you might not have "sandy dregs of sugar" at the bottom of your cup anymore, as the website promises, but you will have a jagged, bite-size spinning apparatus just waiting to make this purchase the single biggest regret of your life. Just stay on the safe side and stir your coffee like someone who isn't actively trying to make the movie Wall-E happen in real life.
Also, it requires two AAA batteries. You have enough shit to contend with in the morning. Throwing a fresh pair of Duracells in your coffee mug like it's some kind of vintage cassette Walkman doesn't need to be one of them.
The Wraptastic is a device that's meant to make tearing thin sheets of plastic wrap less of a nightmare. It's a dispenser that has a sharp edge on it, so when you pull the plastic wrap out, you can just push it down on that edge and holy shit how is this just not a glorified version of the box that plastic wrap already comes in?
Sure, it has little rubber legs to keep the box from sliding around, but is that one feature enough to make up for the loss of pride that comes with admitting you need this much extra help to use plastic wrap without your world crumbling around you? The general consensus among the guests on the podcast this week was a definitive "yes," as evidenced by this picture of everyone in the room (except me) marveling at its features and benefits.
I've never felt as alone as I did in this moment.
Maybe I'm just not using enough plastic wrap to understand what kind of hardship this is for people, but still, it's plastic wrap. Who cares if it bunches up at the end? You're not wrapping Christmas gifts with it. Bunching it up is an actual part of the process at some point. It doesn't just snap into place.
Unless you spring for the kind that does, like some kind of aristocrat.
When did the cosmetic integrity of plastic wrap become this important to people? Sure, the manic infomercial that pitches this contraption makes bold claims about its other highlights, like how you can cover up to 200 feet of ... something ... with little to no hassle. Here's the thing, though: you don't need to cover 200 feet of anything. Not anything food-related, anyway. Maybe if you're a professional catering company or some shit, but if you are, I imagine this is a problem that your industry addressed a long time ago.
As for us regular folk, plastic wrap doesn't need to be an exact science. Just save your money and wrap your food in frustration like the rest of us.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Snackeez. It's a cup! It's a bowl! It's a bowl inside of a cup! It's the Russian nesting doll of diabetes! Honestly, how much access to snacks do your kids need? I'm assuming this is strictly for kids, by the way, because no respectable adult totes containers around in public if they're exclusively available in this array of colors.
So, again, what exactly are your kids doing with their free hand that would necessitate owning this contraption? More importantly, how long is it going to take for that active lifestyle to result in the dollar-store-grade plastic hinge that keeps the lid in place from snapping off?
Constructed from ultra-durable neons!
Once that happens, this is just a cup that's half filled with disappointment and empty space.
On the bright side, at least it's only four ounces of empty space, so it's not like you were going to fit a lot in there anyway.
Most of the ads for it feature sliced fruit in the snack chamber, which seems mighty ambitious. It's not like this cup is refrigerated. That fruit is going to turn disgusting in pretty short order.
One of the suggested uses on the website literally says "milk and cookies, anyone?" So ... now we're taking the lid off altogether? That's the only way this thing will be remotely useful for a snack task of that magnitude. At that point, it's just a cup and a bowl. You probably have both of those things now. In fact, of all the suggested locations where this gadget might be useful ...
... not a single one really speaks to why the snacks and drinks have to be in the same dish. On the couch? That's probably the last place you need it. Commuters? Why, so your free hand can molest the disgusting walls of your chosen public transportation method of choice? Fuck that, put a drink in one hand and a bag of chips in the other, if for no other reason than to avoid touching anything else around you. Or, better yet, just wait to eat when you're taking a shit or something. Probably far less chance of picking up a virus that way.
Also, good luck locating a reasonable explanation for why a person would ever need to spring for the light-up version referenced anywhere on the site.
Don't do this.
They just toss it out there as an option like it's not the weirdest fucking suggestion ever.
I mean, I get that, on the surface, this seems like a great idea, but that's because every product like this seems like a good idea, at least for one fleeting moment. That's exactly what the people hoping to exploit your need for free time for their own personal gain want. Time to put snacks and drinks in separate containers? Hell, you don't even have time to think about whether that's a problem or not! Best to just pay the $9.95 and hope the Snackeez is everything it claims.
It won't be, and you damn well know it. With all due respect to the George Foreman grill, these products rarely are. We buy them anyway, though, because $9.95 (plus shipping and handling) is a small price to pay for a temporary ray of hope that life will get easier soon.
Adam will be telling jokes at the Guild Cinema in Albuquerque, NM on 11/17 and 11/18 with a whole bunch of other funny people and you should definitely come. Get tickets and more info here. For even more (and better) reading about food, pick up a copy of Jim Gaffigan's new book, Food: A Love Story literally everywhere that sells books. Also, save time in the kitchen by following Adam on Twitter.
For more from Adam, check out 5 Allegedly Awful Foods Everyone Should Try Once. And then check out 20 Terrifying Facts Food Companies Don't Want You to Know.