NPR has a good page about Ron Popeil’s Ronco empire. The Pocket Fisherman, the In-the-Egg Egg Scrambler, the Smokeless Ashtray, Mr. Microphone, I watched all of these many, many times, always wondering who bought the stuff. But people did buy it — Popeil’s pitches changed our relationship with the TV. The Veg-o-Matic actually has a home in the Smithsonian now. In fact, on the NPR page you can watch the original Veg-o-Matic commercial. Go look at it. You may be tempted, like boy who saw Hamlet, to dismiss it as one cliché after another. But it’s not. The man’s establishing a genre. That’s worth a little respect.
By the way, these links to NPR constitute an act of civil disobedience. NPR now requires that you fill out this special form before you link to them. But I didn’t fill it out. Do you suppose they’ll actually enforce this? As Voltaire might have said: I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to link to my extensive and extremely clever web site. Voltaire would’ve had a blog. Oh yeah.