Marketing to the Max: When Dumb Products Happen to Smart People

by Shawanda Greene

Do you know anyone who’s absolutely convinced their favorite product is the best invention since boxed wine? My mother swears by low sodium salt. For a while, I believed it was healthier because, hey, it has less sodium.

One day while sprinkling my grits with regular sodium salt, my mother told me to be careful not to use too much. She said I only needed a small amount of regular sodium salt because, well, it’s saltier. Then it occurred to me how much more salt I had to add to my food using the low sodium salt in order to get it to the desired level of saltiness. To this day, my mama refuses to acknowledge she’s consuming the same amount of sodium by using low sodium salt.

Another product I never could understand was roach sterilizing spray. I have a family member who, after over a decade, is still pretty upset RAID Max Roach Sterilizer was discontinued. Instead of killing a roach, this product prevented it from reproducing. The question shouldn’t have to be asked, but wouldn’t killing the roach stop it from reproducing?

I mean, I’ll let a small spider or harmless ant chill in my apartment as long as they’re respectful of my space. But roaches are inconsiderate and intrusive. I hate to sound like a bigot, but for the most part, all roaches look alike. What was most disturbing about the non-violent roach sterilizer, was that it caused the roach’s wings to lift up. So when you saw it again, you knew it was a roach you’d encountered before. That’s weird. What’s the point of sterilizing it? It’s not a dog. You can’t domesticate a roach.

There are other products that are/were marketed effectively enough to entice otherwise reasonable people to buy them. I still don’t get mittens or lambskin condoms. Neither make much sense to me, but they’re still in the stores, and people still buy them. There are others we could discuss, but the fall finale of Glee starts shortly. Gotta get ready for that.

Are there any products you believe are just stupid; products you can’t understand why anyone would ever buy them?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Carla December 10, 2009 at 5:53 AM

I know I'm going to get slammed for this one, but I dont understand paying for prosthetic hair when you already have hair. Weaves, sew-in wigs, glued in hair etc. I'm not talking about people who lost their hair due to medical conditions, accidents, etc, but people who have a full head of their own hair and would pay $$$$ for someone elses hair.


Shawanda December 11, 2009 at 5:38 PM

I won't slam you for that one. I used to where weaves for one of two possible reasons: versatility OR self hatred brought on by a narrow minded standard of beauty promoted by the media and further perpetuated by rejection of blackness within the black American community. There, I said it.


FabulouslyBroke.com December 10, 2009 at 1:40 PM

Some people don't want to kill insects, even roaches

BF is one. He screams like the blue streak if I even so much as venture close to a spider.

I think I almost saw him cry once when his sister's father in law squished a huge spider with his foot.

If we didn't have this chemical ban on our home, I'm sure he'd be the #1 supporter of buying that spray… if we had roaches.


Shawanda December 11, 2009 at 5:48 PM

I feel bad about killing roaches, but if I see one in my space, he/she will not be accommodated. Maybe my discrimination towards roaches isn't logical. If they didn't give me the jeebies, perhaps we could work something out. Oh, and seeing a roach with it's wings lifted up is even more jeebie inducing.


Ashley December 10, 2009 at 5:27 PM

Hope I don't step on any toes…. but the Snuggie!! Buy an oversized robe and be done with it, LOL. The lambskin condoms make sense to me though because some people are allergic to latex.


Carla December 11, 2009 at 3:42 AM

LAMO! I forgot about the Snuggie. I loved it when Bill Maher did a spoof about it on his show.

And yes, the lambskin condoms is a MUST for some people who are allergic to latex (like my mother and brother)…


Shawanda December 11, 2009 at 6:00 PM

I knew someone would bring up the Snuggie. Although, if they were made with higher quality material, I probably would've jumped on that bandwagon a long time ago.

As for lambskin condoms, I don't see the appeal because they aren't as effective in protecting against STDs. Polyurethane condoms are a viable alternative for people who are allergic to latex and they offer STD protection. My line of thinking is that if you trust someone enough to expose yourself in that way, then why not just use an oral contraceptive and skip the condom altogether. That's if you're concerned about pregnancy.

Now back Snuggies and other stuff that doesn't make any sense: BABY BATHROBES.


ToyLady December 10, 2009 at 12:55 PM

My mother-in-law was thrilled to pieces when she bought a yeast spoon. A yeast spoon? Yes, a spoon. For measuring yeast. Seriously!

In our house, we call that a tablespoon.


Shawanda December 11, 2009 at 5:42 PM

That's hilarious! I'm hardly a cook, but I can't imagine yeast is so special it needs it's own measuring spoon.


Tia Jones December 13, 2009 at 1:40 PM

I purchased a tuna strainer from my son's fundraiser. WTF do I need that for. Normal people just strain it with the lid in the sink. and then throw it away. Sigh, they got me.

Oh baby shoes..um where are they walking too…

baby massagers – are babies really that stressed!


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