Early Christmas presents for you, or last-minute gift guide? You decide.

Have you noticed that low-cost 1980s-era gifts are back all over the tee-vee set? I know that they re-appear nearly every Christmas season, but this year they seem really ramped up. Is it a sign of the recession, or simply cheesy nostalgia? Who knows? Who cares? But those annoying commercials everyone loves to hate are everywhere.

(1) The Clapper


I once heard a story from a friend who knew someone whose laugh was a thunderous, hooting, honking guffaw. Then, he received a Clapper as a gift. He hooked it up to his tee-vee and living room lights. Whenever he laughed, the tee-vee and all the lights in the room would go off and on and off and on in time to his cackles, contributing extra hilarity to his viewing of comedy shows. Who cares if it’s practical or not? It just seems like it is, and therefore it’s a must-have, or rather, a must-give — perfect for the cheesy (re)gift exchange at work.

[As an aside, while searching for this video, I found the following gem, a video of Kent “Toast” French, the world’s fastest clapper. I wonder how many times he could get the lights to flicker in a minute.]


(2) Chia Pet


Ch-ch-ch-chia! Oh gawd. How useless is this item? Immeasurably so, which just means that it’s absolutely, irresistibly a must-give in these tough economic times.

The newest versions just prove what we’ve all known all along: it’s for stoners. Who else would try to grow sprouts from seeds on the heads of Scooby Doo and Shaggy? What, no Velma?


Chia Pet also inspired one of my favorite fake ads from SNL: Chia Head. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a video. You’ll just have to believe me.

Of course, it makes perfect sense that the patents to both the Chia Pet and the Clapper are held by the same company.

(3) The Snuggie

And here’s a recent addition to the canon, an instant classic.


Wow, I’ve never thought about how inconvenient blankets and sweaters can be! Life itself is changed forever with this giant robe-blankie that makes its wearer appear to be a cult member in a bad 70s sci-fi movie. Also, isn’t “snuggie” another word for wedgie? This thing is named after a form of middle-school bullying torment.

And now, a palate cleanser.


That’s better.

16 responses to “Early Christmas presents for you, or last-minute gift guide? You decide.”

  1. Dave says:

    God I love that last video.

  2. God rest you merry, Whatsiteers,
    Let nothing you dismay.
    Remember Humphrey Bogart was born on Christmas Day.
    To act in awesome movies — we watch them on Blu-Ray!
    O tidings of comfort and joy,
    comfort and joy,
    O tidings of comfort and joy.

  3. ruben says:

    I’ve got a friend who uses the Clapper. He is relatively abled but claims that it saves him the difficulty of reaching from his bed and turning off his bedroom light. This disturbed me but got me thinking; are there others using such products unironically? Own up.

  4. Kate the Great says:

    I was really excited about the World’s Fastest Clapper guy because I thought I’d be able to hear what one continuous clap sounds like. Not quite. Why does he start with a warm-up exercise, anyway? And I wonder how he discovered this talent of his. I can just imagine some kid in his bedroom. His mom pokes her head in.

    “What are you doing, son?”
    “I’m trying to clap as fast as possible.”
    Mom thinks, “Wow, that’s a worthless talent. Good luck.”

  5. Dave says:

    I would use a Clapper if not for the social stigma. I am a slave to convention.

    There is no such thing as one continuous clap.

    “What are you doing, son?”
    “I’m trying to clap as fast as possible.”

    Quick thinking.

  6. swells says:

    I badly wanted to find a Clapper for our family gift exchange tonight, but I was unsuccessful. That thing would have been stolen over and over by everyone.

    And for the record, I did give my mom a Chia Head a few years ago (they do exist, not just on SNL), with the instructions that now she finally had someone whose haircut she could always control.

  7. Tim Wager says:

    The SNL Chia Head was actually Kevin Nealon’s head. Growing sprouts on his head was a hair-replacement gambit. He picked a small flower off and gave it to a date.

  8. Mark says:

    How many people watched the Toast French clapper guy and then tried clapping as fast as you could afterwards?

    /em raises hand!

  9. Mimi says:

    Wow. It’s sad, but I’ve been given every one of those items.
    And I have three chia heads, one of them in the form of Homer Simson when Chia was re-branding itself in the early 90’s.

    Wow. Again.
    there are no words . . . except maybe a Snoopy Snow Cone Machine woulda been col, to ya know?

  10. Mark says:

    At our local Target there’s an endcap filled with ‘as seen on tv’ stuff. There are a couple that we’ve bought. One is something called the Hercules Hook. They’re frickin’ awesome. Seriously.
    I didn’t buy a chia pet, but last week I did ponder it. Seriously. Sometimes I think the kids would love something, then i realize I am the one that would love it. That’s Chia Pet for ya.

  11. Jane says:

    That clapper guy is something else. How DO you decide you’re going to be the world’s fastest clapper?

    And my mom actually bought that Snuggie thing for a friend this year. She loved it, in case you were wondering.

  12. Natasha says:

    My 4 year-old passed by while I was reading this post, not only he recognized the chia pets, but demanded that I played the clip a few times while he sang and danced to it. Then he said, “Wow mama! Chia pets are amazing! Can I have one please, please, pleeeeaaase! All you have to do is spread the seeds. Chi-chi-chi-chia.”

  13. Kate the Great says:

    I think the people on the Snuggies commercial all look like monks.

  14. Jane says:

    So did my mom’s friend.

  15. Natasha says:

    But you gotta love the egg peelers. I distraught woman in a black and white video trying to peel an egg with her hands and… she can’t. “But wait, there is more…” she discovers the egg peelers and finds her true purpose! “In minutes” she makes all kinds of egg dishes for the family. All she needs now is some “head-on,” hopefully after she bangs her head on the wall and learns how to peel an egg.

  16. That fast clapping guy totally made my day!