TV | September 26, 2016 5:00 am

The 10 Ultimate Infomercials

The 10 Ultimate Infomercials (OK, 11, Thanks to This Special Offer!)

Before instant streaming and the Internet and all the things that allow us to watch whatever we want, whenever we want to do so, we just had TV. And sometimes, networks didn’t feel like making new programs or even re-airing old ones. Infomercials filled the void. Less than an actual show but more than a mere commercial, they could prove strangely hypnotic to insomniacs flipping through channels at all hours of the night.

So RealClearLife dug through all the most famous infomericals to present you with our 10 favorites. In fact, as part of this limited time offer, we’re throwing in a bonus No. 11! See them all below. Operators are standing by now.


1. Ronco’s GLH Spray-On Hair: Founded by Ron Popeil, the company Ronco created a variety of products that proved to be late-night staples. (Yes, you will see more of them here.) GLH—it stands for “Great Looking Hair”—lets you “spray the bald away.” Watch for yourself to determine how great you find these locks.


2. The ThighMaster: Her breakout role was Chrissy Snow on the sitcom Three’s Company in 1977, but now Suzanne Somers is probably best known for this device that makes you the master of your thighs, letting you squeeze, squeeze your way to shapely legs.



3. Ronco Showtime Rotisserie & BBQ: So you have not one, but two chickens that require cooking? Ronco can help. “Set it and forget it” proved an absurdly catchy slogan even by inventor Ron Popeil’s lofty standards.



4. George Foreman Grill: He was an Olympic gold medalist heavyweight champ, who went 76-5 with two wins over Joe Frazier and a legendary loss to Muhammad Ali. All this, while recording knockout wins in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. But his grill was by far the most lucrative thing he ever did. The Lean, Mean, Fat-Reducing Grilling Machines may have earned Big George an astounding $200 million.


5. Tony Little’s Gazelle. Now 60, this ad captures Tony Little in his youthful glory as he shows off the Gazelle’s “Total Body Workout” and comes this close to getting hit with a sexual harassment suit by his female co-star.



6. Sweatin’ to the Oldies: The combination of exercise video and classic pop hits was the initial selling point, but Richard Simmons translated it into full-fledged celebrity for himself, popping up on classic programs including Arrested Development (in an infomercial parody for “The Cornballer”) and The Larry Sanders Show, as well as having notorious interviews with Howard Stern. Behold his limitless energy in the clip above.


7. The Snuggie: You know what your blanket was missing? Sleeves.



8. ShamWow!: The towel taken to the next level. The rapid-fire sales rap by “Vince” is almost stream of consciousness (“Made in Germany: you know the Germans always make good stuff”).


9. Jack LaLanne’s Power Juicer: Jack Lalanne was one of the first fitness obsessives: He started hosting a program dealing with it way back in 1951. LaLanne passed in 2011 at age 96, but the juicer lives on. (Seriously, they’re still for sale.)

10. Ronco Ginsu Knives: Perhaps Ronco’s most entertaining infomercial, it begins by explaining why you should cut food with knives, instead of just smashing it with your bare hands. (Really.) The knives themselves were capable of cutting through a tin can and then cutting a tomato as well, because hey, who doesn’t need to slice both those things in the kitchen?

And, as promised here’s your special bonus infomercial!


Bonus! The Bowflex: “It’s here, waiting for you.” So begins the infomercial that seemed equally like a horror film as an ad for exercise equipment. Even in a field known for bold claims, it remains hard to top the Bowflex’s promise of “unlimited strength and power.”

But wait, there’s still more! Because you acted now, you also get the bonus bonus infomercial!


Bonus Bonus! The Flowbee Hair Cutting System: With “very little skill,” it lets you give yourself a “good layered haircut.” How it failed to put the salon industry out of business remains a mystery.

—Sean Cunningham for RealClearLife