29 results found for “ridiculous products”

One Star, Should Be Free

Goodness, gracious, bad balls of fire.

As an intelligent and fresh-smelling reader of this site, you’re surely wise enough to know that selling two different products with nearly identical packaging is a terrible business practice. Alas, the executives at the Sazerac Company are not so sagacious. As a result, the company is now facing a lawsuit for deceptive labeling. Here’s why:

Two distinct products, in virtually identical packaging
Left: “Fireball Whisky”; Right: “Fireball Cinnamon” malt beverage
[Composite image created using this source material]

Once you realize that two different products are shown above, it’s easy to understand why the company has been sued. Sazerac had a desire to garner sales from stores that aren’t permitted to sell whisky but can sell beer, malt beverages, and wine. That led them to create a knock-off beverage, which is understandable. Copying the existing product’s label so completely, however, is indefensible. Undoubtedly, they wanted to capitalize on existing brand familiarity, but this was a sure-fire(ball) way to confuse people.1

If your FAQ needs to include the following text, you should probably reconsider some things:

How Can I Tell the Difference Between Fireball Cinnamon and Fireball Whisky Products?

There are 2 key differences between the Fireball Cinnamon labels vs the Fireball Whisky label:

• Any package with Fireball ‘Cinnamon Whisky’ on the front label is our whisky-based product

• Any product with Fireball ‘Cinnamon’ on the front label, without ‘Whisky’, is either our malt-based or wine-based product

Also, that’s really just a single difference. The package includes the word “Whisky” or it does not. Everything else is virtually identical, and thus eminently confusing.

This feels like something the government might be interested in preventing. Heck, long-time readers may remember that labels on beer are heavily regulated. Is there no Battle Martin of booze bottles?

Apparently not, and thus a class-action filing with the court system is being used to try to right this wrong. Though I suspect it will lead Sazerac to change their packaging, the lawsuit in question is nonetheless difficult to take seriously. It includes several laughable claims from lead plaintiff Anne Marquez, who mistakingly purchased Fireball Cinnamon instead of Fireball Whisky. Purportedly, Marquez “expected the Product would contain distilled spirits in a non-de minimis or non-negligible amount”. I think when it comes down to it, she expected only that the product would taste like cinnamon and get her drunk. I’m certain both of the products shown above could manage that.2

The lawsuit also includes the ridiculous assertion that 99¢ is overpriced for the non-whisky “Fireball Cinnamon” product. It’s difficult to accept the notion that anything that costs less than a buck can be called “overpriced” in 2023, but they’re making that claim with an ostensibly straight face. As a result, the folks who brought this suit sound quite a bit like the misguided whiners complaining about prices on Apple’s App Store. The plaintiffs may want to reconsider some things as well.


  1. I’m sorry about this dumb joke, but not so sorry that I removed it. ↩︎

  2. That said, it should be noted that the non-whisky versions are lower proof than the original. Malt-based Fireball Cinnamon is only 16.5% alcohol and another wine-based Fireball Cinnamon is 21% alcohol. The original Fireball is more powerful, with 33% alcohol. ↩︎

Maybe Tack on Some Rose-Colored Glasses Too

If I never see anyone wearing one of these, I will be not at all shocked.

My pal Rich W. has long had a gripe with appliance maker Dyson, namely that they spend massive amounts of time and energy solving relatively inconsequential problems. Perhaps most famously, they perfected the vacuum cleaner, a device whose previous incarnations already did the job pretty well. They’ve also made an assortment of over-engineered hair care products, hand dryers, and other products.

Now, they’re introducing the “Dyson Zone”. It’s a “wearable purifier” that captures air pollution. It’s a set of headphones, too, one that cancels noise. It’s filtering so much! Oh, also, it looks absolutely ridiculous:

Headphones coupled with a mask-looking air purifier

So, what problems is Dyson trying to solve with this? From their announcement:

…the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 9 in 10 people globally breathe air that exceeds WHO guideline pollutant limits. Where NO2 pollution in cities decreased during the Covid-19 pandemic , levels have quickly returned to normal, or exceeded pre-pandemic levels across many global cities. It is estimated that more than 100 million people, around 20% of the European population, are exposed to long-term noise exposure above WHO guidance.

The world is afflicted with dirty air and too much noise. Those do seem like problems worth tackling. Perhaps we might curb pollution and work on cleaning the air at large. We might also invent quieter machinery and devices. Making the entire world a better place, that’s a noble goal.

On the other hand, that sounds like quite a lot of effort. Why not just have the wealthy go through the world wearing noise-cancelling headphones that also clean their air, but no one else’s. Hey, these weird-looking jerks had the hundreds of dollars1 necessary to buy this product. They deserve it!

Of course, they are still going to get sick from COVID-19. That’s because despite the fact that it looks like a mask, and hides your mouth like a mask, the Dyson Zone doesn’t actually function as a mask. That might seem a bit strange in the era of our global pandemic, but it’s the result of this project taking six years.

Rich might have a point.


  1. The actual retail price is unannounced, but it will surely be $200 or (much) more. ↩︎

I Was So Blind 

Also, “Flamethrowers? Really?” is a good name for a bill.

Recently, a man named Andre Abrams reportedly brandished a flamethrower over a parking dispute. That’s rather nuts, though Abrams indicates he was driven to it:

“This family, how could I say this — the worst thing that could ever happen to a neighborhood,” Abrams said. “They’ve had issues with other residents, and it needs to be brought to light.”

Brought to light? Or set alight?

Anyhow, this article has taught me some things. I now know that it is apparently legal to buy and posses a flamethrower almost everywhere in America.

“You’ve probably wondered if you can own a flamethrower, and guess what? You can!” [X Products LLC of Vancouver, Washington] said in a promotional video last year. “No permits or licenses needed.” It said the devices are legal to buy and own in every state except Maryland or California.

I had not previously wondered if I could own a flamethrower, because I simply assumed I could not. How foolish of me! Now I’ve learned something new and exciting! Still, however, I’m sure that flamethrowers are prohibitively expensive, right?

The XM42 Lite costs just $599

Oh. Oh my. That’s frighteningly affordable. It also looks both amazing and ridiculous:

A ridiculous-looking flamethrower

Aside from the need to sign a legal waiver and the likelihood of severe burns, the biggest drawback I see is giving money to a company called “Prepper Gun Shop”. Still, I can’t say I’m not tempted.

I’m Saving Hundreds of Microseconds Each Day

A hundred microseconds here, a hundred microseconds there, pretty soon you're talking about real seconds.

In 18+ years over at my day job, we’ve shipped over 800 different software updates for our products. Sometimes, those updates contain a slew of new features and changes, given us lots to talk about and promote. Other times, well, it goes the other way. It can be difficult to come up with interesting marketing copy when a release mostly just cleans up some boring things on the backend, invisible to the user.

Thus, I can understand how the makers of Weather Line (an excellent weather app for iOS) wound up here:

Feature touting the addition of a degree symbol for “fastr glance-ability”

That understanding didn’t make it any less ridiculous, however. Just to compare, here’s a before and after shot:

Image showing temperature without a degree symbol, and then with a degree symbol

I don’t know quite how much time that “faster glance-ability” is saving me, but I’ve probably blown several lifetimes’ worth of savings writing this post. And then you read it! Thank you for joining me on this time-wasting journey.

Protecting What’s Important

Thank god someone is thinking of the logs and lumber in all of this.

As discussed last week, our inboxes are being deluged with COVID-19 related emails. From financial institutions telling me all about the marvels of online banking to hotels I haven’t stayed at in years assuring me they’ve got a room for me, every company I’ve ever even looked at wants to let me know that we’re all in this together.

Behind each of these emails, there’s a tremendously misguided marketer responsible for sending it. I like to picture them sitting, sweating, terrified at the idea of a customer one day thinking “Hey! I just realized LensCrafters never checked in on me during the pandemic! Those insensitive jerks!”.

Since mid-March, I’ve been running an informal contest to find the absolute most ridiculous emails sent in relation to COVID-19. I’ve spotted some good ones myself, and friends have provided more. Most recently, friend-of-the-site Quentin C. submitted a real doozy. The subject gets us off to a great start: “Protecting Logs and Lumber in Uncertain Times”.

Oo, tell me more, UC Coatings LLC!

During these uncertain times you may find yourself storing logs and lumber longer than usual. This can cause problems leading to degrade and loss, impacting your bottom line. U-C Coatings, the leader in wood protection, is currently operating during the COVID-19 pandemic and we are here for you. We feature a full line of products to help you protect your logs and lumber from checking, staining and splitting, minimizing your risk of loss.

They certainly checked all the boxes, including mentioning “these uncertain times” and letting us know they’re “here” for us. I’m not sure if they’re just letting me know they’re open, or also informing me that I can call them and sob if I need to. I mean, they don’t say I can’t.

It’s difficult for me to imagine the mindset of someone who thinks “We need to remind people to protect their logs!” in the midst of all this. But even if that were necessary, skip the lead-in. Just vaguely mention the economic slowdown, and this would be a lot less tacky. And as for being “here for me”? You’re not here for me! You’re there, for yourselves, to earn money. That’s fine – you’re a business! You can just say “we’re open”.

Have you seen your own amusingly needless email? I invite you to submit your own nomination for “Most Superfluous COVID-19 Email”. Good luck beating “wood protection products” though.

Ridiculous Products: Idiotic COVID-19 Touch Tools

This idea seems to be as contagious as COVID-19 itself. Also, let's make “Trumpery” a thing.

If you’ve been reading the news online, watching television, listening to the radio, or having conversations with any other human beings, you may be aware that there’s a global pandemic going on. It’s smart to take some basic safety precautions to protect yourself and others. This includes social distancing, frequent hand washing, and wearing a mask when you go out.

What you really don’t need is a fake metal finger to touch things for you. And yet, in recent days I have been shown five different variations of a “touch tool”, via ads on Instagram and other places.

These are promotional images from five different products.

Firstaball1, just how many elevator buttons is the average person pressing in a day, particularly these days? And secondaball2, has no one considered just using a knuckle?

I suspect part of the reason I’m seeing this pop up so much is that I just can’t stop clicking the ads. The first time, my sheer amazement at the stupidity of the idea compelled me to learn more. Since then, I’ve been stunned that hey, there’s a different version of the same nonsense again. The various robots working behind the scenes are undoubtedly mistaking my clicks for serious interest in this ludicrous concept.

From the $6 “Clean Key” by “Vetted Security solutions” (who also offer an optional $15 Tiger King-themed paint job) all the way up to the egregiously expensive $35 “Keychain Touch Tool” from Peel, it seems everyone is looking to cash in by making a touch tool. Three of them are even using the exact same “Clean Key” name! One claims to be “The Original Clean Key”, but much like a Ray’s Pizza in New York City, you should be skeptical.

Meanwhile, KeySmart’s version of the CleanKey has the benefit of looking sort of like a Tommy Gun:

If you get this model, you can make rat-a-tat-tat machine gun sounds as you imagine you’re blowing away the virus. You won’t be, of course, but it’s fun to pretend. Keep the change, ya filthy pathogen!

KeySmart’s site features an infomercial-style video, which included this delightfully cheesy frame:

The “As Seen On TV” production values you see should tell you a lot about what we’re dealing with here.

However, the version I’ve seen advertised most often makes a point of focusing on quality. The COVID-KEY is made by Milspin, a company which sells “high end CNC products for American patriots”. That appears to mean making accessories for motorcycles and firearms that feature all manner of trademark infringement, as well as juvenile quips like “Get McFucked”. But hey, if you need your handgun to show off the brand of chewing tobacco you favor, Milspin has you covered:

Barvd 🙊

Milspin is making their own claims to originality, urging customers not to fall for “the knock-off pre-order China made keys!”, which appears to be a jab directed at KeySmart.

Regardless of who makes it, or in what country, a touch tool remains a useless waste of time, energy, and material. The design implies you should attach it to your keychain, where you also have, ya know, keys. If you really feel the need to avoid pressing buttons, those keys themselves have you covered pretty well.

It’s true that a standard key can’t grip and pull, while these tools can. But after they do, they’re going into your pocket or purse. Unless the tool is sanitized after each use, it’s just going to serve as a possible vector for moving the virus onto your other possessions. When you reach in to pull it out again, you’re definitely getting virus all over your hands.

The idea for this trumpery3 is itself like a virus, one which has infected metal fabricators across the internet. It’s often said the great minds think alike. The proliferation of these touch tools makes it clear that dumb minds think alike as well.


  1. This is an amazing formulation I received in an email from someone for whom English was a second language. I have since adopted it for comedic purposes. ↩︎

  2. Honestly, “secondaball” cracks me up even more, but I seldom manage to get to it in conversation. ↩︎

  3. Unlike the two previous example this is a real word in the dictionary and everything. It has centuries of history, but I learned of it only recently. It’s a fancier way of saying “crap”:

    I can’t believe “trumpery” hasn’t gotten traction in the past four years. Let’s change that! ↩︎

Click to Pray 

Do rosaries really need to be brought into the 21st century?

Forget your internet-enabled toasters or hair brushes. The Vatican’s new eRosary seems like the example of a device that has been “smartened” unnecessarily.

Ridiculous Products: Sexy Beyond Burger Costume

The burger-to-bun ratio on this sandwich would be terrible.

Today marks the first day of October, which means it’s time to buckle down and decide what type of sexy you’ll be this Halloween.1 Will you be a sexy nurse? Perhaps a sexy pirate? You can even be a sexy Mr. Rogers.2 You know you have to be some kind of sexy, and the options are nearly limitless in the awfulness that is 2019.

New this year is a sexy Beyond Burger costume. This is problematic in multiple ways. In addition to its name likely being a trademark violation, it’s also the sexualization of a veggie burger. That’s more than a little bizarre, which I suppose pretty standard when it comes to modern costumes.

Initially, I thought the bestworst3 part of the whole thing was the headband. Multiple fake meat purveyors have had restaurants place little flags on their burgers, to serve as a tiny form of advertising. This costume goes with the more generic “plant based” phrase, which has become incredibly trendy in 2019, but the idea is the same.

However, this implies 1) That your brain is plant-based, which sounds sort of like an insult, and 2) That there’s a massive toothpick stuck right through your skull. The latter is actually rather on-point for a proper, scary Halloween costume, so maybe this horrible idea could be redeemed with a bit of stage makeup and effects.

There’s no redeeming the actual worst part though, which is this:

A stamp on the rear end of the costume says 'Certified Not Grade A'.

I guess the thinking was that since it’s not animal meat, your ass can’t be Grade A. But like the plant based brain, this too looks like an insult to the wearer. How about “Certified: Better Than Grade A”? Or “Certified: Hot!”. Anything would be better than this. Also, your ass kind of is animal meat, when you get right down to it.

This one detail alone is almost as bad as the previously featured Bad Ass socks. The total of all of it is much worse.


  1. Alternately or synonymously, “slutty↩︎

  2. This may be a new low, and even more ridiculous than the Beyond costume. It’s also deeply, deeply weird, so weird that I don’t feel I can cover it properly. To each their own, I know, but if you’re a person who finds this appealing, I don’t know what to say to you. That hairpiece is something else. ↩︎

  3. I was torn as to which word to use here, and wound up creating a new one instead. I rather like it. ↩︎

My Apple Dumbwatch

Back in 2015, I purchased an Apple Watch to replace both my previous analog watch and the latest in a string of fitness trackers. The watch’s activity tracking functionality has worked well for me.1 While I’ve always tried to keep fit, closing the rings for calories burned (“Move”), active minutes (“Exercise”), and standing (“Stand”) has provided added motivation each day. Earning badges for streaks and other achievements has provided a fun, if rather inane, incentive to be more active.

Early last month, the Apple Watch issued an “October Challenge”. This was an individually tailored goal, one which seemed to be based on recent activity. I screwed myself by spending the summer ramping up for a marathon, which led my watch to require that I hit 3,347 minutes of exercise in October to complete this challenge. An average of nearly 108 minutes of activity every single day for a month struck me as a bit much, even if it would earn me the electronic equivalent of a “A+ Patient” sticker from the pediatrician.

Despite the fact that my marathon training was nearly complete and I was tapering down my runs, I wasn’t smart enough to dismiss the challenge outright. I figured I’d see how things went throughout the month, knowing that my race was in mid-October, and that I had a half-marathon before that as well. Every few days I checked in on my progress with the Activity app on my phone, and each time I found that I wasn’t too far off the necessary pace. With some extra effort each day, it was actually possible I could meet the objective.

Even so, it wasn’t until the last few days of the month that it became clear that this ridiculous goal was attainable. It required me to get moving even more than I already was, but the weather looked nice, it was good for my health, and THE ANGRY WATCH GOD MUST BE APPEASED.

So it was that just before 6 PM on October 30th, I checked my phone and saw that I was only 155 minutes shy of the target. With a busy day planned for the 31st, I felt good enough to grab a screenshot to mark my progress.

A first screenshot showing 3192 minutes earned.
1804 minutes left in the month, but only 155 of them needed to be active.

The next day, I tracked the exercise counter on the watch itself as it climbed throughout my day of activity. I was going to make it, and I was foolishly pleased by this asinine little achievement. The device’s expectations for me had been stupidly aggressive, but I was going to enjoy showing an inanimate electronic device what was what. I knew that this would likely raise its expectations still higher for the next month, but that was November Paul’s problem.

However, in the late afternoon of the 31st, I made what seems to have been a key error in judgement. Specifically, I updated my phone to iOS 11.1 and my watch to WatchOS 4.1. I didn’t really think anything of this as I did it, though not for the first time I found myself annoyed by how long the watch took to update. Once it finally finished, I strapped the watch back on and went about my day.

By Halloween night, I had completed almost three hours of activity for the day, and I knew I was set. Just before 11 PM, I opened the Activity app on the phone to gaze upon my newly won badge for the first time. This is what I saw instead:

A later screenshot showing 3064 minutes earned.
29 hours later, I’d somehow lost time.

Well that’s…not right. That’s not even possible! How exactly did I manage to do negative 128 minutes of activity since the previous day? I quickly found myself in the first two stages of grief, denial (“What the hell?”) and anger (“What the hell!”).

With just 77 minutes left in the month, the watch now claimed I was almost 300 minutes short of the prescribed goal. Even if I literally ran out the rest of the month it wouldn’t change anything. As such, I quickly jumped to the last stage of grief, acceptance (“What the hell.”). I figured that if nothing else, this ought to lower the watch’s demands for the future.

I spent the dwindling minutes of October pondering what in the world had happened. The OS updates had likely affected things somehow, but had they changed the way past activity was calculated? I scanned through each day’s readings and punched the daily recorded activity into a quick spreadsheet. This was the result:

Spreadsheet showing a total of 3369 minutes
That just raises further questions!2

Ultimately, the problem here seems to be with the Apple Watch’s addition skills. That’s pretty bad, as proper math is rather essential for a usable computing device. Alternately, I suppose the problem could be that Apple’s Numbers spreadsheet application can’t do simple calculations. That would certainly be even more shocking. Perhaps the two products are even in some sort of cahoots, the exact nature of which I’ve yet to ascertain.

Either way, I’m trying to maintain a Zen attitude about this. The only thing stupider than spending an entire month overexerting myself to earn a meaningless digital badge would be getting upset when said badge is denied due to some sort of bug. All we are is dust in the wind, and all this is is pixels in the ether. Still, I do think it would be nice if my watch could count.

Update (November 2nd, 2017): It seems that yesterday afternoon, my watch finally got done performing a recount, and awarded me my badge. Read more here.


  1. One particularly nice thing is that the Apple Watch tracks calories burned directly, rather than the rather imperfect stand-in “steps” used by earlier trackers I’d tried. It was always clear that something was off when running five miles earned the same number of steps as walking about half as far. ↩︎

  2. The relevant video clip is archived here. ↩︎

Ridiculous Products: Kérastase Hair Coach

The Consumer Electronics Show (also known as CES) just finished up last week, and as always, it was full of a plethora of technology you almost certainly don’t need. While it can be fun to see what’s coming in the future, it’s perhaps more enjoyable to laugh at the bizarre future some companies envision. To that end, allow me to present the Kérastase Hair Coach.

If you’ve ever thought “This hair brush just isn’t smart enough”, while also thinking “I’d be willing to spend almost two hundred dollars on a hairbrush”, then the Hair Coach is for you. Of course, it’s likely that this site is not for you, so you may wish to stop reading now.

The Hair Coach is much like Zoolander, in that it’s not an ambi-turner, and also because it’s very stupid.

The CEO of Withings, the company behind the Hair Coach, was quoted as saying “The last thing we want to do is turn a simple device into a complex device”. So naturally, his company added wi-fi and Bluetooth to a hairbrush. But they didn’t stop there. The brush also includes (taken directly from their press release):

  • A microphone that listens to the sound of hair brushing to identify patterns, providing insights into manageability, frizziness, dryness, split ends and breakage.

  • 3-axis load cells that measure the force applied to the hair and the scalp when brushing.

  • An accelerometer and a gyroscope which help further analyze brushing patterns and count brush strokes, with haptic feedback signaling if brushing is too vigorous.

  • Conductivity sensors to determine if the brush is being used on dry or wet hair, in order to provide an accurate hair measurement.

If you’ve ever felt like you weren’t brushing up to your full potential, the solution is here. If you were perfectly at peace with your hair brushing, and your life in general, I’m sorry to tell you those days are over. You’re bad at brushing, and you should feel bad about your brushing. Only the Hair Coach can save you now.

I recognize that I am far from the target market for this device. I won’t even venture a prediction that this product will be unsuccessful. I will however state, without equivocation, that this is a ridiculous product which should not exist.