On this day in 1935, Ron Popeil was born.
Popeil is an American inventor and marketing personality, best known for his direct response marketing company Ronco. He is well known for his appearances in infomercials for the Showtime Rotisserie (“Set it, and forget it!”) and for using the phrase, “But wait, there’s more!” on television as early as the mid-1950s.
If you’re interested in reading more about Popeil, I recommend Malcolm Gladwell’s book What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures. In it Ron Popeil is interviewed and many of his products, most notably the Veg-O-Matic and Showtime Rotisserie, are discussed.
After the jump, you’ll find some of his products and their original sales pitches:
- Chop-O-Matic hand food processor. “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to show you the greatest kitchen appliance ever made … All your onions chopped to perfection without shedding a single tear.”
- Dial-O-Matic, successor to the Veg-O-Matic (and very similar to a mandolin slicer). “Slice a tomato so thin it only has one side.”
- Popeil Pocket Fisherman. “The biggest fishing invention since the hook … and still only $19.95!” (According to the program Biography, the original product was the invention of Popeil’s father and only marketed by Ronco, but as of 2006, Popeil had introduced a redesigned version of the product.)
- Mr. Microphone: a short-range hand-held radio transmitter that broadcast over FM radios. A convertible rolls up to a curb and an enthusiastic young man shouts out “Hey, good looking, I’ll be back to pick you up later!” followed by the pitch “Broadcast your voice on any FM radio!!!”
- Inside-The-Shell Egg Scrambler. “Gets rid of those slimy egg whites in your scrambled eggs.” Popeil has said the inspiration for this product was his lifelong revulsion toward incompletely blended scrambled eggs.
- Six Star 20-Piece Cutlery Set
- Showtime Rotisserie, a small rotisserie oven designed for cooking smaller sized portions of meat such as whole chicken and lamb. “Set it, and forget it!”
- Solid Flavor Injector. This product accompanied the Showtime Rotisserie and was used to inject solid ingredients into meat or other foods. A similar product, called the Liquid Flavor Injector, allowed for the injecting of liquid ingredients into meat, e.g., lime juice into chicken.
- GLH-9 Hair in a Can Spray (Great Looking Hair Formula #9)
- Drain Buster
- Smokeless Ashtray: “Does cigar and cigarette smoke irritate your eyes?” Commercials showed this device drawing smoke from burning cigarettes back into the ashtray itself.
- Electric Food Dehydrator: “Instead of giving kids candy, give them apple snacks or banana chips. And it’s great if you’re a hunter, fisherman, backpacker, or camper. Makes beef jerky for around $3 a pound, and you know what went in it, because you made it yourself!”
- Ronco Popeil Automatic Pasta Maker
- The Cap Snaffler: “Snaffles caps off any size jug, bottle, or jar … and it really, really works.”
- The Showtime Six Star Plus 25 Knife Set and the Solid Flavor Injector: “Three easy payments of $13.33!”