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Weird things to buy
For better or worse, thanks to new, accelerated modes of communication, we’re exposed as never before to marketing for every imaginable product — and some we might never have imagined.
Here’s a dozen doozies plus one freebie discovered courtesy of the internet, ranging from “You’ve got to be kidding!” to “Why didn’t I think of that?”
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A pair and a spare
“If tires come with a spare, why not socks?” asks Edwin Heaven, a San Francisco-based entrepreneur whose latest invention, Throx, is being touted as a solution to the common washday problem of the disappearing sock. It might not solve the mystery of where they go, but it does offer a simple, practical way to deal with the loss. Throx are socks that come in sets of 3, so when one wanders off there’s another to take its place. They start at $13.33 a set.
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Lick your cat
LIVE with Kelly/Youtube
Sure, cats like to be groomed, but brushing isn’t the method they prefer. When cats groom themselves, each other or their humans, they lick.
Okay, licking your furry friend isn’t really an attractive option, what to speak of getting fur balls in your throat. But Licki Brush offers a compromise designed to deepen the bond with your feline. It’s a brush, yes, but instead of a handle there’s a clamp that fits between your teeth. Bite down and use licking motions to brush and bond. It’s $19; estimated availability is January 2017.
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Low-maintenance plant pet
Forget Chia Pets. The latest live plant pet is the Marimo Moss Ball Plant Pet, said to be a favorite in Japan.
The Marimo moss ball is really an algae, not a moss. It gets its name from its furry, round, squishy appearance.
Moss balls are aquatic, so they do well in an aquarium, though goldfish are likely to eat them. Maintenance consists of very little beyond squeezing the ball occasionally to get rid of the toxins it absorbs. They’re $17.95 for a gift-boxed kit that also includes a glass jar with cork lid, pebbles and sea fan.
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Scary 3-D shark T-shirt
More than 4 decades after “Jaws,” the continuing success of the “Sharknado” franchise and its spinoffs — which mix the terror of tornadoes with the frightening fish — make it clear that the shark is still the monster of choice for cheap thrills among horror movie fans. This licensed 3-D “Sharknado” Shark T-shirt, sporting a 3-dimensional stuffed shark’s head bursting out of a bloody chest, captures the schlock-horror campiness of the “Sharknado” brand. One size fits most, or so the manufacturers claim. To own one, prepare for a $29.99 bite out of your budget — for limited use, since it’s not washable.
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A multi-purpose collar stay
A must for James Bond wannabes, collar stays that also function as handy tools when needed are available in titanium or stainless steel. The super lightweight Titanium Multi-Tool Collar Stay can be used to tighten screws, slice threads or open bottles. At $30 a pair, they’re also designed to be strung on a keychain for more casual dressers. But consider this alternative: the stainless steel option offers the same functions, is magnet-compatible and includes a ruler for good measure. For $45, you get a set of 4 packed in a case that doubles as a luggage tag.
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The nocturnal jogger’s foot lights
No need to carry a flashlight for walking or jogging at night when you clip the Path Illuminating Shoe Lights to your shoelaces. The 75-lumen LED lights are certain to add a real glow to every step you take. Each one illuminates the terrain up to nearly 50 feet ahead in a 270-degree arc. A rear-facing red light alerts approaching pedestrians or drivers to your presence.
The Li-ion battery in each light lasts 4-8 hours. A split USB cable for simultaneous recharging is included. So tread or peddle ahead lightly for $59.95. The set also features a convenient carrying bag.
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Made to look like a trashcan, the Original Po’ Man Charcoal Grill and Cooker touts “meals fit for millionaires” with a design to satisfy your “inner country boy.” Billed as both portable and capacious, the Po’ Man grill is fueled by charcoal and rubbing alcohol, and allegedly is all you’ll need to roast meat, fish and vegetables, just like any outdoor cooker. It’s constructed of durable rolled steel and stainless metals, and sports high temperature-resistant paint. Could create meals full of flavor — but is this really in good taste?
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Cost: starts at $99
Looking for some artwork that’s sure to make a lasting impression? A hand-painted, oil-on-canvas reproduction from Nobilified will put you in the picture. Literally.
To commission a portrait, choose a famous painting from the company’s extensive online gallery, which ranges from depictions of classical gods and goddesses to renditions of royalty and Japanese samurai. Then upload a photograph of yourself in a similar pose. The doctored masterpiece should arrive about a month later.
Portraits are available in a variety of sizes.
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Can you bear this?
Cost: $100 (for the bear’s head)
Finally — an option for those who crave hunting lodge decor without having to resort to trophy hunting. Stewart Cardboard Bear Head is just one of a menagerie of animal busts available from Cardboard Safari. Consumers can not only get moose, deer, elephants, rhinos, bison and lions, but also a choice of fanciful creatures, from dragons to unicorns. Each is made of environmentally friendly cardboard.
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Talk to your socks
The humble sock has apparently not been given enough attention of late. BlackSocks, Swiss purveyors of men’s dress socks, has upgraded its classic calf-length model to “smart” socks, with communication buttons that talk to your iPhone. Here’s what the app will tell you: which socks belong together; how often you have washed your socks; when your socks were produced, ordered and dispatched; and when it’s time to buy a new batch. It will, of course, help with the re-order as well.
A starter set of 10 pairs (with sock sorter) is $189.
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A laundry helpmate
Cost: $700-$850 (target price)
Soon to come on the market, FoldiMate, a robotic clothes- and laundry-folding machine, promises to get the job done twice as fast as manual folding. Just feed up to 20 items at a time into the machine and they’ll pop out in seconds, crisply folded and ready to store.
Extra options include perfume, softening and sanitation capsules to treat clothes as they’re being folded, and a “de-wrinkling process,” though promoters admit “it won’t replace ironing your dress shirt.” Ah. So we’ll still have to iron.
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A portable cellar you can bury
Cost: About $16,000
Communes with a back-to-nature bent can now “handle their food in an autonomous, independent way” with Groundfridge, a new-age root cellar. Offering the same storage capacity as up to 12 refrigerators, the Groundfridge, developed in Europe, is buried about a meter underground. It uses the insulating capacity of the ground and cooler night air temperatures to keep food and beverages fresh year-round — with the help of a high-tech ventilation system that does require some electricity. Not as much as 12 refrigerators would use, of course, but survivalists take note: You won’t be completely off the grid (though solar is an option).
Cost for one with a storage capacity of 6 refrigerators is about $16,000.
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4-foot tall brainteaser
Surely the ultimate in executive toys, the 3-Dimensional Labyrinth Orb, an acrylic sphere suspended within a stainless steel gimbaled mount, houses a complex network of hairpin turns, zig-zags and channels. The objective: Guide a 5/8-inch wooden marble through any of 6 intertwined courses by tilting the globe in various directions. The difficulty level can be customized.
Handmade of Finnish birch, each labyrinth takes more than 400 hours to construct. Lest you think this an extremely elaborate waste of time and money, promoters insist it “challenges the limits of your manual dexterity and spatial understanding.”
It’s a puzzling way to spend $40,000.
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Fried chicken is the new Chanel
Cost: No longer available
Kentucky Fried Chicken recently announced a giveaway of a new product called KFC’s Extra Crispy Sunscreen — an SPF-30 sunscreen they say exudes “a healthy chicken aroma.” Either that special fragrance of poultry deep-fried in cooking oil really is irresistible, or people will take anything that’s free: the 3,000 promotional samples were snatched up immediately. Promoters say there are no plans for putting the item on the market. But fast-foodies take heart: KFC is market-testing lickable chicken-flavored nail polish in Hong Kong. Talk about “Finger-Lickin’ Good!”