Ryn: Useless items you must have but never need

Three types of people can see suckers coming a mile away: con artists, used shoe salesmen and folks who create totally useless items.

We all know these useless items – as seen on TV! – they can chop, chip, slice, dice, clean, steam or make you svelte and foxy in the blink of an eye.


The Nana Saver is a waste of dough/Ryn Gargulinski

I’m one of those suckers for these gadgets, with closets, garage corners and drawers stuffed with such miracle stuff that promises to make life easier, breezier and much more fun.

Like the automatic banana slicer. While it sounds like a gem, this hunk of junk is basically a hard piece of plastic with slats you press on top of the banana so slices emerge. The slices end up more like little lumps and cleaning the thing takes triple the time it would have taken if you just sliced the damn banana with a knife.

Bananas seem to have a host of miracle items associated with them, such as the worthless but quite attractive banana holder, which is supposed to keep the fruit from rotting by suspending it a half-inch above the countertop on a tree-like pole, and the miraculous “Nana Saver.”

This small, plastic sleeve fits snugly with a spring latch over the cut end of a banana so it doesn’t turn mushy and brown. In theory.

I tried it once and found the cut banana rotten as usual and the Nana Saver two shelves down in the fridge where it had fallen after the pinched spring came unpinched.

Never trust a Nana Saver.

You should never trust anything that says you will instantly look younger, become firmer or lose weight.

The real deal to losing weight is a simple formula: burn off more calories than you consume.

The life-saving Knit Lite/Ryn Gargulinski

The life-saving Knit Lite/Ryn Gargulinski

Since that’s kind of boring and might actually take some effort, folks prefer to spend thousands of bucks on contraptions that promise flatter abs, a firmer fanny or biceps that rival Schwarzenegger’s, all of which can be achieved while they are watching TV.

Thankfully I have never fallen prey to miracle weight loss products – not even the Neck Slimmer, which looks like a fun, pump-action way to deplete the double chin – although I was once tempted, briefly, to invest in a Thigh Master.

The flashlight, too, pops up on all types of strange gadgets, like the item I recently spotted in the clearance aisle of the neighborhood Michaels arts and craft store.

For only $3.99, marked down from $7.99, you could own a set of light-up knitting needles. The Knit Lite, as the product was called, insures you’d never miss a knit-one-pearl-two beat all those times you are stuck in a dark cave or under a rock and have the rabid urge to knit.

Other ridiculous flashlight items include light-up pens, which are cool in theory but never sufficiently light anything enough to produce more than an illegible scribble, and light-up jester hats. Why anyone would need a jester hat of any sort is another issue altogether.

I must give a hand, however, to those little light-up trinkets you attach to dog collars to insure you can find your pooch in the dark.

True, it did make my dog Sawyer freak out to the point where he just stood there, unable to move, so he would have been easy to find anyway. But at least I could more easily keep an eye on him to make sure he didn’t take off with my freshly and automatically sliced banana.

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who has a lot of banana-related plastic items for sale. Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Listen to her webcast at 4 p.m. Fridays at www.Party934.com. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com.


Are you a sucker for impulse buys and creative infomercials?

What’s the most useless item you ever purchased?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
This entry was posted in life. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Ryn: Useless items you must have but never need

  1. leftfield says:

    The miracles of modern American consumer culture.  As long as it’s priced at $19.99, shiny and plastic, you can sell it to someone.

    “All what we got here is American-made
    It’s a little bit cheesy, but it’s nicely displayed”

    Flakes – Frank Zappa

    • Carl says:

      Hey leftfield, thought I’d check in to see how the Citizen and the communists have survived. Looks pretty bleak. Voice of Tucson?
      BTW, how come you are not rejecting this site and railing against Gannett News for raping the ADS by getting half their profits and only running this cheesy website in return? Capitalist pigs.
      Anyway, Ill check back at the end of the year to get your thoughts and the latest from the Voice of Tucson.

  2. radmax says:

    Mornin’ Rynski! Those ‘nana thingys seem to be a waste of cash, hope you got yours gratis….now the ‘glow in the dark’ knitting needles, there’s something all good serial killers should have in their bag of tricks. Perfect for that stormy night when the power is off, yet you still have to complete your tally for the night. PS-you don’t have any of those, do you Rynski?

  3. Rynski says:

    Mornin’ RadMax! Great idea on the knitting needles – ha! No, no light-up knitting needles for me. Those were plastic. Someone told me the wooden needles are much more efficient for such things – haha.
    Speaking of plastic – you got it, Lefty. It’s very scary the amount of plastic junk circulating – and being bought – for $19.99. Thank goodness the Nana Saver was only $1.59. We live in a wholly disposable culture.

  4. azmouse says:

    I went through a huge infomercial stage of life years ago.
    ‘But wait, there’s more’!
    I have the perfect pancake maker, the snack master which makes fabulous snacks in no time, the omelet maker and the mega-sized George Foreman grill, back when you could only order it off the t.v.
    I also have the entire collection of songs from the seventies…(cost me hundreds, and I really just wanted the song ‘Brandy’.) Also the eighties hair bands and ballads collection.
    Have all the Ginsu knives, just in case I wanted to cut a tomato in the air, oh, and those pasta pots. You get two sizes, and the lid has the little drainage holes on the top.
    The list goes on and on, but I shant bore you any longer…….

    I will admit here and now, I do have a small, kitchen appliance addiction I’ve been dealing with for some time.

    • Rynski says:

      Hiya AZMouse,
      I’ll trade you the Ginsu knives for the Nana Saver.

      • azmouse says:

        Gee, Ryn…..I mean I’m sure the Nana Saver is great and all, but I have this thing about cutting my tomatoes in the air. I’d do anything for you, but you understand, right?

      • Rynski says:

        Yes, I guess I understand. Slicing tomatoes in the air has to be higher on the list of amusements than saving a nana.

      • Karen Nelson says:

        Wow… I have nothing to trade… I am not a collector (I’ve moved too many times!). And I can proudly say I have never bought anything from an infomercial… yet!

    • leftfield says:

      Great – you mentioned “Brandy”.  Now it will be another week before that song leaves my head.

      “Brandy, you’re a fine girl
      What a good wife you would be…”

      I believe that the number of suicides caused by the inability to clear that song from one’s head is vastly underreported.

  5. ericheithaus says:

    I’m the proud owner of and electric carrot/potato peeler. It’s only way to peel!

    • azmouse says:

      Doesn’t it peel everything?? Apples and stuff too?

    • Rynski says:

      Hi Eric,
      I’ll trade you the electric carrot/potato peeler for a Nana Saver!
      My peeling is lacking, although I did get sucked into buying the “Titan,” which promised to peel and julianne veggies while it made weird shapes out of cheese. That one is not up for trade.

  6. ericheithaus says:

    az mouse,
    Apples yes, stuff maybe, remember safety first. It has saved me valuable seconds of my life.  I can’t ever imagine peeling the old fashoned way again.

  7. Tami says:

    Bananas don’t last long enough around my house to get a Nana Saver. I will confess that I have one of those “Salad Shooters”.  It was a waste of money. It chops things up, but makes it all mushy. Then, whatever didn’t get mushed, you can find sitting in between the blade insert and the blade insert housing compartment. What a nightmare. I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty lazy, but I chop my own vegetables. I don’t have the heart to dump the stupid contraption, though. It still sits in my cupboard, anxiously awaiting the next time it can mutilate my veggies.

    • azmouse says:

      Hi Tami,
      Might come in handy one day when you’re really old and have to mush up your veggies. lol

      Good to hear about it, so I don’t buy one.

  8. Pingback: How To Lose Weight - FREDDIE ROACH: “I’M GOING TO PUSH FOR THE TITLE” - Fighthype.com « How To Lose Weight

  9. Karen Nelson says:

    Most usefless thing I ever purchased? Hmmm… Probably a purchase I just did… my pole dancing shoes! But damn do my legs look great in them!

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