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VINCE OFFER: THE LEGEND GROWS BEYOND SHAM WOW!

Who’s Vince Offer, you say? WHO’S VINCE OFFER? Unless you’ve been in a coma or don’t own a television set, you have to know that Vince Offer is the television spokesman for SHAM WOW!, the super-absorbent towels that suck up twenty times their own weight in liquid. Yep, he’s the guy with the faux-mohawk hairdo and the cheap Lily Tomlin telephone headset pouring cola on a carpet swatch, asking if you’re “watching the camera, guy?” and doubling the offer for the next twenty minutes because “we can’t do this all day.” And then they run the offer all day every day at every commercial break on every single channel. Vince offer is the SHAM WOW! guy, and you’re not.

He’s a classic wise-ass thirty-something shnook who you either love or hate and he couldn’t care less what you decide as long as you buy a SHAM WOW! He spits out lines like “It’s made in Germany and you know they make good stuff over there” with a straight face and generally acts the role of a creepy but somehow still lovable flea market spielmeister. So successful is Vince Offer that he has now branched out to another cheesy product, a vegetable chopper called the SlapChop, no doubt earning a large piece of the action after his runaway success hawking SHAM WOWS! SlapChop is exactly what it says, a plastic cylinder you place over the onions and slap the handle on top hard to push the thin blades into the hapless onions. It looks like it will last a week or a dozen onions, whichever comes first. And if you act now (because we can’t do this all day!), he’ll also send you a flimsy hand held cheese grater called “Graty” for no additional charge.

Well, things weren’t always life on Easy Street for Vince Offer, not by a long shot. Before he put himself in a position to challenge Ron Popeil of “Pocket Fisherman” and “Vego-matic” fame for the most annoyingly successful shoddy products salesman on TV, he hawked a number of oddball products on TV infomercials that went nowhere. After a failed movie and a number of equally unsuccessful lawsuits trying to cash in on other people’s successful films by claiming they plagiarized his stink bomb of a flick, Vince was at a personal and professional crossroads. Then TV spieling beckoned and history was made. But he didn’t hit a home run his first time up. Along the way, honing his persona and sales pitch, he hawked some real doozies which understandably few of us have ever heard of. Consider these:

Lil’ Kitchen Chain Saw: This product was test marketed in an unnamed Third World country with no liability laws for manufacturers. The premise was how easy it would be to chop vegetables and tough cuts of meat with a mini chain saw. The only problem was, the chain saw wasn’t all that much smaller than a regular one and while it sold well, the predictable carnage in that nation’s home kitchens saw Vince and his producers hopping a flight home just before an angry lynch mob caught up with them. Undaunted, Vice Offer moved on to his next product:

Junior’s First Fireplace: The “real logs and real flames!” were the main selling point of this too-realistic toy. Well, without going into the sad and gory details, that turned out to be a better idea on paper than in reality. That “Use only under the supervision of a CPR and fire-fighting trained adult” warning label turned out not to be the ironclad legal protection the makers thought it would be. VInce was once again out of a job and his employers stiffed him because they were on the run from the law. Still undaunted, he moved on:

Pocket Defibrillator: A medical product aimed at the senior citizen crowd, those with serious heart conditions, this mini-defibrillator was portable and packed the punch of the real thing. Vince would shout “Clear!” with a demonic grin as he demonstrated the resuscitator on game older actors who looked like they’d rather be anywhere else as their limp bodies arced six inches off the demonstration table. The drawback was the heavy battery required to provide enough current to restart balky old hearts. It weighed over seventy pounds and was worn around the waist. Unfortunately, this hefty load caused more heart attacks than it prevented. Back to the drawing board for Vince:

Handy Andy Home Refinery: With gasoline prices rising, a group of enterprising entrepreneurs figured it was time to cut out the middle man and sell barrels of crude oil directly to consumers so that they could then refine it themselves in their own garage with the Handy Andy Home Refinery. With just a few simple steps drivers could produce cheap high-octane gasoline and save on fuel. Vince was brilliant and sold many units until a rash of serious explosions prompted the government to shut down the operation. Another great idea introduced before its time. Once again Vince Offer moved on:

Vaccu-Seal Blankets: Another money saving product promising to beat high fuel prices, this one aimed at slashing home heating costs. Vaccu-Seal Blankets were thick sheets of clear plastic designed to wrap around one’s bed with a nearly air-tight seal to keep people toasty warm on cold winter nights. One’s own body warmth was trapped and you were kept warm indefinitely. They worked great, but the the only drawback was that they tended to suffocate restless sleepers who rolled away from the narrow breathing slit during the night. Once again the manufacturers skipped town one step ahead of the authorities and Vince moved on to another product:

Scorpio-larm: The idea here was an inexpensive anti-car theft device. It consisted of a real scorpion and a prominent window decal warning potential car thieves that this car was “Protected by a highly poisonous scorpion.” The kit came with an antidote to the venom that the car owner was to swallow in case the scorpion mistook him for a car thief. Despite Vince’s convincing sales pitch, few units were sold. Then he discovered this product:

Glow Stones: Marketed as energy-saving night lights for kids’ rooms and garden paths, these brightly glowing stones turned out to be nuclear waste molded into ornamental shapes. Vince knew something was wrong when the manufacturers who handed him the stones were wearing thick lead-lined gloves and they radiated a lot of heat. He quickly developed a serious rash and quit the project. It would be months before he was healthy enough to hawk his next product:

Bucket O’ Bacteria: After his negative experience with the Glow Stones Vince didn’t stick around long enough to find out what this product was supposed to do and went in search of a new product to sell:

‘Lectric Fork: The ultimate utensil for fat, lazy slobs who don’t want to bother sticking their fork into their food and transferring it into their mouths under their own power, ‘Lectric Fork was actually a plug-in fork with a 30-foot extension cord that allowed diners the option of “assisted eating” all over the house. ‘Lectric Fork had a lot of torque and lifting power so that lifting huge forkfuls of even the heaviest food to one’s mouth was a snap, and twice as fast as “old-fashioned eating.” It also had a button for stabbing dense food, “saving time and energy for operating the remote!” It was a huge success but had a limited market due to its $700 price tag and the fact that it ran only on 440 watt power outlets, a rarity in most fat slobs’ homes. It did, however give Vince Offer the confidence to sell this next product:

Othodondist, Shmorthodontist!: Aimed at lower-income families whose children needed braces for their teeth, this inexpensive do-it-yourself kit included pliers, heavy-duty wire, rubber bands and wire snips along with detailed instructions on how to install your children’s braces and tighten them every so often as your kid’s buck teeth straighten out before your eyes in no time! No more Bugs Bunny jokes from those brats at school!” Vince assured viewers thatIt’s just wires and pliers, folks! Any shmo who knows his way around a tool box can do it! Why pay a fortune to some rich guy with a cockamamie degree from Orthodontics school? Order now, and we’ll include EXTRACTO at no extra charge, the easy-to-use rotten tooth puller that makes dentist bills yesterday’s news!”

Sales were brisk and Vince’s loopy performance  and inspired “wires and pliers” quote appealed to the importers of SHAM WOW!, so they signed him up and Vince Offer’s future was assured. Asked of his future plans, Vince said “I’ve got my eye on a promising new laser gizmo that kills weeds in your yard, providing they work out the bugs like not having the thing sever gas lines and water mains. I learned my lesson with Junior’s First Fireplace and that kitchen chain saw thing. Believe me, guy, smaller is better, and the fewer moving parts the thing has and the less power it uses, the better.” We all look forward to Vince Offer’s continued success. Love him or hate him, he’s here to stay.

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