Milwaukee -- Infomercial products may vary, from exercise machines to programmable mattresses, but most have a few common traits -- they all sound so great, and they all seem so cheap!
It's no wonder viewers feel compelled to purchase the latest gadget featured on those late-night pitch-fests!
They're not alone.
In less than six years, product development company Edison Nation has sold more than eight million packages of Eggies, Emery Cat, Mister Steamy and Gyro Bowl.
Reviews on the Internet for all these products range from glowing to downright angry, so we decided to put each one through our own rigorous testing.
We found each of them were well-made to perform as intended, but we were disappointed they did not live up to all of the promises repeated in the famous infomercials that spawned their popularity.
Eggies is a patented process for making hard-boiled eggs without the shell using four plastic pieces that screw together to hold a raw egg in place as it cooks.
The commercial at https://www.geteggiestv.com claims it is "the fast, easy way to cook hard-boiled eggs."
It wasn't fast or easy for us.
We followed the two-page instructions, which include coating the inside of the plastic with cooking spray (adding a few unwanted calories and chemicals to our eggs).
We struggled to connect the top and bottom halves; the directions say "secure" the collar but do not clarify whether you are supposed to twist it or snap it to get the collar to stay in place.
After it seemed tight, we had to carefully crack and pour the raw egg into the small opening in the capsule to avoid a mess, and then we were ready to drop them in the water.
The infomercial claims you just "crack, cook and twist," but there is much more to it than that.
If you follow the directions, you have to cook them for 14 to 19 minutes -- about four minutes longer than eggs with shells.
While our Eggies were in the boiling water, we realized that we didn't seal them tight enough, since some of the egg whites seeped into the water.
Then we still had to wait several minutes for them to cool before opening them up.
Finally, we were dismayed to have to wash all the pieces when we were done.
It seemed to us it would have been easier to just spend the 30 seconds to peel each egg.
We found the entire process to make hard-boiled eggs using Eggies actually takes longer than the traditional method.
The advertisement also claims that Eggies make "a perfect hard-boiled egg every time."
We agree that they are closer to perfection than eggs that lose some white chunks when you peel the shell, but our Eggies did have some pockmarks.
If egg peeling is painful because of arthritis, then Eggies are a plus.
Otherwise, we prefer to avoid anything that means washing more dishes!
The low price in the infomercial does not include shipping and handling, so Eggies actually cost $18 for a half dozen or $26 for a dozen.
Even with the free slicer, and the nice feature that you can add spices before cooking, it didn't seem worth the money to us.
But money isn't everything, so we gave the next product review to some consumers who didn't care one whiff about the cost.
We introduced Emery Cat to a couple four-legged friends with no biases and no interest in this sloping scratching board designed to dull claws.
The infomercial at https://www.emerycat.com claims that "your cat can trim her own claws" with the device, but our four-year-old feline refused to stand on it, play on it, stretch on it, or go anywhere near it.
Anytime we put her on the corrugated surface, she just jumped off.
So we tried the 10-month-old kitten, who seemed a bit interested in the attached toy -- for a few seconds.
After that, the second cat rejected it too -- running away rapidly.
We loved the concept of a scratching board that files cats' nails while they play, but it clearly can't work if the cats won't even step on it.
We also tried covering it with catnip, which these pets normally love, but they turned up their noses.
We even moved the board from room to room and left it out for the cats to explore for days.
We couldn't get them to touch it at all, even though both cats regularly use scratching posts.
Though it comes with a bonus cat brush, the $28 dollars for this pet purchase might as well have lined the litter box.
So we're hoping we won't get taken to the cleaners by any more inventions.
Mister Steamy promises to emit steam “to release wrinkles and creases" inside a dryer.
The dryer ball is supposed to make clothes softer and smoother, even after clothes sit in the machine for hours.
We found that it was very easy to use: "Just add water and toss it in," as the infomercials explains at https://www.mistersteamy.com.
We weren't too happy the steam ball left the first load of towels a little damp.
We admit the second load of kids’ clothes was dry and mostly free of wrinkles, aside from just a couple garments, but the instructions require high heat.
The high setting is often avoided because it can shrink clothes and nearly all labels say "tumble dry low."
And we have found that high heat tends to take out wrinkles even without steam.
Although the narrator claims "Mister Steamy softens clothes as they dry for fluffier fabrics," our laundry didn't seem any softer or fluffier.
The fresh-shot odor-remover is a nice bonus, and we like the fact that Mister Steamy is supposed to help the environment by replacing fabric softeners and dryer sheets -- making the $27 price tag worth it if you can eliminate those from your shopping list and you don't mind static cling, which is not eliminated by the steaming dryer ball.
If you could save that much money on spilled snacks, then the $25 cost of two Gyro Bowls would be justified.
The infomercial at https://www.buygyrobowl.com claims that "the Gyro Bowl keeps all your snacks inside, however you bounce, swing or fly."
And we did find that cereal stays in the Gyro Bowl as it sways it back and forth, but we were skeptical that any product could be "100% absolutely, totally kid proof."
In fact, just swinging the bowl around more vigorously spills the contents and makes a mess, so we would not call it kid-proof or spill-proof either.
The snap-on lid is a nice feature, and we believe Gyro Bowl is a better option for a toddler than a regular bowl.
But we think you're better off ordering it from Amazon for a much lower price.
In fact, all of these products are cheaper through web retailers or stores than buying them during an infomercial pitch.
We did discover that all these products have a money back guarantee, including one that does not have an infomercial at all.
We learned about a new bottle warming system called WarmZe from a press release, and you can order it at http://www.warmze.com.
The WarmZe was supposed to heat up a baby bottle in 30 minutes or less, but it took more than two hours when we tested it with refrigerated water.
The bottle wrapped in the WarmZe heating pads did stay warm all day as promised, without a microwave, stove or car charger.
We tried a final product created by local Bayside inventor Patricia Herzog-Mesrobian.
She developed the Pot Sox about 20 years ago to wrap decorative fabrics easily around flower pots. It's very easy to remove from the packaging and place on a pot. It looks great, and it's machine washable if it ever gets dirty.
She agreed to license her idea to the company that sells covers for books, tissue boxes and wine bottles at http://www.booksox.com/webstore/home.aspx. If the Pot Sox sells for less than $5, we believe it will be a great deal and a great gift.
If you have an idea you think should be featured in an infomercial, you can pay $25 and submit it to the company that developed the products in our review, Edison Nation, which keeps your concept confidential.
Edison Nation compiles a list of companies seeking new inventions, and you can access that list by setting up a free account at https://www.edisonnation.com/login.
If you have a story idea you'd like us to investigate, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.