THE DUMBEST PRODUCTS
IN CAPTIVITY

Many times I see products which make me ask, "What were they thinking?" Here is a list of the weirdest and strangest products:

  1. Combination Flashlight and Ballpoint Pen

    They put the flashlight on the other end of the pen, pointing away from the pen point. So you can't see what you are writing in the dark.

    Another version is a keychain with a flashlight on the other end - pointed away from the keyhole.

  2. Art Kits That Still Use the Obsolete Primary Colors

    new primaries The correct primary colors of pigment have been known since 1934. They are magenta, yellow, and cyan (see image at right). These primary colors are based on the science of color vision.

    So why do art companies still provide sets designed around the obsolete primaries? Excepting use with certain kinds of oil paints, the old primaries (red, yellow, and blue - see lower image) are useless. The new primaries work with almost all media.

    Yet they still make these nice sets of colored pencils, crayons, chalks, and/or watercolors with the old primary colors in mind, and make the following mistakes in constructing them;

    Why do these companies put out such stupid art sets? See my article:

    Teach the Correct Color Theory in School

  3. Collapsible Coffeepot (for easier storage)

    This was a set of concentric conical rings that can be pulled tight to form a coffeepot. It was based on a collapsible drinking cup that was also intended for carrying in a knapsack for camping.

    The problem is that it could collapse while you are using it. When heat was applied, the segments expanded at different rates and it collapsed, spilling the hot water into the campfire (and maybe on the user). This rarely happened with the drinking cup.

    A collapsible dishpan that works the same way is being sold. It will probably collapse by itself in the same way.

    A set of collapsible measuring cups that works the same way is being sold. I wonder how accurately they measure each time they are expanded. And will this cup collapse if it is put down?

  4. Suction-Cup Safety Grab Bar

    This was sold to be a safety grab bar used for entering and leaving a bathtub. It has lock levers that increase the suction. The photo shows it attached to a tiled wall.

    The page author bought one of these. It pulled the tiles off the bathroom wall when a handicapped person tried to use it.

  5. Monogrammed Products (various kinds of items)

    Various kinds of items are sold with monogram letters on them, including wall hangings, trivets, draperies, plates, silverware, glasses, bedspreads, seat covers, etc. The problem is that they offer only 12 to 16 letters of the alphabet. If your surname is Quillen, Ulrich, or Zimmermann, you are out of luck.

  6. NFL Team Logo Products (and teams from other sport leagues)

    These are items similar to the monogrammed items above. Like the monograms, the vendor provides only 8, 12, or 16 teams, instead of all of the teams in the NFL. The logos of other sports, other leagues, and college teams are also sold in the same way. But if your team is not on the list of available logos, you can't have one with your team on it.

  7. tuba mirum Tuba Mirum???

    The poster in a record store said "Tuba Mirum". With a picture of a tuba???

    The phrase "Tuba Mirum" is in Latin. It means "Wonderful trumpet". The Latin word "tuba" means "trumpet". The phrase has nothing to do with the musical instrument we call a tuba. Tuba Mirum is a part of the Requiem Mass used in the Catholic Church.

    (Update - the page author found out that this poster was made to sell a CD made by a tuba player. It does not contain any part of the Requiem Mass.)

  8. Kitchen Cooker Makes a Single Food

    Many kitchen devices are sold that are intended to make only one kind of food. These include pizza cooker, lasagna cooker, egg poacher, devilled egg filler, butter melter, banana peeler, peach shaver, corn butterer, wine cork remover, salad spinner, etc.

    Most people can do these things with the kitchen equipment they already have. They don't need special devices to make each kind of food. And often there is often no room to store all of these special devices in a small kitchen.

  9. Draft Stopper Fits Under Door

    This is a roll of plastic that fits under the door, with half of the roll on each side. It prevents drafts from going under the door. It works fine if the door is indoors, or if another door or a portico (porch overhang) keeps rain off the device. But if the door is exposed to rain, it brings rain water into the house.

  10. Winter Boots that Look Sharp, but are Not Waterproof

    Most of those nice looking winter boots they sell are not waterproof. When the snow melts, your feet get very wet. And in some cases, getting the boots wet makes them fall apart.

    On the other hand, boots that are waterproof don't keep your feet warm.

  11. All Kinds Of Containers with Flexible Plastic Hinges

    These include pencil boxes, food containers, CD carriers, cosmetic cases, and other kinds of containers. They are all made of a cheap flexible plastic.

    The problem is that the hinges wear out and break off. Then the container becomes useless.

  12. boob lights Boob Ceiling Lamps

    These 11-inch to 13-inch ceiling lamps are generally shaped like women's breasts, and they are sold in pairs in a package that makes them look like a huge bra. I wonder how many people bought them because they subconsciously saw boobs.

    A marketing booby trap?

  13. Microwave Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry

    The problem with this is in the instructions. It tells the person cooking it how to thaw and cut up the chicken. Then it tells the cook to "stir the vegetables into the meat." At that time, the vegetables are still frozen into a solid block.

  14. Chicken Marsala

    The problem is evident when you look at the picture on the box. The caption underneath says:
    SERVING SUGGESTION
           KEEP FROZEN.

  15. Computer Keyboards with rub-off-ish letters

    Nice keyboards, except that the decals they made the letters out of rub off the keyboard keys, leaving you puzzled about which key is which. Mold the letters into the keytops.

  16. Olestra (diet cooking oil used in diet products)

    For many people, it comes with a built-in enema.

  17. "Universal" tool

    This kind of "Swiss-Army tool" has 10 or more tools built into one device. The problem is that combining the tools makes each tool harder to use. Also, you can't use two of the tools in the set at the opposite ends of the same bolt.

  18. Hands-Free Cell Phone Devices

    They don't make cell phones any safer to use while driving, because the cell phone removes the driver's brain from the road.

  19. Dust Mop Slippers

    It looks like a good idea until you try it:

    1. They are quite slippery on smooth floors. Don't lose your balance.
    2. All the dirt comes off at once if you have to go into a carpeted room.
    3. You get a clean zone down the center of the room with dirt left at the edges.
    4. Don't wear them on stairs.
    5. The washing machine won't clean them like the instructions say it will.
  20. Shelf Set Folds Up For Storage

    Once you set it up and fill it up with items (videos in the page author's case) it will never again be folded up unless you put it in the moving van to move to another house.

  21. Simply Fit Exercise Board

    Keep using it in the same place and see the hole worn in the rug.

  22. Seven-Day Pill Organizer

    Violates many state laws that prohibit keeping prescription drugs in anything other than the original bottle with the prescription label on it.

  23. Ambulatory Taco

    This is supposed to be a lunch you can carry with you, make in a microwave oven, and eat while you walk. However, it was not nearly as easy to prepare as it looks in the pictoral instructions:

    1. The pouch full of tortilla chips would not stand up in the microwave.
    2. It took two hands to get the meat and the sauces out of the packets. This left no hand to hold up the chip pouch.
    3. The taco sauce bag would not tear open. Scissors were required.
    4. The taco sauce was 5-alarm sauce. The consumer should have been warned.
    5. Some of the meat and sauces would not come out of the pouches, wasting the materials.
    6. The pouch fell over in the microwave, making a mess.
    7. Often this is another built-in enema.
  24. Solar-Powered Yard Light

    These work well when they are new, but they rarely last longer than two years. The following are the most common reasons these lights fail so early.

    1. The plastic the lamp is made of photodegrades or biodegrades and falls apart.
    2. The electronics are not sealed from the weather and are damaged by moisture.
    3. The electronics malfunction because moisture causes unwanted conductive paths.
    4. Insects get into the case and build nests that damage the electronics.
    5. The cheap battery included leaks and damages the circuitry.
    6. The solar panel does not collect enough energy for a cloudy day.
    7. It's easy for a thief to steal it.
  25. Any Product Attached to a Window or Wall by a Suction Cup

    The suction cup always lets go at the most inopportune time. An indoor-outdoor thermometer held by suction cups fell and broke, spilling the colored liquids on the rug. Also, a pretty sun catcher on another window fell and shattered.

  26. A Coffee Cup with a Compartment for a Cookie or a Teabag

    When you take a drink, the cookie or the teabag falls out onto your lap.

  27. Crystal-like Light Cover

    This clips onto a bare lightbulb to hide the bulb and socket. But it won't work with a compact fluorescent squiggle bulb.

  28. Toilet Bowl Light

    This causes the toilet bowl to light up when it is approached at night. The first problem is that you need other light to use the toilet anyway. The second problem is when unsuspecting Uncle Ralph with the heart condition is surprised by the sudden light, has a heart attack and dies.

  29. Star Shower Laser Christmas Light

    This works well - too well. Airplane pilots have reported blinding laser strikes from these devices.

    There are non-laser versions that are safe.

  30. Solar Powered Motion-Detector Outdoor Light

    What do you do if the places you need these most are places where the sun never shines?

  31. Storage Solution Shelving Devices for Corners

    In some houses, there are no available corners. In the page author's house, there are few available corners. Every corner has a doorway, a closet, a window, a fixture (e.g. sink), a kitchen counter, an appliance hookup (e.g. washing machine) or something else that keeps it from containing a storage device. Each bedroom has one corner for the bed. There are only three corners left that are not inside closets, and they are already occupied.

  32. Storage Solution Shelving Devices that Hang on Doors

    Some houses have no swinging doors. They have arches, sliding doors, pocket doors, accordion doors, open entrances to halls, stairways, and other kinds of doorways. Some swinging doors open against adjacent walls, leaving no room for the storage devices. The page author's house has only 4 swinging interior doors, and all of them open against adjacent walls.

  33. Every Appliance has a Remote Control

    There are several problems with this:

    1. Devices often use the same frequencies, causing remotes to activate the wrong device.
    2. Some functions are not available without the remote. Loss or failure of the remote means loss of those functions.
    3. When you buy the device used, you usually don't get the remote. So you don't have those functions.
    4. A media center can have as many as 10 remotes (The page author's has 9: TV set, Cable, VCR, DVD, CD changer, CD recorder, Surround sound, Radio, and Air filter. Only 2 of them are actively used. The others are used only for the functions that are not included on the control panel.
    5. When the power fails, every device with a remote forgets all of your settings and has to be reprogrammed for the proper settings again. These settings include speaker levels, display mode, surround mode, cable channels, radio stations, equalization, and others. Devices without remote controls have physical knobs that retain their settings.
    6. The device cannot be used with a timer.
    7. Constantly looking for the remote.
    8. Remote controls are provided on devices that do not need remote controls (e.g. light bulbs, thermostats, refrigerators, microwave ovens, alarm clocks, and other devices). Some of them also expect you to have a cell phone to use it.
  34. Every Appliance has Menus

    There are several problems with this:

    1. A Menu can be a hazard in a car or other device where you can't take your eyes off what you are doing.
    2. Menus take longer to use than simple controls.
    3. Menus become troublesome when it is hard to figure out which submenu contains the function you want.
    4. Menus often need remote controls, with the disadvantages listed above.
    5. When the power fails, every device with a menu forgets all of your settings and has to be reprogrammed for the proper settings again. Devices without menus have physical knobs that retain their settings.
    6. The device cannot be used with a timer.
    7. Menus are provided on devices that do not need menus (e.g. light bulbs, thermostats, refrigerators, microwave ovens, alarm clocks, and other devices).
    8. Many devices expect you to have a cell phone and control menus through that phone.
  35. Products and Contests That Require Cell Phones to Access Them

    This keeps people who do not have or want cell phones or who have the wrong cell phones from accessing the device or contest.

  36. Everything Connects to the Internet, Often Through WiFi

    Internet connections are not needed for most devices. Internet connections can cause the following troubles:

    1. Devices often fight over WiFi connections.
    2. In apartment buildings, neighboring computers can take over your devices.
    3. Criminals can see your files and security cameras.
    4. Hackers have taken over Internet connected appliances and used them to hack into other computers.
    5. Criminals can unlock your internet-accessible house or your car.
    6. Hackers have taken over internet-connected cars and caused them to crash.
    7. All of the WiFi and Cell Phone connections emit radio waves that can possibly cause cancer.
    8. Many devices expect you to have a cell phone and control them through that phone.
  37. Tree Dazzler Christmas Light

    This has most of the disadvantages of a product with menus and remote controls.

    1. It forgets your settings when it is off.
    2. The device cannot be used with a timer. It will not turn on with the timer. The control box must be used to start it.
    3. There is no way to shut off the Tree Dazzler with the control box. It must be unplugged or turned off with an external switch.
    4. The colors available in the STILL mode are based on the obsolete primary-secondary color set (red orange yellow green blue violet white pink) instead of the prettier new primary-secondary color set (red orange yellow green cyan blue magenta white).
  38. Products That Periodically Need Replacement Accessories to Keep Working

    Such products include air filters, sink drain cleaners, special lamps (e.g. LED), computer printers, tape recorders, house cleaning devices, pet waste collection devices, pet toys, scented items, and other products that use accessories that are used up.

    When the company discontinues the product and its accessories, the product you bought will soon become useless.

  39. Illegal or Dangerous Accessories Sold for Bicycles

    Many companies are selling "safety" devices for bicycles which are illegal to use as directed on bicycles in most states:

    1. Front white reflectors for use in lieu of a headlight (useless if the car is not heading straight toward the bicycle - very dangerous when a car has just overtaken and passed a bicycle because the driver can't see the bike to return to his lane - must have a real headlight at night)
    2. Flashing red lights to warn drivers of the presence of the bicycle (allowed in addition to a steady red light or reflector, but not alone and not on the front)
    3. Flashing yellow lights to warn drivers of the presence of the bicycle (allowed in addition to a the lights required by law, but not alone)
    4. Flashing white lights to warn drivers of the presence of the bicycle (allowed in addition to a the steady white headlight, but not alone and not on the back)
    5. Extremely bright flashing red lights or flashing lights with unusual flash patterns (fool drivers into thinking the bicycle is an emergency vehicle)
    6. Lights flashing faster than twice a second (flashing at the brain's alpha frequency can disrupt normal thinking or cause an epileptic seizure)
    7. Sirens
  40. Geriatric-Patient-Proof Pill Bottle Caps

    These "childproof" bottle caps require such excessive strength or dexterity that geriatric patients cannot open them. They have to find strong dexterous children to open them.

  41. Third Brake Light Blinks Twice Before Coming On

    These confuse drivers who use the lights to determine the amount of braking. They might make sense when free-flowing traffic has to stop suddenly. But in bumper-to-bumper traffic, they quickly become annoying.

  42. Products with the salt removed.

    The product does not taste the same with salt sprinkled on it as it tastes with the salt mixed into the recipe. Removing the salt from all products to satisfy the few with low-salt diets is just plain wrong.