You’ve just scrambled an egg for breakfast, and now you have to wash out that messy bowl and rinse off the fork. What drudgery, you say. Wouldn’t it be nice if chickens laid scrambled eggs?
That isn’t a prospect yet, but Ronald Popeil has the next best solution. “I know the trials and tribulations that go on in the kitchen,” he says, “and it used to disturb me that any time someone wanted to scramble an egg, he had to make such a mess.” So Popeil invented a battery-powered machine that scrambles eggs while they are still in the shell. Now Popeil is chairman and will gladly sell you the gadget ... or the machine. “It isn’t just another gadget,” Popeil insists.
Of course not. But it is one of the winners of the Wall Street Journal’s Things-We-Could-Probably-Live-Without Contest. In its quest for serious new devices that are hard to take seriously, the Journal also found shoes with built-in retractable roller skates, a cordless microphone that broadcasts your voice over any nearby FM radio, and an electric mousetrap. They all really exist, and the people who make and sell them point to a multitude of benefits.
The Egg Scrambler, for instance, can come in handy at breakfast. It costs $7.77, and in essence, it is a needle in a cup, mounted on an electric motor. You impale the egg – gently, of course – on the needle and press down until the motor starts. Then you count to five slowly, lift the egg off and break it into the pan. “Not only is there no mess,” Popeil told the journal, “but you get the perfectly blended egg.”
Perfectly blended eggs, of course, banish forever that bane of breakfast–runny egg whites. Runny egg whites, Popeil explains, make French toast rubbery and scrambled eggs gooey. “I have solved the cleanup problem and the French toast problem and the scrambled egg problem,” boasts the inventor.
Now after breakfast, you are on your way to work, and suddenly mere walking isn’t enough. But that’s no problem if you are wearing Pop Wheels. All you have to do is lift each foot, press a button, and you’re on roller skates.
“Pop Wheels make so much sense,” says Matthew Durda, president of American Pop Wheels, Inc. “With Pop Wheels you don’t have to be O.J, Simpson to get around the airport fast.”
Pop Wheels, which sell for about $40, originated in Switzerland and found their way to Canada. Last year, Durda got the rights to market them in the U.S. Before that, he sold used cars.
“It’s almost like something out of a James Bond movie,” Durda told the Journal. “The hinges come up and down like airplane wheels. You walk down the street, reach down and pop your wheels, and you’re gone. The wheels are small, so it looks like you are floating on air.”
When you get to work, you retract your landing gear only to find that at your morning sales meeting the microphones have conked out.
But you’re in luck. You’re carrying Mr. Microphone, another brainchild of Popeil. Mr. Microphone is a $12.88 wireless device that lets you “broadcast” over any nearby FM radio set.
All you do is turn on Mr. Microphone, hone in on the right frequency (somewhere between 88 and 102 on the dial), and you’re in business. “If you use two radios, you broadcast in stereo,” Popeil says. “This is perfect if you have to talk to a lot of people at a meeting. It isn’t a toy.”
Perhaps not, but Popeil admits that Mr. Microphone isn’t strictly for business either. “Lots of people would like to hear what their singing sounds like over the radio, and this lets them find out,” he says. “People have a little ham in them, and you’d be surprised what they do when they get their hands on Mr. Microphone.”
The electric mouse trap hold no surprises – except for mice. The trap is a tube-like device with a little hole in the end. If a mouse crawls in, attracted by the scented pellets, he sticks his head between two electrodes–and, zap!
For $14.99, the electric mousetrap doesn’t do anything that a 39-cent wooden mousetrap won’t do. But it has some advantages for the mouse and for you, says Joel DeWitt, vice president of Hall Industries, Inc., which makes the device. “Our traps provide a humane, instantaneous death,” he explains. “And when it’s over, you can put your hand over your eyes and shake the mouse into the garbage can. You don’t have to see a thing.”
DeWitt adds, “Back in 1963, we were the first to introduce electric bug killers to consumers. It kind of follows that we be the first with electric mousetraps.”