Monday, December 05, 2005

Christmas Poaching

“How about an egg-poaching toaster?” she asks. “It’s against the King’s law to poach the royal eggs,” says I, wondering what she was talking about. Barbara winces as she often does at my jokes and continues, “No, I’m talking about this Egg Poaching Toaster in the new Hammacher Schlemmer catalogue – right here.”

Ah, the catalogue: “Offering the Best, the Only and the Unexpected for 157 years.” One of the official starts of the Christmas shopping season. It like Neiman Marcus for the upper-middle-class, filled with shiny gadgets to catch the eye and empty the pocketbook. More than the early seasonal displays, more than the often-clever TV commercials, the constant arrival of the catalogues in the mailbox advertising all mod cons for gadget garages throughout the Western world still signals the March of Shopping Progress – despite the Internet.

I have decided against the poacher, despite the arresting fact that “this countertop device makes a complete breakfast sandwich in just four minutes…” Although my eye was caught by The Children’s ATM Bank shown directly underneath, this is the kind of marketing I can now resist.

This is hardly the first or only time that someone will remark on the drive to make the Christmas shopping season profitable for retailers everywhere. Gadgeteering is part of the American psyche, maybe humanity’s psyche, but I have run out of room for these things, I guess. Consumables (like holiday candy trays) are probably to blame in my case: carrying around the gifties in caloric form rather than having them clutter up the household landscape.

Yet it is a constant battle, isn’t it. I noted in the September 6 number of Family Circle (page 81), that one cannot “speed your weight loss results” without stocking up on the shiny plastic Cheese Grater, the chromed Vegetable Steamer, and the handy Olive Oil Sprayer. Say, did you know that “you’ll use about half as much cheese if you shred it first?”

Let ‘em roll on, says I. ‘Tis the season to be merry, and if the definition of “merry” includes getting a breakfast sandwich in four minutes, go for it. The retailers will thank you, the economy will thank you. And I, who make a better living in a boom economy, will thank you. (PS: The Egg Poacher’s stock number is BX-72727 – and thanks to Hammacher Schlemmer for the photo.)

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