Thursday, March 24, 2005

The ORIGINAL Illustrated Catalog Of ACME Products

Mark Anderson directs us to the Original Illustrated Catalog of ACME Products (where we learn that the first ACME purchase was flypaper, in "Buddy's Bug Hunt," 1935.)

And though these items aren't available for sale -- unlike the ACME products -- you can still enjoy the level-headed mania that inspired them at the Gallery of Obscure Patents. My favorite is the motorized ice cream cone:

It reminds me of another device -- one that made the leap from obscurity in a patent office to obscurity in a discount store: a battery-powered rod that spins while toasting marshmallows.

I picked this up as a stocking stuffer for Mary last year. We love marshmallows, and have mastered the backwoods art of toasting them in the kitchen over the gas stove. But like the Coyote, I discovered that the picture on the box was the blissful ideal -- of a happy world where marshmallows spun on their own. In practice, the rod is a jumble of bad physics and noise. It wobbles while rotating, burning one side while barely tanning the other. And if I close my eyes (not a good idea while cooking), it produces the metallic whine of fishing gear cranking in a marlin.

I'm waiting for the spinning ear plugs.