a realistic dose of cynicism


why the ShamWOW is… well, a sham.

It’s like a shammy, it’s like a towel, it’s like a sponge. You’ll be saying “WOW” every time!

On paper (like paper towels! get it?!), the ShamWOW looks like an amazing product. 8 of them for $19.95 + $8 S/H, so $28. Let’s see what it has to offer:

  • works wet or dry.
  • holds 20 times its weight in liquid.
  • machine washable.
  • Made in Germany. And you know the Germans always make good stuff. (Except for that time… in the late 1930s… with the persecution of all those Jews… oh wait, nevermind.)
  • Olympic divers use it as a towel!
  • Dries your sweaters.
  • Gets out wine, coffee, cola from carpet!
  • You’ll spend $20 on paper towels a month anyway, so why not.
  • ShamWOW lasts 10 years. Sponges last a week.

At first glance, it looks like I’ll never need another kitchen towel again, if I just get 8 ShamWOWs. That’s a lot of absorbency; suck, if you will. That’s like, enough suck to compete with the Slap Chop. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s really see if the ShamWOW is worth your time, money, and staring at this Yankee’s face for a few more minutes. (His name is Vince Offer. Offer!! Get it?! He’s a salesman… okay. I’ll stop.)

1. The first thing that entices me is the absorbent quality of the ShamWOW. “Holds 20 times its weight in liquid. Works wet or dry. Even gets out wine, coffee, cola stains from carpet.” Know what else holds 20 times its weight in liquid? That’s right. Nanotubes. But even if you don’t have those handy, that demonstration of removing cola from the carpet? A sham.

When you see Vince pour the cola onto the square of carpet, some of the cola seeps over the edge:


Later, when he goes to clean it up with the ShamWOW, the edge-seeping cola is mysteriously absent:


Don’t fall for the quick editing and smooth talking of this guy. Vince, I’m onto you.

2. “I spend $20 on paper towels a month anyway. Compared to getting yourself an order of ShamWOWs, that’s like cash in the trash. Money in the… bunny. Green in the… wastebasket. You know what I mean.

Let’s see. Paper towels are… what, $10 for 24 rolls? At least that’s how much I got them for at Price Chopper (generic). $20 in paper towels a month would be 48 rolls of paper towels. Per month. You’d have to use a roll and a half each day of the month. I don’t even think that’s remotely possible. And even if you had the soul-crushing conviction that you needed to use up a whole roll of paper towels a day, it still wouldn’t be possible. There aren’t enough hours in the day.

I’d use… maybe 3 rolls of paper towels in a month. So $10 in paper towels would last me 2/3rds of a YEAR. Sorry ShamWOW. Not only does it appear that you need to use deceptive marketing to pitch your product (that might not actually work!), you’re not cost-effective.

3. “You won’t need paper towels after the ShamWOW.” Because of course, the infinitely reusable ShamWOW automatically precludes all conceivable uses of paper towels. Ever.

Let’s say you used a ShamWOW to wash and wax your car. I’d imagine, for your family’s sake, that you wouldn’t want to use that very same ShamWOW to say, clean up messes in the kitchen. After all, wax isn’t that tasty. Same goes for oil changes, too. Except if you’re a robot. Then by all means, go ahead.

You also wouldn’t want to mix a shower mat or any bathroom-use ShamWOW with the kitchen. Sure you can throw them into the washing machine… but would you really go to all the effort to distinguish between a bathroom ShamWOW with a kitchen ShamWOW?! And besides, they’re rubbing around each other in there to begin with.

Narsty. Paper towels still have their uses.

I have a feeling the ShamWOW wouldn’t be very good at picking up… spilled flour, grape jelly, molasses, vegetable oil, etc. It just doesn’t seem to be the end-all solution.

What if you spilled something in the kitchen, let’s say, some olive oil. Let’s use the ShamWOW to clean it up. Wow, look at it go… okay, now that it’s all clean, I have an olive-oil soaked ShamWOW. It’d be awful convenient if I could use it for other messes too, but I wouldn’t want to spread the oil everywhere. Well, I could just throw it in the washing machine… hey, this isn’t very convenient at all.

4. “You’ll be saving money with the ShamWOW!” I have bad news for you, Vince. There are these things lying around my kitchen that do the exact same thing as the ShamWOW. They don’t have the nice machined edges that the ShamWOW does, but they clean up messes, absorb liquids, and I wouldn’t lose any sleep over defenestrating any of them. (The ShamWOW would give me nightmares if I threw it out my 2nd story window.)

Yes. The infamous ordinary kitchen rag! And I get them for free. Take that.

That being said, Vince is kinda awesome, in an annoying, condescending, flippant kind of way. I’ll take two.


Filed under: debunking infomythcials, , ,

10 Responses

  1. Melody says:

    I was seriously contemplating buying those during one of my stressed-out, neurotic cleaning binges.

    Thank you for setting me back onto the right path.

  2. Dalau says:

    I want to buy a shamWoW now.

  3. […] You remember our good friend Vince, right? Okay, maybe not. But I’m sure you remember the ShamWOW… holds 20 times its weight in liquid… yadda […]

  4. scienilia says:

    Hello. Your site displays incorrectly in Opera, but content excellent! Thank you for your wise words =)

  5. eatingalone says:

    well, you do find some holes in my man vince’s argument, but you don’t get at the things that matters: does shamwow work?!

  6. Exceptional piece of writing!!

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