Wednesday, June 20, 2007


When my Dad passed away, my brother and I had 50 years of accumulated paraphenalia to sort through. Mixed up in that were six--count 'em--six Veg-O-Matics.

This picture is from the Smithsonian Institution Press webpage.

Why? The original, the one I remember using in the sixties, was still stored in its black, white, and orange cardboard box. Maybe Dad bought the others as gifts he forgot to bestow. Maybe they were on sale--he could never pass up a good deal. I think my brother sold them all on Ebay, except for the original. He kept that, and all the special blades.

I bring this up because Ron Popeil sold Ronco two years ago. Besides Veg-O-Matics and the Pocket Fisherman (which were actually invented by Ron Popeil's Dad), Ronco sold Ginsu knives, Armorcote pans, Set It and Forget It ovens, and the Inside-the-Shell egg scrambler. Ah, the memories! After selling $2 billion worth of gadgets, Popeil called it a day. His first payment from the new buyer was $40 million.

However, the new owners filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and Popeil is still owed nearly $12 million. It's downright embarassing, since he also sold rights to his own image and voice. The company that bought Ronco shows Popeil's picture, and according to the newspaper, uses his voice on their answering machines.

But they're talking to a new buyer. Wonder how he feels when he calls the company and hears Ron Popeil's voice?

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