Slight chance of sane? Break out Smart Brella

Over the past several years, I have saved my Hammacher Schlemmer catalogs. These frequent mailings are from a company that offers unique gift items, many of which you cannot purchase anywhere else.

I have poked fun at their products in my columns, and now to celebrate their 2017 Christmas edition, here are a few of my favorites. Most of these items are still available. And I threw in a few new ones. Of course, the question is: Are they still for sale because they were so popular, or does the company just want to finally unload this stuff?

World’s Largest Gummy Bear: still in the catalog from four years ago when I first reported on it, this gummy bear is 1,000 times larger than your average fruit bear. (Say that in Yogi Bear’s voice and it’s a lot funnier.) HS advises that it tastes best when kept in the fridge and then sliced into cutlets, which is a term that should really be left for veal. The giant gummy bear is cherry-flavored and serves 12 kids. Or 106 adults.

Fish-Catching RC Boat: The perfect gift for the absolute laziest person in your life. It’s a pint-sized boat that fishes for you. Yes, it trolls the lake, sets the hook when the fish strikes and then brings the fish back to shore. It’s $69.95, but for an extra six bucks you can get a sign to put on your front door: home fishing.

The Smart Brella: this is an umbrella that has a smart phone attached to the handle. So while walking in the rain, you can hit the button and make a call. People thought you were crazy talking to yourself with that bluetooth gizmo in your ear. Now the whole neighborhood thinks you are having a conversation with an inanimate object. Here’s my prediction for what people will say about you when they see you using this contraption: “mostly funny, with only a slight chance of sane.”

The Reading Time Clock: OK, I’m going to vote this the dumbest gadget I have ever seen. Instead of numbers on a round clock, it has real words that come up on a screen. So it might say: it’s eight thirty. However, the clock doesn’t actually say it — you have to read it. A minute later we see: it’s eight thirty-one. Who would want this as a gift? Maybe it’s for people who are literate (they know all the letters) but just never learned numbers?

The Children’s Weber Grill: a great gift choice for kids who already have iPhones and computers and high-tech video games. What fun, to have a fake plastic grill so you can pretend you are cooking a plastic hot dog on pretend coals. Learn to be just like Dad, who in 17 years behind the barbecue still can’t figure out medium-rare.

The Heated Bathrobe: this is a bathrobe with rechargeable lithium batteries that you can plug in and feel a soothing warmth when you get out of the shower. In this same catalog you can also buy battery-operated gloves, battery-operated socks and battery-operated earmuffs. You can also buy a flashlight that doesn’t require batteries. Well, that’s a stupid idea.

The Electric Kazoo: just when you thought that the world’s most annoying musical instrument couldn’t get any worse, the folks at HS electrified it. Apparently they partnered with the last kazoo manufacturer left in the United States, but this idea should pretty much finish them off, too.

More favorites next week.

Television personality Dick Wolfsie writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to