Checking out corporate come-ons

Time for another trip into the Far, Far, Far-out World of Free Enterprise.

Time for another trip into the Far, Far, Far-out World of Free Enterprise.

Today, Spaceship Hightower makes a journey to the dark side of “the moon of product advertising,” taking a peek at what’s really behind some of the come-ons in ads and on labels. Our guide is Consumer Reports magazine, which is an expert at finding goofs, glitches, and gotchas. You can always locate it at

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Let’s begin with Campbell’s, the food giant that pushes a line of “Select Harvest” veggie soups, claiming to have “Real Ingredients, For Real Taste.” Recently, though, the package had a new banner, proclaiming: “Now Even Better!” Really? No. The new version simply has more sugar, more salt, and less protein.

But here’s something from TV Brands that seems awfully useful. Called insta-slit, it’s a gadget for opening those products that come encased in practically-impenetrable, and thoroughly-annoying hard plastic. Great! Except the gadget is encased in practically-impenetrable, thoroughly-annoying hard plastic. Go figure.

Now, here’s one that’s just strange. It’s the 13-inch folding step stool by the Simplify company. Behind the simple label, however, is a list of 13 warnings (presumably one for each inch of this little stool). Most worrisome, by far, is this caution to purchasers: “Do not leave step stool unattended.”

But at least it works, which can’t be said for this catalogue offering of a beautifully crafted rosewood and brass walking stick. “The perfect gift,” the ad exults. Except that a fine print tagline warns, “This item is not capable of human support.”

However, even that’s a better gift than this suggestion for a Mother’s Day surprise: “Get mom a termite treatment this Mother’s Day.” Yeah, and just wait for the treatment she gives you.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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