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Ron Popeil

Ron Popeil

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Encyclopedia
Ronald M. Popeil
is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 inventor and marketing
Marketing
Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments...

 personality, best known for his direct response marketing
Direct response marketing
Direct-response marketing is a form of marketing designed to solicit a direct response which is specific and quantifiable. The delivery of the response is direct between the viewer and the advertiser, that is, the customer responds to the marketer directly...

 company Ronco
Ronco
Ronco is an American company that manufactures and sells a variety of items and devices, most commonly those used in the kitchen. Ron Popeil founded the company in 1964, and commercials for the company's products soon became pervasive and memorable, in part thanks to Popeil's personal sales pitches...

. He is well known for his appearances in infomercial
Infomercial
Infomercials are direct response television commercials which generally include a phone number or website. There are long-form infomercials, which are typically between 15 and 30 minutes in length, and short-form infomercials, which are typically 30 seconds to 120 seconds in length. Infomercials...

s for the Showtime Rotisserie ("Set it, and forget it!") and for using the phrase, "But wait, there's more!" on television as early as the mid-1950s.

Personal life and career


Popeil learned his trade from his father, Samuel, who was also an inventor and carny
Carny
Carny or carnie is a slang term used in North America and, along with showie, in Australia for a carnival employee, as well as the language they employ...

 salesman of kitchen-related gadget
Gadget
A gadget is a small technological object that has a particular function, but is often thought of as a novelty. Gadgets are invariably considered to be more unusually or cleverly designed than normal technological objects at the time of their invention...

s such as the Chop-O-Matic and the Veg-O-Matic
Veg-O-Matic
Veg-O-Matic was the name of one of the first food-processing appliances to gain widespread use in the United States. It was invented by Samuel J...

. The Chop-O-Matic retailed for US$
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

3.98 and sold over two million units. The invention
Invention
An invention is a novel composition, device, or process. An invention may be derived from a pre-existing model or idea, or it could be independently conceived, in which case it may be a radical breakthrough. In addition, there is cultural invention, which is an innovative set of useful social...

 of the Chop-O-Matic caused a problem that marked the entrance of Ron Popeil into television. It turned out that the Chop-O-Matic was so efficient at chopping vegetables, that it was impractical for salesmen to carry the vegetables they needed to chop. The solution was to tape the demonstration. Once the demonstration was taped, it was a short step to broadcasting
Broadcasting
Broadcasting is the distribution of audio and video content to a dispersed audience via any audio visual medium. Receiving parties may include the general public or a relatively large subset of thereof...

 the demonstration as a commercial
Advertising
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...

.

Popeil received the Ig Nobel Prize
Ig Nobel Prize
The Ig Nobel Prizes are an American parody of the Nobel Prizes and are given each year in early October for ten unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research. The stated aim of the prizes is to "first make people laugh, and then make them think"...

 in Consumer Engineering in 1993. The awards committee described him as the "incessant inventor and perpetual pitchman of late night television" and awarded the prize in recognition of his "redefining the industrial revolution" with his devices.

In August 2005, he sold his company, Ronco, to Fi-Tek VII, a Denver holding company
Holding company
A holding company is a company or firm that owns other companies' outstanding stock. It usually refers to a company which does not produce goods or services itself; rather, its purpose is to own shares of other companies. Holding companies allow the reduction of risk for the owners and can allow...

, for US$55 million. He said he plans to continue serving as the spokesman
Spokesman
A spokesperson or spokesman or spokeswoman is someone engaged or elected to speak on behalf of others.In the present media-sensitive world, many organizations are increasingly likely to employ professionals who have received formal training in journalism, communications, public relations and...

 and inventor, but wants to spend more time with his family. As of 2006, he lives in Beverly Hills, California
Beverly Hills, California
Beverly Hills is an affluent city located in Los Angeles County, California, United States. With a population of 34,109 at the 2010 census, up from 33,784 as of the 2000 census, it is home to numerous Hollywood celebrities. Beverly Hills and the neighboring city of West Hollywood are together...

, with his wife, Robin Popeil and two of his five daughters. Ashley Tisdale
Ashley Tisdale
Ashley Michelle Tisdale is an American actress and singer who rose to prominence portraying the candy-counter girl Maddie Fitzpatrick in Disney Channel's The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and the female antagonist Sharpay Evans in the High School Musical film series...

 is his cousin.

Although Popeil often receives credit for having been the first to use this phrase, "But wait, there's more," its origin is attributed to the State Fair JAM Auctioneers. The JAM Auctioneers also were the first to use the phrase, "How much would you pay?" Ed Valenti
Ed Valenti
Ed Valenti is, with his partner Barry Becherone, the marketing expert credited with the formation of the infomercial, or "long-form" advertising format....

, founder and seller of the Ginsu knife added the word, "Now" to that phrase in the 1970s. Like the JAM Auctioneers of past, each time that question was asked, another item would be added to the sale, thus enhancing the audience's and potential buyers' perceived value of the purchase.

Inventions


Some of his better-known products, and their original sale pitches, include:
  • Chop-O-Matic hand food processor. "Ladies and gentlemen, I'm going to show you the greatest kitchen appliance ever made ... All your onions chopped to perfection without shedding a single tear."
  • Dial-O-Matic, successor to the Veg-O-Matic (and very similar to a mandolin slicer). "Slice a tomato so thin it only has one side."
  • Popeil Pocket Fisherman. "The biggest fishing invention since the hook ... and still only $19.95!" (According to the program Biography
    Biography (TV series)
    Biography is a documentary television series. It was originally a half-hour filmed series produced for CBS by David Wolper from 1961 to 1964 and hosted by Mike Wallace. The A&E Network later re-ran it and has produced new episodes since 1987...

    , the original product was the invention of Popeil's father and only marketed by Ronco, but as of 2006, Popeil had introduced a redesigned version of the product.)
  • Mr. Microphone: a short-range hand-held radio transmitter that broadcast over FM radios. A convertible rolls up to a curb and an enthusiastic young man shouts out "Hey, good looking, I'll be back to pick you up later!" followed by the pitch "Broadcast your voice on any FM radio!!!"
  • Inside-The-Shell Egg Scrambler. "Gets rid of those slimy egg whites in your scrambled eggs." Popeil has said the inspiration for this product was his lifelong revulsion toward incompletely blended scrambled eggs.
  • Six Star 20-Piece Cutlery Set
  • Showtime Rotisserie, a small rotisserie
    Rotisserie
    Rotisserie is a style of roasting where meat is skewered on a spit - a long solid rod used to hold food while it is being cooked over a fire in a fireplace or over a campfire, or roasted in an oven. This method is generally used for cooking large joints of meat or entire animals, such as pigs,...

     oven designed for cooking smaller sized portions of meat such as whole chicken
    Chicken
    The chicken is a domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl. As one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, and with a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird...

     and lamb
    Lamb (food)
    Lamb, mutton, and hogget are the meat of domestic sheep. The meat of a sheep in its first year is lamb; that of a juvenile sheep older than 1 year is hogget; and the meat of an adult sheep is mutton....

    . "Set it, and forget it!"
  • Solid Flavor Injector. This product accompanied the Showtime Rotisserie and was used to inject solid ingredients into meat or other foods. A similar product, called the Liquid Flavor Injector, allowed for the injecting of liquid ingredients into meat, e.g., lime juice into chicken.
  • GLH-9 Hair in a Can Spray (Great Looking Hair Formula #9)
  • Drain Buster
  • Smokeless Ashtray: "Does cigar and cigarette smoke irritate your eyes?" Commercials showed this device drawing smoke from burning cigarettes back into the ashtray itself.
  • Electric Food Dehydrator: "Instead of giving kids candy, give them apple snacks or banana chips. And it's great if you're a hunter, fisherman, backpacker, or camper. Makes beef jerky for around $3 a pound, and you know what went in it, because you made it yourself!"
  • Ronco Popeil Automatic Pasta Maker
  • The Cap Snaffler: "Snaffles caps off any size jug, bottle, or jar ... and it really, really works."
  • The Showtime Six Star Plus 25 Knife Set and the Solid Flavor Injector: "Three easy payments of $13.33!"

Popular culture


Ron Popeil's success in infomercials, memorable marketing personality, and ubiquity on American television have allowed him and his products to appear in a variety of popular media environments including cameo appearances on television shows such as the X-Files, Futurama
Futurama
Futurama is an American animated science fiction sitcom created by Matt Groening and developed by Groening and David X. Cohen for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series follows the adventures of a late 20th-century New York City pizza delivery boy, Philip J...

King of the Hill
King of the Hill
King of the Hill is an American animated dramedy series created by Mike Judge and Greg Daniels, that ran from January 12, 1997, to May 6, 2010, on Fox network. It centers on the Hills, a working-class Methodist family in the fictional small town of Arlen, Texas...

, The Simpsons
The Simpsons
The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical parody of a middle class American lifestyle epitomized by its family of the same name, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie...

, Sex and the City
Sex and the City
Sex and the City is an American television comedy-drama series created by Darren Star and produced by HBO. Broadcast from 1998 until 2004, the original run of the show had a total of ninety-four episodes...

and The Daily Show
The Daily Show
The Daily Show , is an American late night satirical television program airing each Monday through Thursday on Comedy Central. The half-hour long show premiered on July 21, 1996, and was hosted by Craig Kilborn until December 1998...

. Parodies of Popeil's infomercials were done on the comedy show Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live is a live American late-night television sketch comedy and variety show developed by Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title of NBC's Saturday Night.The show's sketches often parody contemporary American culture...

by Dan Aykroyd
Dan Aykroyd
Daniel Edward "Dan" Aykroyd, CM is a Canadian comedian, actor, screenwriter, musician, winemaker and ufologist. He was an original cast member of Saturday Night Live, an originator of The Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters and has had a long career as a film actor and screenwriter.-Early...

 and Eddie Murphy
Eddie Murphy
Edward Regan "Eddie" Murphy is an American stand-up comedian, actor, writer, singer, director, and musician....

 and the "Veg-O-Matic" may have provided comedian Gallagher
Leo Gallagher
Gallagher is an American comedian, clown, and prop comic, most popularly known for smashing watermelons as part of his act.-Early life:...

 inspiration for the "Sledge-O-Matic" routine since the 1980s. Additionally, the professional wrestling
Professional wrestling
Professional wrestling is a mode of spectacle, combining athletics and theatrical performance.Roland Barthes, "The World of Wrestling", Mythologies, 1957 It takes the form of events, held by touring companies, which mimic a title match combat sport...

 tag team
Tag team
Tag team professional wrestling is a variation in which matches are contested between teams of multiple wrestlers. A tag team may comprise two wrestlers who normally wrestle in singles competition, but more commonly are made of established teams who wrestle regularly as a unit and have a team name...

 The Midnight Express dubbed their Finishing Move the Veg-O-Matic.
In Futurama
Futurama
Futurama is an American animated science fiction sitcom created by Matt Groening and developed by Groening and David X. Cohen for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series follows the adventures of a late 20th-century New York City pizza delivery boy, Philip J...

 he is said to have invented the technology to keep heads alive in jars.

Ron was voted by Self Magazine readers as one of the 25 people who have changed the way we eat, drink and think about food.

Popeil has been referenced in the music of Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper is an American rock singer, songwriter and musician whose career spans more than four decades...

, The Beastie Boys, "Weird Al" Yankovic
"Weird Al" Yankovic
Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic is an American singer-songwriter, music producer, accordionist, actor, comedian, writer, satirist, and parodist. Yankovic is known for his humorous songs that make light of popular culture and that often parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts...

 who wrote a parody song entitled "Mr. Popeil" which was a tribute to Ron Popeil's father, Samuel Popeil. Ron Popeil later used this song in some of his infomercials.

In Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell, CM is a Canadian journalist, bestselling author, and speaker. He is currently based in New York City and has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996...

's book What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures
What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures
What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures is the fourth book released by author Malcolm Gladwell, on October 20, 2009. The book is a compilation of the journalist's articles published in The New Yorker.-Background:...

, Ron Popeil is interviewed and many of his products, most notably the Veg-O-Matic and Showtime Rotisserie, are discussed. The article was first published in The New Yorker in 2000.

External links