Sometime in 1962, a Canadian salesman stepped into a television studio to begin a live broadcast that would change history. For a full five minutes, Philip Kives—who’d earned his chops peddling kitchenwares on the Atlantic City Boardwalk—plugged a newly released, woefully ineffective Teflon pan in what would become the world’s first infomercial, defining the genre for decades to come.
That moment also set the standard for a certain kind of product, today fitted into the category of “As Seen on TV,” spoofed by Dan Aykroyd 40 years ago in SNL’s Bass-o-Matic ‘76 sketch and living on via those iconic But wait, there’s more! items—the Veg-o-matic, the Magic Bullet and the ShamWow among them.
Sure, the category has always existed, but it’s Kives who first lifted these items out of the classifieds and delivered them to a mainstream audience. So perhaps it’s him that we should blame (thank?) for the inevitable creation of our latest eBay purchase: a set of five multicolored, neck-bound wine harnesses, marketed under the name WineYoke™.
While they’re still a step away from gag paraphernalia (as compared to say, the Wine Rack or the Bottle Glass) they do fit perfectly into that easy-to-digest, undemanding category trailblazed by Kives: mercantile gold that’s relatively cheap and quick to understand.
“It’s really the solution in search of a problem,” said PUNCH Senior Contributing Editor Jon Bonné of the Yoke, adding that wearing one to a real event might be “the catalyst for the worst pickup lines in history.”
Wondering how it might fit into a larger commentary on wine culture, on drinking tropes, on commercialism, on anything, really, I tried one out—after all, we’d bought five of these to giveaway to you and a remaining four to keep in-office. But the only thing realized was the fear that I’d abruptly swing the Yoke too close to my desk, shatter the glass and spill wine across my keyboard in what would’ve gone down as one of the most embarrassing things ever to happen as a result of a purchase made on the company credit card.
So while it’s playful, it’s not exactly utilitarian. And while clever, it’s also deeply unnecessary. It’s the one-click buy that you forget about the next morning, the low-lift purchase that you don’t bother to talk yourself out of making. It’s the thing that you use just once, simply to say that you did, and the thing that begs the question, “Why does this exist?” while simultaneously needing no explanation.
It’s the kind of thing you buy on eBay.
Editor’s Note: The sweepstakes has closed; keep an eye out for the next installment of “Sh*t We Found on eBay” for another chance to win a strange-yet-wonderful cocktail collectible.