Who needs an animatronic singing fish anyway?

Consumer Reports News: October 19, 2007 08:08 AM

Black Friday, the annual credit-card-swiping, debt-inducing, shopping-frenzy-filled kickoff to the holiday season is only five weeks away.

That means the moment has come to start assembling the list of gifts you’ll give, especially if you need extra time to seek out unique presents that inspire family, friends, and coworkers to declare, “That [fill in your name]! She [or he] always gets me the coolest stuff.”

If you’re indeed that type of person, you might have found yourself thinking, “If only someone would invent a home appliance that’s both useful and unusual, like a toaster powered by a USB input.” Or perhaps you’ve always dreamed of signing up the aspiring Gordon Ramsay in your life for membership in the Salt of the Month Club. Or maybe your cousin in rainy Seattle would welcome a Make Your Own Umbrella Kit.

Now you’re in luck . . . sort of. The cads over at The Onion, the satirical newspaper and Web site, sell GotchaBox USB toasters (shown), salt-of-the-month club memberships, and DIY umbrella kits. Great ideas for the person who’s got everything, right?

Not exactly. Each gift is a gag, an empty 12x9x4-inch box that features bogus—but believable—product graphics. You put real gifts on the inside and hope to tweak the unwitting recipients when they unwrap the presents. A single box costs $7.99, and a set of all three phony gifts runs $17.99.

Come to think of it, maybe that toaster is a good idea for anyone chained to a desk in cubicle world. We’ll have to ask our Tech department to see if the typical computer can power a toaster.Helen A.S. Popkin

Essential information: Read our buying advice for real-deal toasters, blenders, mixers, and coffeemakers to find countertop appliances that might fit inside the GotchaBoxes. 

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