Was Honest Abe honest? That's the rhetorical question being posed in a popular Geico ad in which Mary Todd Lincoln asks the president if her dress makes "my backside look big?" and Lincoln replies, "perhaps a ..." before she bustles off.
On Presidents' Day we celebrate Lincoln's 202 birthday as well as his reputation for veracity. (Truth be told, his actual birthday is Feb. 12.) So in the spirit of frank discussion, we took another look at 10 products in our labs whose claims we've checked recently.
Claim: An add-on that lets you "monitor and detect lint buildup in your dryer duct."
Check: We installed one and compared readings with a pressure gauge.
Honest enough for Abe? An attention-getting yes.
Hamilton Beach voice-activated coffeemaker
Claim: "With its voice-activated technology, consumers are guided through the step-by-step process of programming the appliance."
Check: Male and female testers addressed the java machine.
Honest enough for Abe? A mumbled no.
Valspar's ultimate hiding formula
Claim: Valspar Signature Colors with Hi-Def Advanced Color System is "paint and primer in one product."
Check: We compared Valspar's red paint with three competitors.
Honest enough for Abe? Depends what you're painting.
Duracell myGrid recharger pad
Claim: "Easily charge up to four mobile devices at the same time."
Check: Testers used it to recharge a variety of portable devices.
Honest enough for Abe? Recharging was not so easy.
Sunchips compostable bag
Claim: "World's first 100% compostable chip package."
Check: We kept a compostable bag in a well-attended home compost pile for 13 weeks.
Honest enough for Abe? To our dismay, little sign of decay.
Masterbuilt Butterball indoor electric turkey fryer
Claim: Makes "the best turkey you've ever tasted," the box notes, and is "great for frying, boiling and steaming all foods."
Check: We deep-fried turkeys weighing almost 12 pounds as well as a whole chicken, chicken parts, and pizza dough.
Honest enough for Abe? Consider gobbling one up.
Claim: The two adjustable straps are "the best moving tool ever," and "employ leverage, making the pieces you carry feel lighter."
Check: Pairs of testers used the straps to move a bookcase, a gas range and a refrigerator.
Honest enough for Abe? A moving experience.
Claim: The sponge-filled, vented rubber ball, "is the fastest way to get wrinkles out without getting the iron out."
Check: Using men's cotton shirts, we compared results to other wrinkle-removal methods.
Honest enough for Abe? Not a smooth operator.
Pledge fabric sweeper for pet hair
Claim: That the two lint-collecting, fabric-covered rollers work together to "grab, lift, and trap hair inside."
Check: With the help of a dog and two cats, compared the sweeper to three other devices.
Honest enough for Abe? Take the pledge.
Samsung washer with PowerFoam
Claim: At the start of the cycle water, air, and detergent combine to form a deep-cleaning foam, which increases cleaning power.
Check: We washed loads of stained laundry at various cycles and temperatures.
Honest enough for Abe? A washout.
—Mary HJ Farrell