The Boston Globe profiles the last remaining shoe and boot maker in New England, Alden Shoes. The company’s classic footwear has been worn by the likes of John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Indiana Jones… and the Massachusetts state troopers. The shoes will set you back about $350-$500 a pair, but they seem like awfully nice people. “Our shoes don’t wear out,” says Robert Clark, Alden’s vice president. [Boston Globe]
Hey, do you know what’s in Nair, the creamy hair-removal product that smells like skunks? (Or used to—the current formulation is supposed to smell better.) Now, thanks to Wired’s “What’s Inside” article, you will! The active ingredient is potassium thioglycolate, a member of the thiol family, which not coincidentally is also responsible for the intense stink factor of skunk spray. Thiols “eat into keratin (a skin and hair protein), which is what makes actual skunk spray (and Nair) lock onto human flesh and fuzz.” Another chemical—calcium hydroxide—destroys the weakened hairs.
Good News: The New York Times recommends “rethinking” any beauty product that costs more than $30. [NYT]
2007 was an amazing year for consumer products and we covered them all! From the hype of the iPhone to death-flavored pet food, if you buy it, we’ve probably got an opinion about it.
Consumer Reports noticed, as so many of us have, that stainless steel is awesome until you have to clean it. With that in mind, they’ve tested a bunch of stainless steel cleaners and found that they all work just about the same.
British retailer John Lewis is selling the world’s most unintentionally disturbing baby bathtub ever. At least we hope it’s unintentional. [BoingBoing]
Over at Feministing, a reader noticed these panties in the “juniors” section at the Wal-Mart on Kildare Farms Road in Cary, NC.
Consumer Reports warns us that knockoffs aren’t just found on the streets of NYC, where peddlers push fake Gucci and Prada bags to giggling tourists. There are now “brake pads made of kitty litter, sawdust, and dried grass; power strips, extension cords, and smoke alarms with phony Underwriters Laboratories (UL) marks; medical test kits that give faulty readings; toothpaste made with a chemical found in antifreeze; and cell-phone batteries that could explode. Online drugstores claiming to operate from Canada but actually based in other countries have peddled “Lipitor” and “Celebrex” pills stored under uncontrolled conditions and containing the wrong active ingredients.”
Food marketing is largely made up of lies, but everyone already knows that. The CSPI, however, likes to find foods that are especially fraudulent in their marketing claims. These made us laugh for some reason, so we thought we’d share them with you.
Sometimes people are so surprised that they’ve reached an actual human being with their complaint email that they write in and tell us about it.
Despite all the hand-wringing on our part, we consumers don’t actually participate in recalls at a very high level. This leaves both manufacturers and the CPSC in the dark about whether their warnings are reaching the right people—which is why the House approved a bill this Tuesday that would require manufacturers of certain infant and toddler products to keep registration info on their customers.
I just wanted to let you guys know that Amazon has been tracking reviews posted for possible safety concerns. I had a rice cooker that decided to shock me several times, so I wrote an anonymous review back in January. Unexpectedly, a few weeks ago, I get an email from Amazon asking about the incident. Given the gap between the review and the email, I suspect this is a new program on their part. A copy of their email is below.
Maybe Television Idiot Syndrome (a term we just made up) is reversible: a new study says you can reduce the risk of having an antisocial, depressive child if you reduce his television viewing to less than two hours per day by age 5 1/2. Just make sure you don’t fill up those two hours with Baby Einstein vids. [Reuters]
Meet Wu Yi. The 68-year old Vice Premier, the highest ranking woman in the Communist Party, has been tasked with one mission: toss the Chinese Poison Train back into the rapidly industrializing nation’s toy-chest.
Here’s some depressing news: US companies increasingly export products that do not meet our safety standards, says the Washington Post.
It may seem crazy to loyal readers of the Consumerist, but people often important news when it comes to product recalls. NPR introduces us to James Millard Wilson, an art student in Baltimore who missed the news of the American Medical Optic (AMO) Complete MoisturePLUS Multipurpose Contact Lens Solution. He used to solution and got a painful eye infection that could have lead to blindness if he hadn’t gone to the hospital.
The NYT has an article today about the terrifying rate of package redesign, a phenomenon the industry blames on, what else—the internet. Oh, and Tivo.