Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The history of the microwave, and how to sell more high definition TVs.

After I blogged about our charbroiled brownie incident, I was reminded of the first microwave my family ever owned.

It was was back in the dark ages, when microwaves were first available for home use. My mother saw them demonstrated at our county fair, and nothing would do until she had one. She was, after all, a working woman who spent eight hours a day with a horde of manic third graders who came to school sugared up on PopTarts and GrapeApe Fizzies. And I do mean horde: one year she taught 38 students - without the assistance of a room mother, classroom aide, or even a highly skilled meerkat. This was back in the days when public school teachers actually taught kids to read and write, made only $12,000 a year doing it, and didn't have to pass through a metal detector on their way to work. But I digress.

Mom needed some domestic help. So when my parents built a new house, Mom got her microwave oven.

In retrospect, I'm not sure that microwave was the big time-saver my mom hoped it would be. As I recall, it took about 8 minutes to cook a couple of hot dogs. I could have exhaled warm air on a hot dog and cooked it faster than that technological wonder.

And the machine was a behemoth. It was actually a part of the regular oven, so to use the microwave feature, we had to first LOCK the oven door, probably to keep the microwaves from escaping. I'm not convinced that the locking feature actually worked. I'm pretty sure we were probably exposed to sixteen trillion deadly cancer-causing microwaves every time we cooked a hot dog, which was pretty often since my mom wasn't really into roasting a nice pork loin after being with those boogery eight year olds all day. Then we set the little knob to "micro-cook," and adjusted the timer, and pushed "START." Then we could look through the glass oven door (probably unknowingly microwaving our retinas) and watch our two little hot dogs be bombarded with invisible rays of heat. It was kind of pitiful, really. The little weiners looked so lonely in that cavernous oven, slowly being microwaved into pinkish brown doneness. The prehistoric method of heating a hot dog over a flame seemed so much more humane to me.

Eventually the early model microwave gave way to a countertop model. This was a big step into modern living, even though the new model was roughly the same size as our doghouse. Of course, today my parents are using a tiny built-in model that can cook enough hot dogs for the entire US Army in 20 seconds, and while my mother still doesn't roast a nice pork loin, she can reheat a cup of coffee better than anyone I know.

On a semi-related note, I have noticed that people will buy nearly anything that's demonstrated at the county or state fair. I bet 90% of fair goers end up waddling out to their cars, in a mental stupor brought on by consumption of caramel apples and funnel cakes, with bags of Super Sponges, CrapBGone Cleaning Solution, and the New & Improved Piano Tuner Career Program on DVD, not to mention intentions of buying that sewing machine/electric guitar combination machine that was being hawked in the 4H building.

In light of this, I have a suggestion for Best Buy and all those other big electronic stores. I think you'd sell a lot more HDTVs and PDAs if you gave your stores more of a state fair flavor. Park a few sheep out in the parking lot, put a butter sculpture near the front door, and maybe install a Tilt-A-Whirl in the back corner. If you folks in the marketing deparment need more ideas, just send me an email.

I'll get right back to you, as soon as I find those C-More Lenses eyeglasses which I purchased at the state fair under the guarantee to "aid the vision of those with microwave-damaged retinas."

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