Once upon a time, Shopping Siren stayed up late to watch infomercials. Bleary-eyed and not entirely coherent, I marveled at the amazing hair cutting vacuum, the kitchen knives that cut through tin cans and a super-sealed cooking pot that kept food piping hot all day, even in the refrigerator.

Imagine it. I could have chili simmering in the fridge right now.

Alas, it was not to be. Those offers were For a Limited Time Only and Not Available In Stores and I was not old enough yet to have my own credit card. (Or, honestly, to be watching infomercials at 3 a.m., but oh, I was a die-hard shopper even then.) The Flowbee and the Ginsu knives and that miraculous pot — I never did learn the name — were all lost to the rising sun.

It was very sad.

But wait!

It’s some years later and I am now old enough to both have a credit card and stay up past my bedtime. The irony is, now I don’t need to! Local stores are filled with As Seen on TV gadgets and gizmos. Granted, no Flowbees or Ginsu knives or that cooking pot that haunts my dreams, but there are Snuggies and ShamWows and Mighty Putty, oh my. Many of them less than $19.99, no shipping and handling required.

Act now! Or act later. Just remember, unlike operators standing by, store clerks frown on shoppers in their pajamas.

• Snuggie, Olympia Sports, $14.99

Part blanket, part robe, the shapeless Snuggie was made to be publicly mocked and secretly desired. As in, “What’s that? Oh my God, you have a Snuggie! What a dork!” just before you steal the Snuggie and run.

• ShamWow, Olympia Sports, $19.99

I admit it: This ever-absorbent material intrigues me. Or maybe it’s the thought of never having to buy paper towels again. Either way, I’d happily plunk down $20 to check out the ShamWow. If I had an extra $20. Which I don’t. Because I spent it on paper towels. It’s a vicious circle.

• Iron Gym, Olympia Sports, $34.99

You can almost hear the infomercial announcer’s booming voice in the motto on the box: “Get strong . . . get ripped . . . quick!” Yes! Um. Though I’m not really sure how. This odd looking piece of workout equipment features a straight bar connected to a curvy bar thingy and it’s all supposed to be good for pull-ups, sit-ups, push-ups and all the other fitness ups you can think of. I like my workout equipment to be a little less confusing, but maybe the Iron Gym just seems puzzling because I haven’t seen the explanatory infomercial. Or, you know, it’s just been way too long since I’ve done a pull-up.

•Bendaroos, Olympia Sports, $23.99

Colorful bendy building sticks let kids create innovative 3-D art. Or cover your living room couch. They’re waxy! They’re semi-sticky! They’re fun for all!

• Stick N Click lights, Staples, $9.99

Package of three portable LED lights that you can, yes, stick places and click on. You know that dark attic crawl space you’ve got? Now you can see what’s in there! Unless you don’t want to be reminded of all the things you’ve thrown, er, stored there. Like the Iron Gym.

• Wonder Hanger, Staples, $9.99

All right, who doesn’t want to triple their closet space? Seriously. Who?

• Loud ‘N Clear, Staples, $14.99

A “personal sound amplifier” disguised as a Bluetooth headset. Because it’s always fun to eavesdrop on people.

Best find: Mighty Putty, Staples, $7.50

According to the box, you can use this putty to fix, fill or seal almost anything, including leaky pipes, wood frames and ceramic coffee mugs. As a first-time homeowner, this seems like a Very Good Thing. Almost as good as the pot that can cook food in the refrigerator.

Think twice: Bumpits, Staples, $9.99

OK, honestly? While I completely sympathize with anyone who needs more volume to their hair, I don’t think the Bumpit is the way to go about it. This self-gripping hair insert only “volumizes” the back, making you look like you’ve recently obtained a severe blow to the head. Perfect strangers will offer you an icepack. Small children will point at you and cry. Your friends will take your arm, lead you off to a quiet corner and gently ask if there’s anything you’d like to talk about. That’s probably not the kind of attention you want from your hair. Unless you do. In which case, Flowbee anyone?

Shopping Siren’s true identity is protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who were secretly delighted to learn there’s now a Snuggie for dogs) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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