..But Wait, There More: Ronco Declares Bankruptcy

Well- another Father’s day went by and I didn’t get what I had hoped for from my children. I guess I should be happy that I didn’t end up with a Popeil Pocket Fisherman.

For years now we have been bombarded with TV commercials trying to sell you everything from the Veg-O-Matic ( It slices, it dices, it makes 100s of French fries..) to Ginsu knives. We have bought a few items through the years. I had the record vacuum that you place your vinyl LP in and it spins it around and sucks off the dust. ( I ruined my brother’s Mike Oldsfield Tubular Bells record with it.)

I had bought my mother the Armorcote non-stick pan. It worked till the non-stick part came off in a dish she was making.

I even still have a few LPs that were made with the Ronco label. One from the UK has a great collection of New Wave hits.

Well it looks like that famous name of Ronco will be taking it Final Taxi as they have filed for bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Woodland Hills, California.

Ron Popeil, 72, started the Chatsworth, California-based company around 1958 and became a household name by hawking products in late-night television ads. He was known for infomercials selling his products and got his start pitching his father’s Veg-O-Matic manual food processor . During the 1970s, Ron Popeil began developing products on his own to sell through Ronco. Ronco became a household name with its commercials for kitchen products including the Ginsu knife, and Armorcote (and Armorecote II) non-stick saucepans and frying pans. They aired incessantly, especially during off-hour TV viewing times, these commercials became known for their catchphrases such as “…but wait, there’s more!” “50-year guarantee” (later expanded to a “lifetime guarantee”), and “…how much would you pay now?”

Other inventions by Popeil include a machine that scrambles eggs inside the shell, a food dehydrator, an automatic pasta maker and a spray to cover bald spots on people’s heads. Among the company’s best-selling gadgets is the Pocket Fisherman, a compact rod and reel. I think my kids bought my wife the Showtime Rotisserie, a small oven designed for cooking meat and poultry, using Popeil’s latest catch-phrase: “Set it, and forget it.”

I know people who still have the electric shock to tighten up your stomach muscles with a 9 volt battery- or the one that shocks your acne away.

Ronco’s television ads were so familiar to viewers that they were spoofed by several comedians including Dan Aykroyd’s famous 1976 sketch on “Saturday Night Live.” In the sketch, Aykroyd advertises the “Super Bass-O-Matic ’76” by “Rovco,” a blender that

turns a whole fish into a brown liquid, which is then drunk by Laraine Newman, who co-starred in the segment.

“Wow, that’s terrific bass!” she says.

Stand-up comedian Gallagher satirizes Ronco with perhaps his most famous routine involving a large wooden mallet called the “Sledge-o-Matic”, used to pulverize fruit, other food items and still other random objects. Gallagher delivers the routine in a manner similar to Popeil in his infomercials.

According to a court filing, its current assets include inventory of $7.7 million and $3 million in cash and uncollected bills. The company said it generated $45 million of revenue last year. The company has arranged bankruptcy financing, and the restructuring is supported by secured lenders, he said. A hearing to approve the new loan and other court requests has been set for June 19.

So is this the end of Ronco? Somehow I think we may still hear the phase “..but wait, there’s more..”

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2 Responses

  1. Act now and we’ll throw in a set of steak-knives…

  2. I remember these products— GREAT POST!

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