Samantha Engel, 25, of Valparaiso is hooked on infomercial kitchen wares.
"Even when I'm shopping in a store and I see that little 'As seen on TV' sign, I get pulled in," Engel said. "I love the gadgets."
Ronco, the company responsible for the parade of most popular kitchen lines and TV infomercials, touting top products like their Pasta Maker, Smart Juicer, EZ Store Dyhydrator and Showtime Rotisserie, is celebrating 50 years in business with a new marketing face and fresh product innovations.
Ron Popeil, 78, the inventor who started the company and served as the familiar face pitchman, decided to semi-retire and now Ronco is operated by CD3 Holdings, Inc. based in Austin, Texas. Following his inventor father Samuel Popeil's footsteps, Ron was raised in Chicago and learned his earliest selling techniques on Chicago's Maxwell Street. One of his first and most popular gadgets was the Veg-O-Matic, decades later, followed by other lines like Mr. Microphone and the Pocket Fisherman.
Popeil, who now lives in California, flew to Chicago this spring to attend the International Home and Housewares Show at McCormick Place to meet the newest face fronting the Ronco line. Eydie Webster was just named CD3 Holdings, Inc.'s new vice president of sales and marketing last September. Webster, who is wife and mother and lives in Austin, Texas, was previously CD3's national retail director and is now busy launching Ronco’s social media and public relations campaigns.
"These are the same products so many people grew up using and watching in those familiar infomercials," Webster said.
"But now, we've made them even better and added new options to the existing lines. There's more emphasis than ever before on tools and products for healthy and innovative cooking."
Some of Webster's Ronco favorites are:
• Chip-Tastic: Makes at-home healthy potato chips with the ability to control how much salt and seasoning levels for "guilt-free" snacks. $19.99
• Veg-O-Matic: The gadget that started it all, with the promise of: "Slices, dices and makes chopping veggies fun!" $19.99
• Smart Juicer: To make what she describes as the healthiest, most nutrient-rich juices possible, all with an easy clean-up. $199.98
• EZ-Store Dehydrator/Beef Jerky Maker: Makes homemade jerky and dried fruit snacks for a far more affordable budge without any of the store preservatives. $69.99/$49.99
• EZ-Store Rotisserie Oven: To make mouthwatering rotisserie chicken with less fat in less time than a conventional oven. $179.98
Webster said she's not exactly ready to appear in front of the camera just yet, pitching products in TV infomercials in the way made so famous by Popeil, including his enticement tag: "But wait! There's more! Call now and receive this free set of knives!"
"I have helped with some of the commercials and video segments that we've produced for the web," Webster said.
"That's actually my kitchen at my home in Austin and my counters you see shown in the demonstrations filmed for those video clips."
Webster has kept busy building new campaigns to highlight the bonus changes her company has added to the Ronco line, for example, manufacturing many of the product favorites an a variety of colors to match kitchens.
"These treasured kitchen favorites not only work better than ever with new innovated designs, but they also look nicer to add to the appeal consumers value so much."
For more information, visit ronco.com.