The Age of Steam

Every once in a while infomercials get swept up in a fad for a particular type of product. One after another copycat product will appear, and when the fad is in full force it can even seem that the product-type of the moment threatens to crowd out all others from the paid programming airwaves.

Back in the mid-1990s the Ab Roller inspired dozens of copycat products. For about a year various types of ab roller equipment dominated the infomercial airwaves. Then all the infomercials for ab rollers suddenly disappeared as quickly as they had sprung up. Soon after, infomercials for various types of glider exercise machines, such as the Tony Little Gazelle, seem to take their place before they vanished as well.

We seem to be in a period of one of these fads right now. Tune in to late-night TV and you’ll be told that there is no kind of cleaning job that cannot be solved quickly and thoroughly by steam. The steam-based products being sold through infomercials right now include: Shark Steam Mop, The Tobi, Pressa Bella, Mira Bella, H2O Vac, H2O Mop, Rug Doctor Mighty Pro, and Steam Buddy.

I’m not sure why the steam fad came about at this moment and I’m not sure how long the steam cleaning and ironing machine trend might last. Unfortunately, most of these steam product infomercials are pretty dull; the only interesting one is the Press Bella infomercial where Forbes Riley has an orgasm every time steam shoots out of the product.

What fad, if any, will replace this mania for steam cleaners and steam irons is anyone’s guess. But I don’t think the age of steam will continue with infomercials peddling steam cookers.