My family will never let my mother forget the time she bought Ginsu knives off the TV. You remember the ad, if you're my age or older -- the knife cutting through steel cans and frozen blocks of spinach? And you remember the set of steak knives and the carving fork that you got for free? The whole lot (cheap plastic grips and all) lived in our cutlery drawers for years after the single, impulsive, atypical day that my mom picked up the phone and called the toll free number.
People are still buying stuff off the TV, it seems, because the commercials selling the stuff are still everywhere. I was briefly fascinated by the reality series Pitchmen before star Billy Mays' death, partly because it detailed the grammar necessary to qualify for special TV offer -- including BOGO, the standard "we'll double your order!" thrown in for free (just pay separate shipping & handling).
What makes me sad, though, is how quickly yesterday's starring product becomes today's bonus freebie. Consider the amazing vegetable chopper, that hand-powered device to which whole infomercials were devoted years ago. Now if you buy the Pasta Boat, you not only get two Pasta Boats (of course) but also two amazing choppers. A whole 5 precious seconds of TV ad time is allotted to the chopper in the Pasta Boat ad.
Next year I fully expect to be able to get those two Pasta Boats thrown in to sweeten the deal for some other gadget I can't live without. And I imagine the demoted products shedding a little tear as they're thrown into the shipping box solely to squeeze an extra s&h charge out of customers, remembering the days when a television personality lovingly demonstrated them for studio audiences full of admiring fans.