Crappy Products That Simply "Look Like" The Real Thing

Lately I’ve run across products of such shitty quality that all you can really say is they look like a real product. An old-time example would be “American cheese”. Whether you like it or not, you have to agree that it’s not cheese - it just looks like cheese.


A plunger I bought at the grocery store looked like a plunger, but the rubber cup was so stiff that it could never form a seal with the toilet bowl, hence no plunging function.

Bought some pingpong balls that looked like the real thing, but on opening the package, they were a completely nonstandard material, some kind of softish plastic with a big seam around the middle. Could not be used to play pingpong.

Just picked up a pencil that looked like it had an eraser, but the eraser was a hard plastic, not rubber, so it just made a big scratch across the paper.

My kids often come home from parties with “goody bags” filled with things that look like toys - whistles, erasers, tiny pinball games, tops, plastic slinkys - but they usually don’t work at all.

The common thread seems to be products made out of plastic or rubber. Somewhere in China there’s a factory cranking this crap out but they haven’t quite mastered the art of plastic compounding.

I have a plastic slinky that wouldn’t walk down stairs even if I put it on a rollerskate.

Stupid salt looks like sugar, but try putting it in your coffee.

I’ve never gotten a slinky to walk down any stairs. Just one step then it stops.
Some stuff comes with that red and white “As Seen on TV” logo. I always want those products. I once bought a meat thermometer/meat fork that had that logo. Or so I thought. On closer inspection it had “similar to” in a very small font just above the logo.

Cheap soap that looks like soap but doesn’t foam up at all – you might as well be rubbing a candle against your skin.

Or, conversely, putting sugar on your steak.

But you can wash off a steak. :smiley:

The book “Poorly Made in China” has an excellent description of how these things happen. I loved that book.

My dad bought a wine bottle opener that couldn’t open a bottle. It was close to the right shape, but just a tad bit off. Presumably an importing company brought a bottle opener to a factory in China somewhere, said, “Can you make something exactly like this?” and got something very similar but not quite close enough.

I love knockoff stories. My husband got a watch once that was the brand Bolivia, with the tuning fork logo and everything. And then, years ago, a relative came back from China with a sack full of “Rolexes.” They worked fine, for about two weeks. Then they died, and nowhere to replace the battery.

Someone here had a story about an iPhone that was just a case—or something like that. Looks real! Make calls? Not so much.

The original metal slinky will walk down a whole staircase. I’ve made it happen many a time back in my remote childhood.

I’m sure somebody will come up with a youtube of it. I can’t since I’m at work.

When I worked at Radio Shack, a couple of decades ago, they had a free flashlight promotion. They sent us the flashlights just dumped into a big cardboard box, like they were shoveling them out of a bin at the warehouse. The things were so low quality that a minimum of 50% didn’t work right out of the box. To add insult to injury, these flashlights took 4 C batteries, so you’d have to shell out a fair bit of coin just to find out your free flashlight was a non functioning POS.

I’m sure they alienated a fair number of potential customers with that fiasco. Of course, the only people who cut out a coupon for a free flashlight are penny pinching retirees, so I suppose not much was lost.

Silly old person. These are for beer pong and cheap ping pongs=more money for beer.

I once bought some bungee cords at a dollar store. I didn’t notice until I opened the package that the hooks were made of plastic; as soon as you hooked them on something and stretched the cord, they broke off. :smack:

Here you go: Slinky goes down the stairs - YouTube

The dollar store is full of these:

I was delighted to find 7-oz. bags of what looked like coffee. After preparation and consumption, I believe it was made of ash.

Another time, I found a box of what looked like pencils. The erasers were fine, but the lead would break if you looked at it sternly.

They usually have good notebooks for the price. I bought one that looked like the kind of diary you had when you were a kid. Took it home and discovered that most of the pages were bound on two or three sides.

I’ve never played beer pong, but isn’t it part of the game that the balls need to bounce?

I bought a stack of watercolor paper at a job lot. It least that’s what it was advertised as. It behaved more like a sponge.

Not really. You overhand toss the ball and try to make it into the cup. At my school, if the ball bounced on the table before it touched a cup, the opposing team was allowed one defensive swat.

Quite the opposite. Bouncing is bad.

Good thread.
I vote for those cheap towels and t-shirts that vendors sell at beachside stores-they are made in China, Pakistan, India etc.-they are so cheaply made that they fall apart.
I have had experience with cheap, chinese-made tools-hammers that crack, screwdrivers that twist and break.
It is possible to make stuff so cheap that it is useless.
That’s why it is better to buy quality-it is cheaper in the long run.