Ronald M. Popeil (born May 3, 1935 in
City; ) is an American inventor and marketing
personality, best known for his direct response marketing company
He is well known for his
appearances in infomercials
Showtime Rotisserie ("Set it, and forget it!") and for using
's (Ginsu knife creator) famous
lines, "But wait, there's more!" and "Now
how much would
you pay?" Each phrase followed the addition of another item or
feature to the catalog of a product's advantages or attachments.
The advertisements frequently answered the "how much?" question
with potential prices, followed by the dramatically lower actual
price, which was also a Valenti
Personal life and career
Popeil learned his trade from his father, Samuel, who was also an
inventor and carny
salesman of kitchen-related
such as the Chop-O-Matic
and the Veg-O-Matic
. The Chop-O-Matic retailed for
3.98 and sold over two
million units. The invention
Chop-O-Matic caused a problem that marked the entrance of Ron
Popeil into television. It turned out that the Chop-O-Matic was so
efficient at chopping vegetables, that it was impractical for
salesmen to carry the vegetables they needed to chop. The solution
was to tape the demonstration. Once the demonstration was taped, it
was a short step to broadcasting
demonstration as a commercial
Popeil received the Ig Nobel Prize
Consumer Engineering in 1993. The awards committee described him as
the "incessant inventor
pitchman of late night television
awarded the prize in recognition of his "redefining the industrial
revolution" with his devices.
In August 2005, he sold his company, Ronco, to Fi-Tek VII
, a Denver holding company
, for US$55 million. He said
he plans to continue serving as the spokesman
but wants to spend more time with his family. As of 2006, he lives
in Beverly Hills,
California, with his wife, Robin Popeil and 2 of his 5
daughters; Ashley Tisdale is his
Some of his better-known products, and their original sale pitches,
- Chop-O-Matic hand food processor. "Ladies and gentlemen, I'm
going to show you the greatest kitchen appliance ever made... All
your onions chopped to perfection without shedding a single
- Dial-O-Matic, successor to the Veg-O-Matic. "Slice a tomato so
thin it only has one side."
- Popeil Pocket Fisherman. "The biggest fishing invention since
the hook...and still only $19.95!" (According to the program
original product was the invention of Popeil's father and only
marketed by Ronco, but as of 2006, Popeil had introduced a
redesigned version of the product.)
- Mr. Microphone, a short-range hand-held radio transmitter that
broadcast over FM radios. A convertible rolls up to a curb and an
enthusiastic young man shouts out "Hey, good looking, I'll be back
to pick you up later!" followed by the pitch "Broadcast your voice
on any FM radio!!!"
- Inside-The-Shell Egg Scrambler. "Gets rid of those slimy egg
whites in your scrambled eggs." Popeil has said the inspiration for
this product was his lifelong revulsion toward incompletely blended
- Six Star 20-Piece Cutlery Set.
- Solid Flavor Injector. This product accompanied the Showtime
rotisserie grill and was used to inject solid ingredients into meat
or other foods. A similar product, called the Liquid Flavor Injector, allowed for
the injecting of liquid ingredients into meat (e.g., lime juice
- GLH-9 Hair in a Can Spray (Great Looking Hair Formula #9).
- Drain Buster.
- Smokeless Ashtray - "Does cigar and cigarette smoke irritate
your eyes?" Commercials showed this device drawing smoke from
burning cigarettes back into the ashtray itself.
- Electric Food Dehydrator - "Instead of giving kids candy, give
them apple snacks or banana chips. And it's great if you're a
hunter, fisherman, backpacker, or camper. Makes beef jerky for
around $3 a pound, and you know what went in it, because you made
- Ronco Popeil Automatic Pasta Maker.
- Showtime Rotisserie, a small rotisserie oven designed for cooking smaller
sized portions of meat such as whole chicken
and lamb. "Set it, and forget it!"
- The Cap Snaffler - "Snaffles caps off any size jug, bottle, or
jar… and it really, really works."
- The Showtime Six Star Plus 25 Knife Set and the Solid Flavor
Injector. "Three easy payments of $13.33!"
Impact on popular culture
- "Weird Al" Yankovic recorded the
song "Mr. Popeil" on his second studio album, "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D. The song was a "style
parody" (i.e., not a direct parody of a specific song, but
emulating a performer's specific style) of the early music of the
B-52's (and bore a striking resemblance
to their first hit single, "Rock
Lobster"). The verses are structured as pitches for unnamed but
easily recognizable Ronco products, and draws upon all the catchphrases associated with the Ronco
infomercials, including the phrases "It slices! It dices!", "Take
advantage of this amazing TV offer!", and Ed Valenti's more
commonly heard phrase"Now how much would you pay?". One of
Weird Al's background vocalists was Lisa Popeil, sister of Ron
Popeil. This song is actually a tribute to Samuel Popeil, Ron Popeil's father, who was in
the same business of inventing and selling products.
- On his 1983 album, Affordable Art, Steve Goodman sings
Vegematic. It is a narration of a man who falls asleep with the TV
on and orders from every infomertial that airs, he then awakes,
believing it was a dream. After 4–6 weeks, he does actually receive
every single product he dreamt about, revealing that it was no
dream. Most notable in the song are the Vegematic, Ginsu knife,
Pocket Fisherman, and numerous items from/for Six Flags (theme
park) Over Burbank.
- In the X-Files episode
"Beyond the Sea,"
Scully is shown sleeping while Ron Popeil touts the wonders of his
Spray-On Hair (Great Looking Hair Formula #9) for only $39.95. The
ad continues for a few seconds, displaying the product's fabulous
abilities before shifting to show Scully awakening to the ghost of
her recently deceased father.
- Lemon Demon references Popeil in
their song, "Hyakugojyuuichi 2003", off of the album Clown
Circus with the line, "Props to Neil, he’s the real deal, His
friends all call him Mr. Popeil."
- Twiztid makes reference to him on their
album Mutant Vol. 2 on the song Stardust claiming "We're gonna
be the new Ron Popeils" after it is made clear they will market a
product of unknown details.
- The "Veg-O-Matic" was parodied by Dan
Aykroyd in an episode of Saturday Night Live as the "Super
Bass-O-Matic '76". This parody is mentioned in the
Biography episode on Popeil.
- "Dodge Veg-O-Matic" is a song by Jonathan Richman from the album Rock N
Roll With The Modern Lovers (1977).
- The "Veg-O-Matic" provided the inspiration for the
"Sledge-O-Matic" routine used by comedian Gallagher since the 1980s.
- In the film Major
League, while hazing rookie Rick Vaughn, Roger Dorn asks
if he had cut his hair using a "Veg-O-Matic".
- In the book The Slacker Confessions, Tommy Campbell writes, "... all while
watching any infomercial starring the genius himself, Ron
- In the episode "A Big Piece
of Garbage," from the television series Futurama, Popeil is said to be the inventor of
technology that allows heads to be kept
alive in jars indefinitely (Popeil's own head, voiced by
himself, appears in the episode). In the later episode "The Luck of the Fryrish" Fry keeps
his lucky seven-leaf-clover in a "Ronco Record Vault"
- In the episode "Won’t You
Pimai Neighbor?," from the television series "King of the Hill," Dale Gribble states that
if Bobby Hill incorrectly chooses from among the items possibly
owned by the late Lama Sanglung, Bobby Hill will win a cap snaffler
and that the cap snaffler, "Snaffles caps of any size jug, bottle
or jar...and it really really works.".
- In the episode "The Perils of
Polling" from the television series "King of the Hill," Dale Gribble asks if
Hank got him a cap snaffler while Hank and Dale are being escorted
to the polling place by the police.
- In the episode of The
Simpsons entitled "Radio Bart",
Bart Simpson receives a "Superstar Celebrity Microphone" for his
birthday. The toy and the TV advertisements for it were modeled
after Ronco's "Mr. Microphone".
- In the movie Old School during
the morning-after hangover scene, Ron Popeil is on the TV; Vince Vaughn and company are watching.
- During a scene in Elizabethtown, you can see Popeil
showing his knives on Orlando Bloom's
television. (Bloom's character was having suicidal thoughts.)
- The Daily Show featured a clip with
the famous line "Set it and forget it!" — from the Showtime
Rotisserie commercial — after showing the "catch phrase"
discussions of the Senate debating over the War in Iraq.
- The Beastie Boys reference him in
their song 'Crawlspace', when Adrock says "I got more product than
- The character RJ Raccoon in the film adaptation of Over the Hedge uses a Popeil
Pocket Fisherman several times throughout the film.
- In 1993, the Ig Nobel Award for
Consumer Engineering was presented to Ron Popeil, "incessant
inventor and perpetual pitchman of late night television, for
redefining the industrial revolution with such devices as the
Veg-O-Matic, the Pocket Fisherman, Mr. Microphone, and the
Inside-the-Shell Egg Scrambler."
- In "X2: X-Men United", Popeil
is playing on the television briefly when the school is
- In "The Kingdom", Popeil is playing on the television while
Jamie Foxx is interviewing a family after the terrorist
- In the film Little Miss
Sunshine Ron Popeil is shown doing a Showtime Rotisserie Grill
commercial on the TV in the background as the family is in the
hospital waiting room.
- In the book "What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures", by
Malcolm Gladwell, Ron Popeil is
interviewed and many of his products, most notably the Veg-O-Matic
and Showtime Rotisserie, are discussed.