I was invited to Influenster
. It is a product review company that pairs people up with products they might like (in a collection called a "VoxBox") and, in exchange for a box of full-size samples of things, asks for feedback on those freebies. I signed up on Valentine's Day, answered all kinds of simple survey questions to see what sorts of hobbies I have, what I do with my day, whether I have pets or children, whether I like to travel or drink wine or play video games or lift weights.
A few months later, I was selected to be one of 10,000 recipients of the TLC VoxBox, intended for Moms. My first box! It was pretty thrilling. I imagined that it would either be TLC for Moms (bubble bath) or TLC for babies (diaper rash cream). When I got the little adorable lavender box in the mail I was surprised to have received neither bubble bath *nor* diaper rash cream. I'll tell you what I got!Neosporin: Neo to Go!
I've seen this product before in stores and it never made any sense. Portable antibiotic ointment. The standard tubes are small enough, and secure enough with their screw-on caps, I thought surely it would fit in any Mom's purse. My daughter, being a 2 year-old daredevil and amateur walker, has frequent knee scrapes. I was happy to have another bottle of Neosporin, regardless of how silly I thought the whole "on the go" thing is. But here's the thing I just realized--the Neo to Go packaging takes one finger to operate. There's no cap to unscrew while you're holding a Band-Aid (all the while trying to keep it sterile) and pinning down a wailing child's bloody leg. There's no little cap to roll under the bathroom cabinets and down into the floor register to never be seen again. It's just a one finger trigger--squeeze and go. It's a genius invention that only makes sense if you're a parent. I'm not going to carry it in my purse. I don't carry bandages with me, that'd be a slippery slope if I started to pack for any and all potential injuries, but this is a pretty smart product for at-home injured child wrangling.Breyers Gelato Indulgences
I remember, in my youth, when Breyers
ice cream seemed high quality. Eventually they've been pushed aside by other companies like Ben & Jerry's
. My TLCVoxBox included a coupon for a free tub (28.5 oz) of the new Breyers Gelato Indulgences
. The new line, at least in my local Publix, isn't shelved with the rest of the Breyers ice cream and the $5.00-$6.00 price point seemed to signal that it was a vastly different product. It was advertised as having three different textures in each carton--sauce swirls, gelato, chocolate shavings on top.
I think gelato is magical. And while Breyers did produce something with the ultra rich and creamy texture of gelato, it did so with food science trickery. Gelato, an Italian form of ice cream, is (supposed to be) created with a special gelato machine that creates the extra dense frozen treat through a slow process that reduces the amount of incorporated air. My local gelato shop had to import all their machines from Italy to get the production right. It should be made of milk, sugar, cream, natural flavorings. Simple ingredients to get the freshest flavors.
Breyers Gelato Indulgences' Vanilla Caramel flavor contained all kinds of crap that doesn't belong in any self-respecting gelato including corn syrup in the 'caramel sauce', corn syrup in the ice cream base itself, three artificial food colorings in the 'caramelly curls', and all kinds of bullshit thickeners to simulate gelato without actually making it
. There are almost forty ingredients in a tub of this stuff. Compare that to a tub of Talenti Gelato
which ranges from about five ingredients to fifteen per flavor.
Has Breyers forgotten, in this world of laboratories and vile food additives, how to make real ice cream? If they want to compete with smaller companies that are going back to the roots of artisanal ice cream production--why not use real ingredients instead of chemical cocktails to achieve texture and taste?
It's absurd...and exactly how I'd expect a Unilever company to act.Ivory Bar Soap
I got a full bar of Ivory Soap ("99.44% pure!") in a historic throwback packaging. (I wonder if it still floats?) I can appreciate that this is a product that hasn't really been messed with since 1879. An airy, non-glycerin soap that produces good mudpie dissolving suds and isn't soaked through with dyes or perfumes. But, you know, buying a bar at a farmer's market that isn't stocked with Proctor & Gamble products would be far more satisfying.AVON Anew Reversalist Express Wrinkle Smoother
This $30 compact contains a little round reservoir of product promising to "BLUR the look of WRINKLES on the forehead & around the eyes INSTANTLY!". The compact slides open in a very cool way, looks nifty, and has a sufficiently impressive/scary ratio of multisyllabic chemical ingredients to balm volume. It even smelled like it was potent. I have no doubt that, unlike a lot of other moisturizing wrinkle creams, that this stuff probably does something to your skin to beat those wrinkles into submission. The box even had instructions on how to dab, not rub, the balm into the wrinkles.
Is that the kind of TLC I need as a Mom? I decided not and gave it to my Mom, who is less concerned with what might be going into her body or onto her skin.Puffs To Go
I got a travel pack of Puffs Plus Lotion. The tissues are impregnated with all kinds of stuff: mineral oil, alcohol, paraffin, aloe, shea butter. I normally buy tissues without lotion, but these have proved pretty handy at removing stubbornly dried-on spaghetti sauce from children's faces and hands. And hey, I need more stuff in my purse. ;)Shell Fuel Rewards Network Card
This 'product' baffles me. It is a Shell gas station loyalty card. It can track my Shell station purchases and issue me seemingly random and untrackable discounts on fuel. If I buy enough 20 oz. Cokes in the convenience store, I might save 3 cents or 5 cents or 10 cents or who knows how much off who knows how many gallons of fuel at my next refill. It would make sense if it was simple. If, every time I used it, I got a discount of $0.xx/gallon...that'd be a thing. But it is needlessly complicated, expensive, and shady--just like the petroleum industry in general. Instead, I'm going to save up for my electric car, solar panels, and shred this dumb card. It isn't a gift for anyone to loan back pennies of the billions in dirty profits you've made destroying our planet's ecosystems and harming its inhabitants.
If you have any interest in getting an invitation to Influenster and trying your luck with their products to review--please email me with your preferred email address or responding with it in the comments.