EVERYONE'S A CRITIC
HUTZLER BANANA SLICER
The Hutzler Banana Slicer is advertised as providing "a quick solution to slice a banana uniformly each and every time." The 5,000-plus customer reviews for this kitchen implement spoof its uselessness in bizarre yet creative ways.
"Saved my marriage. What can I say about the 571B Banana Slicer that hasn't already been said about the wheel, penicillin, or the iPhone ... this is one of the greatest inventions of all time. My husband and I would argue constantly over who had to cut the day's banana slices. It's one of those chores NO ONE wants to do!"
SUGAR-FREE HARIBO GUMMY BEARS
Amazon reviewers relate crazy-elaborate stories of the gastrointestinal upsets caused by these artificially sweetened gummy bears. The original product has since been removed, but the reviews were so beloved that Amazon preserved them.
"Try as I might, the bears were fighting back, seemingly set on draining my body, in its entirety, of life-giving liquid. It was no good. I would have to try to make it to the restroom."
MALE BLADDER CATHETERIZATION MODEL
This graphic, expensive model of the male reproductive system has only six reviews on Amazon, and all give a bit of disturbing insight.
"I was amazed by the ease of insertion of the catheter. All that was missing was screaming from the patient."
Many reviewers have a strange but seemingly sincere affinity for this useless gag gift, a plastic pickle that yodels -- badly. It's been used as a children's toy, calmed an Alzheimer's patient, and reconnected family members.
"My son left for college without a backward glance at his heartbroken mother, and never called home. After several months of heartbreak and loneliness, I sent him the yodeling pickle. The results were astonishing: As soon as he received it, he called to ask why anyone would want a yodeling pickle? Thanks, Yodeling Pickle, your work is done."
'SKYFALL' ON BLU-RAY
Customer reviews for movies on Amazon can be notoriously one-sided. You can find both sneering reviews of beloved gems as well as glowing reviews of critical bombs. Here, for example, is an even-handed look at the Bond film "Skyfall," which took in $1.1 billion in worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo, and is rated 92 percent "Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes.
"Never seen it, but sucky theme song equals sucky movie ... I have to update my review. I have seen it and it had to be the worst Bond movie of all time. I didn't even watch the whole thing."
GIANT GUMMY BEARS PARTY PYTHON
You might think no one would spend $150 on a 27-pound snake made of sugar and gelatin that'll only become slimy, hairy, and stale after the first day. The four "verified purchase" reviews for this gummy snake beg to differ.
"It was rather difficult to carry this on the train. You feel every single one of those 26.9 pounds. It was, however, a worthy endeavor; the snake has enough meat to satisfy an office for days, and the recipient was very excited. It is a worthy investment for snake lovers."
NICOLAS CAGE PILLOWCASE
Nicolas Cage has become a cult hero for his unhinged acting style, so the reviews for a pillowcase bearing his shirtless likeness are as creepy as you might expect.
"I feel so protected knowing that Nicolas is in bed with me. This pillowcase is the first thing I see when I've awakened, and the last thing I see before I close my eyes for my deep slumber. The pure sexiness of this man's picture on your pillow will inspire you. Are you having relationship issues, family fights, or a crippling mental illness? Nicolas can ease the pain."
Buyer beware: Trying to control or even just run away from a 12-foot beach ball can get difficult in windy weather, this reviewer warns.
"Once it was completely blown up (about an hour and a half with a small air compressor), it bounced ... EVERYWHERE ... across people, picnic tables, a horse fence, the neighbor's yard, and INTO A FOUR-LANE HIGHWAY!!!!!!! My partygoer teens were trying to keep it from causing a pile-up in front of our house!"
As with the more popular horse head mask, customers seem to buy this whole-head penguin mask only because of how unsettling it looks.
"Bought it for when I cook. It makes cooking 10 times more enjoyable, as I can feel the breeze of the Antarctic. (Not really, It's super hot and I almost fainted.)"
BUDDHA MAITREYA THE CHRIST HEAD PYRAMID
Why pay $72 for a 9-inch wire pyramid? For meditation and healing purposes, of course -- or for keeping produce fresh.
"Absolutely love my new copper pyramids!! I suspend them over my fresh fruits and vegetables. My produce keeps much longer with the pyramids above them!!!"
The reviews for this tin of real uranium ore range from the obvious gags to the sincere recommendations of scientists experimenting with gamma radiation. This review lies somewhere between.
"This is probably the most pointless thing I've ever bought (and that is saying a lot). I had to have it, though. I wanted to be a nuclear power before Iran."
Sometimes bizarre reviews are left even for mundane products. Case in point: this user's excessive devotion to her QEP yellow sponges -- or "friends," as she calls them.
"If I could give these sponges a million stars, I would. I love them so much I couldn't even bring myself to use them. I drew faces on them, and they are now my friends and I have a little over 40 sponges! I am soon ordering more."
As with many '90s relics, some people take their nostalgia for the sugar-packed, neon-green soft drink Surge to unsettling extremes.
"If you're bald, you'll grow hair. If you have a small penis, you'll suddenly make Ron Jeremy look like a toddler. If you're crippled, you will now walk. if you have a dead loved one, they will now be resurrected."
Amazon isn't the first place you'd look for satire on the 2012 presidential election, but that didn't stop some customers from using reviews of an Avery three-ring binder to sound off on Mitt Romney's "binders full of women" faux pas.
"While this is a lovely, multi-purpose binder, IT DOES NOT COME WITH WOMEN. Presumably one is expected to find women on one's own, or contact women's groups who are supposedly eager to help stock your empty binder with women."
SENIOR WOMAN WITH ASTHMA WALL DECAL
Did you think no one would ever spend $27 on a vinyl decal depicting a woman using an inhaler? Think again.
"My husband and I have been arguing about what to fill the large wall on the stairs with for months. He wanted a mirror, I wanted a large image of an old woman using an inhaler."
INFANT CIRCUMCISION TRAINER
The gag reviews for this singularly creepy product are about what you'd expect. The only thing creepier is this one-word review -- the only one associated with a verified purchase.
NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP
This one speaks for itself.
"I was hit by a car and through the hit itself, the rain, the ambulance ride, and the hours in the hospital, my makeup stayed completely intact the entire time. When I was discharged from the hospital I had to take off my makeup, and none of it had moved. If this setting spray can survive being hit by a car, then that's all the proof I need, and I'll definitely be buying it again."
SATECHI PHONE MOUNT
There's a pattern here of consumer products surviving life-threatening incidents.
"Several weeks ago an 18-inch piece of steel flew through my front windshield as I was driving on a major New York highway. The steel piece landed on the Satechi mount ... Had the mount not been in position, I probably would not be writing this review!"
JAPANESE SHOUTING VASE
The frazzled author of this review uses a Japanese jar meant to contain screams of stress to cope with the fury that results from having useless coworkers.
"This sits on my desk in my office and is used daily. I lined it with toilet paper to assist in the silencing properties. I deal with several people who I can describe with several words, but the best one to summarize their being is: flat. No undulation, angle, depth, meaning, competence or purpose. Yet they have a job."
This is one of a series of unsettling reviews of tools such as a padlock, knives, and tactical gear that turned out to be posted from the account of Todd Kohlhepp, a convicted serial killer.
"Keep in car for when you have to hide the bodies and you left the full size shovel at home. ... does not come with a midget, which would have been nice."
PLAYMOBIL SECURITY CHECKPOINT
After Playmobil unveiled a playset depicting an airport security checkpoint, reviewers rushed to critique the toy and the TSA before it was discontinued. There's this example on racial profiling, and one review has two-thirds of the words blocked out as if by censorship.
"My son and I played with it a few times, but I didn't think he really understood how to work it. So I substituted the dad with my old Muhammad Ali action figure and instantly he took 20 extra minutes to get through."
Some reviews, such as this one, for a single pack of Seventh Generation brand baby wipes don't make sense no matter how many times you read them.
"This wet paper towel tastes very smelly and has a stomach-turning feeling. It won't buy back."
WENGER GIANT KNIFE
This $10,000, 87-implement Swiss Army-style knife has spawned hundreds of Amazon reviews almost as absurd as the product itself.
"This would be a great product, but was dismayed to find it has no banana slicer -- that's a deal breaker. Returning today."