My husband and I watch a lot of late-night television, mostly CNN and the Comedy Channel. (It's good to have comedic relief after hearing the news!) Of all the strange commercials on during that time slot, our favorite is for Sham Wow! super-absorbent towels. “Vince” the Sham Wow! shaman/salesman ropes you in, works the yellow Sham Wow! towels quickly and effortlessly through cola spills, wet sweaters, and a pie pan full of water to show you how the synthetic chamois sucks up liquids like a vacuum. Note that Sham Wow! is a great play on the word chamois (pronounced ‘shammee”) since Sham Wow! is a sham/fake of real chamois, a leather made from super soft sheep and lamb skin.
With slightly spiky hair and a crazed look in his eyes, Vince resembles Beavis of Beavis and Butt-Head. His rapid-fire sentences mostly end with exclamations. For example:
- Sham Wow! holds up to 20 times its weight in liquid!
- These are made in Germany! You know the Germans always make good stuff!
- Olympic divers -- they use it as a towel!
- These sell themselves!
- Call now! Call within the next 20 minutes! We can’t do this all day!
- Sham Wow! You'll be saying "Wow!" every time!
Vince embodies the quintessential American huckster/salesman – the kind you’d find at a county fair hawking products that you never thought you’d want or need but suddenly find yourself desirous of. After watching the infomercial about 20 times, what intrigued me about Vince’s demonstration was when he rolled up the wet sweater in a Sham Wow! towel to wick away moisture. Could it do that to all the lettuce an herbs that I wash for Vietnamese food? How would it compare to the regular salad spinner that I use?
One New Year’s Day, we watched the Sham Wow! low-budget infomercial on YouTube and we nearly ordered it, but chickened out once we looked up the shipping and handling -- $7.95 on a $19.95 set of 4 big and 4 mini Sham Wow! towels. “Not available in stores. Beware of imitators,” the voiceover reminded us. That’s nearly $30 for the 8 towels and seemed to cost a little too much.
But yesterday, Rory and I walked into a Bed, Bath and Beyond and what was the first thing we saw by the door? An “As Seen on TV” display of goodies including boxes and boxes of Sham Wow! towels for $19.95. No shipping and handling here, and we had a 20% discount coupon that was just about to expire on Monday. We drove home, fetched the coupon and sped back to the store to purchase a box of Sham Wow! towels for $16. How’s that for recession savings?
At home, I tested Vince’s claim of saving us loads of money on non-reusable paper towels and time. Sham Wow! towels are made of rayon and they’re oddly dry feeling. They do suck up water like there’s no tomorrow. I filled a baking sheet half-full with water and put a large Sham Wow! towel in there and all the water got absorbed. I even wrung it out like Vince did on TV. The towel is easy to wring out but beware – do not hang it over a counter to dry as I did. The water drips off the towel. Left that way over night, we woke up to a puddle of water in the kitchen which we effortlessly wiped up with the Sham Wow!.
Just now, I washed some lettuce for bun rice noodle salad bowl with leftover roast chicken. To test my theory – can lettuce be dried like the sweater in the infomercial? – I put the leaves between two mini Sham Wow! towels, patted the towels and then rolled them up like a jelly roll for the yule log I made for the holidays.
The towels removed about 2/3 of the water but I realized that the crinkly aspect of the lettuce leaves was not easy for Sham Wow! to tackle. The towel fibers just can’t reach that moisture. Flicking the leaves into a dry bowl, I found that there was still water hidden in the crevices. Same thing for fresh herbs, in this case, sprigs of mint and kinh gioi Vietnamese balm from my garden that had survived our recent light frosts.
I wrapped the head of lettuce up in the towel and stuck it in the fridge. I usually do this with a paper towel to prevent the leaves from getting funky and spoiling. In that scenario, Sham Wow! does seem to work in a passive manner.
So the upshot? I am wowed by Sham Wow! as it does do what it claims – so long as the surface is relatively smooth, like a counter, car, dish, or cutting board. But for drying lettuce and herbs? If I have a few leaves or sprigs, a mini Sham Wow! would be okay. If a lot of fresh lettuce and herbs are to be dried, a salad spinner is much better.
If you've used Sham Wow!, do share your good, bad and ugly experiences!