Lucy Zee remembers the iconic infomercial to end all infomercials.
The first time I saw the Magic Bullet advert, I didn’t realise I was watching an infomercial until it was too late. It looked like a cooking show, but also a sitcom, but also a soap opera. Who were these people, what were they doing and how did they know each other? Can you really make all these recipes from one small appliance? Do they even taste good? Who is the haggard old lady shuffling around with a cigarette dangling from her lips?
After several extensive viewings, I have studied the subtext of the infomercial intensively and I have discovered these facts:
- This is Mick and Mimi’s home.
- The guests are hungover.
- There was a barbeque last night.
- The haggard old lady shuffling around with a cigarette dangling from her lips is Hazel, their neighbour. She hates chopping garlic, STINKY NASTY GARLIC.
- And these two women are not the same people:
I came for Mick’s theatrics, but I stayed for the Magic Bullet recipes. Oh did they have recipes! Omelettes! Salsa! Smoothies! Alfredo! Two types of muffin! And Gourmet Chicken salad! Every morning in 2003, while I got ready for school I would watch this mouthwatering infomercial and I thought very seriously about what recipes I would try out when I could finally get my hands on a Magic Bullet.
Here are a few of the most memorable recipes in the 28 minute infomercial.
#1 OMELETTE IN A COLD PAN
This is the first hot meal that hostess Mimi makes for her guests, a so-called “light and fluffy” omelette with all the trimmings. That includes tomatoes, pre-chopped processed cheese and pre-chopped cubes of spam. To the viewer’s shock, Mimi pours the egg mixture straight into a stone cold pan. No surprises, it comes out like a flaccid rubber pancake. Gross Mimi, gross.
Rating: 1 out of 5 Hazels#2 MICROWAVE QUESADILLAS
Mimi blends up some already chopped up cheese, already chopped up chicken and already chopped up jalapeno and puts them in her Magic Bullet, to get chopped up. She spreads it on a tortilla, slaps another on top and microwaves it. She returns it to the table and with a blade chops it into quarters.
I can’t decide what is worse: a soggy microwaved quesadilla or the fact that they had already gone to the effort of using knives to chop things up to get them to fit into the machine that will chop them up a little bit more.
Rating: 2 out of 5 Hazels#3 CHOCOLATE “MOUSSE”
Cream + chocolate sauce + 6 seconds = chocolate mousse. I feel like this is genuinely a good recipe and I also feel like this was reason the Magic Bullet was invented. There’s not much more to say except…
Rating: 5 out of 5 Hazels, obviously
#4 BROCCOLI JUICE
About halfway through, you find out that there’s a juicer attachment that comes with the 17 piece set if you call NOW. Mick and Mimi proceed to make Berman – the most hungover, the most balding and the most likely to have a drinking problem – a Frankenstein’s monster of a drink.
They start juicing from a platter of pre-chopped watermelon, pineapple, beetroot, spinach and broccoli – yes BROCCOLI – into the Magic Bullet juicer attachment. “Yuck. I hate broccoli!” exclaims Berman. Mick and Mimi side-eye him silently and look back at their guests, who share knowing looks of disdain. Yeah, Berman is THAT GUY.
Berman feels the tension in the room and realises he needs to kiss ass before everyone remembers what a drunk asshole he was last night, so he takes the juice and pretends it’s delicious. It’s okay Berman, we’ve all been there and we’ll be honest for you.
Rating: 1 out of 5 Hazels. #5 GOURMET CHICKEN SALAD
As a young teen with zero taste or knowledge of how the real world works, this recipe baffled me. It was bits of grilled chicken (from last night’s barbeque), apples, raisins and a “squeeze” of mayo, oh and don’t forget Mick’s favourite, a little bit of curry powder to “spice it up a bit”. After six seconds, you have “gourmet chicken salad” that you have to spread over your toast like pâté.
But what exactly makes it gourmet? And why is it called chicken salad if there are no vegetables in it?
My flatmate said he tried this recipe before and he’s adamant that it tastes great. I have to give him the benefit of the doubt but still to this day, I have my reservations. Also, I fucking hate raisins.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Hazel’s (according to flatmate)I’ve watched this infomercial so many times. Sometimes I watch it as a joke with my friends. Sometimes I come home drunk at 2am and Chromecast it to the TV while I eat my takeaway McDonald’s. Most often, I watch it for pure nostalgia. But I still don’t really have my answers.
Why are all these people eating breakfast together, the day after a barbeque party? Why didn’t they go home? What is Hazel’s story? Did she go to the party too? Why didn’t Mick and Mimi flinch when Hazel snuck up behind them?
I also want to know why they seem to think pulsing the Magic Bullet for “one, two, threeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee seconds” counts as three seconds, when in actual fact they’re leaving their finger on it to pulse for a further five seconds? Just because you’re drawing out the word “three”, it doesn’t actually change the physics of time.
It’s been well over 10 years now and Mick, Mimi, Hazel and the gang have moved onto bigger, better appliances. But even with all my concerns and questions, I still believe there has never been a more engaging, informative, beautifully choreographed advert than the 2003 Magic Bullet infomercial.
I will tell my children about this piece of cinema and my children’s children. It will live on through the generations, in this decade and in one, two, threeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee decades to come.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.