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Remembering Ron Popeil, The Man Behind Veg-O-Matic And Many As-Seen-On-TV Gadgets

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

(Imitating Ron Popeil) Have you ever wondered who to thank for the Showtime Rotisserie - set it and forget it - the Chop-O-Matic, Veg-O-Matic and the electric food dehydrator - but wait, there's more - Mr. Microphone, the inside-the-egg scrambler, hair-in-a-can spray, the smokeless ashtray and Popeil's pocket fisherman?

Ron Popeil, who died this week at the age of 86 - he founded the Ronco company in 1964. It created and marketed products, gadgets some might call them, on late-night TV ads that were often mocked but were highly effective - like our credits for BJ Leiderman, who writes our theme music.

Ron Popeil got his start at age 16, selling products his father's factory produced on Chicago's Maxwell Street. By his 20s, he was selling his own products on TV - reportedly sold more than a billion dollars' worth of gadgets, several of which are now in the Smithsonian, that promise to make some everyday tasks a little easier. The most famous phrase of his sales pitch seemed to echo some of the optimism of America - but wait, there's more.

(SOUNDBITE OF BRASS KNUCKLE BRASS BAND'S "THE PENGUIN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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