What Really Happened To Those Classic Cooking Infomercials?

It's 3 a.m., sometime in the early 2000s. You can't sleep and you've decided to whittle away the last few hours of the night by flicking through the channels on your TV. There's mostly nothing on, save for the same old reruns you've seen dozens of times before and infomercials full of over-the-top actors and exaggerated scenarios. You see a commercial for Betty Crocker's All-in-One Bake Set, followed by a commercial for The Original Chocolate Factory. All of these commercials — advertising everything from cake pans to pancake makers — are almost overwhelming. As you sit there on the couch, half-asleep, you wonder: Just who are these products made for? Does anyone really buy these things to begin with?

The late '90s and early 2000's were the golden era of the informercial. Huffington Post explains that this was a time when the Internet was still in its infancy, before online shopping and YouTube ads took center stage. Infomercials touting products that promised to solve all of your problems (be it in the kitchen, the bathroom, or simple housework) are looked on today with nostalgia by those who grew up viewing them. After all, these products are a look-back into a world that seems so far away to older readers — and one that's incredibly different to younger Americans. 

But what exactly are some of these famous cooking gadgets of the era? Who made them? Why do we remember them so vividly?

There is value in nostalgia

Ethan Tyrrell of Cracked poises an interesting question: why do we remember those cooking commercials, despite probably never having purchased one? So many Reddit users recall the wonders of seeing a Betty Crocker Bake 'N Fill commercial even years later, and there's more than a few TikToks out there demonstrating how to use this cake-making set from 2004. Why do we have such a powerful fascination with these infomercials, so much so that Delish even guides readers through some of these "mesmerizing" sales pitches? These are just cake pans, double-broilers, roasters, and food dehydrators that one could find in any Walmart near them. What makes these particular commercials so powerful then?

The answer, as we have noted before, is nostalgia. But it's not nostalgia for a cake pan from 2004 sold by a baking company as it is for the proverbial "good old days." For Tyrrell, it's not so much that he was nostalgic over a cake pan, but rather he associated seeing that Betty Crocker commercial while watching television with his grandfather. Those baking commercials were reflective of a certain time period. People remember the commercials because they are from a time they consider to have been "better" than the present. As such, we associate those informercials with positive feelings.

While some of these inventions remain relics of the past, Betty Crocker is no stranger to using nostalgia as a marketing tool, such as combining a '90s childhood snack with its classic pancake mix.