Odd Product Hall of Fame: The Flowbee

Most offerings of the type featured in the Odd Product Hall of Fame are obscure. Because they are so…well, odd, they are destined for ultimate failure or to appeal to a microscopically small niche market. But every now and then, a  product that is undeniably weird also manages to catch on with the public and have some staying power. Some prominent examples of this category are the Snuggie or the Chia Pet. Another prime example would be the latest inductee into the Odd Product Hall of Fame: the Flowbee.

To a person uninitiated to the Flowbee, the concept of combining hair clippers with a vacuum cleaner would probably seem like a non-starter. And that person would probably find nothing to allay their skepticism in this borderline-surreal official product instruction video:

Yet, despite the fact that on paper, the product should never have gone anywhere, Flowbees have been on the market since the late 1980s — over a quarter-century. Along the way, the “precision home haircutting system” has received some high-profile media attention, including this send-up in the hit movie “Wayne’s World”…

…and being demonstrated by syndicated talk show host Anderson Cooper:

In light of all that goofiness, it’s tempting to write off the Flowbee’s longevity to people buying them as gag gifts or just out of morbid impulse-buy curiosity. But with a list price of $149.95 on Amazon, it seems unlikely that consumers have been shelling out that kind of money on a lark or as a joke for more than 20 years. All sarcasm aside, somebody out there must be experiencing (or at least expecting) some legitimate benefits from this curious device.

And so we recognize the Flowbee not only as a new member of the Odd Product Hall of Fame, but also as an item on that rarest of lists: Things that make the Marketing Smart Aleck glad that he’s bald.

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