If you're a Steely Dan aficionado, "Black Friday" conjures up visions of a stock market crash: "When Black Friday comes/I'll stand down by the door/And catch the grey men when they dive from the fourteenth floor." If your sensibility runs more towards rapper Lil' Kim, her version of "Black Friday" is focused on dissing fellow hip hopper Nicki Minajs: "It'll be a murder scene/I'm turning Pink Friday to Friday the 13th." But if you're a retailer the term conjures up the sweet day when the red ink runs out and your year turns to profits.
But what to buy? Every year virtually every publication runs an article under general heading of "the best stuff to give." Usually it's themed to their audience, with Esquire offering up "The 25 Most Stylish Gifts under $100" while Bloomberg BusinessWeek has "The Executive Gift Guide 2011." In this space however, we have a more focused mandate: to find the things that make you roll your eyes as to how anyone could buy such a thing, while at the same time thinking "wait a minute! This would be perfect for..." In that spirit we offer the following list, with the explicit disclaimer that I covet none of the following.
New York Yankees ProToast Toaster: For the fan who just has to be reminded of his or her team before they even have their morning sip of coffee, there's the ProToast Toaster. Drop in two slices of bread, and out they come with the team's logo toasted in the center. Not to worry: as an officially licensed product of Major League Baseball, there is one available for every club, including one for Mets fans, which randomly burns the entire piece of bread.
Plush Sushi: Because nothing says fresh uncooked fish more than a stuffed representation of it. Turn your bed from a Teddy Bear hospital into your very own smiling, cuddly bento box. Available in tuna, shrimp, and wasabi and ginger versions. Sorry, but the salmon roe version is sold out.
Bacon Everything: It's true that 2008 was actually designated "The Year of Bacon" by several major food publications. But just as it takes time for the hits of Fashion Week to make their way to your local Target store, so too has it taken time for the all things smoked pork to trickle down to, well, all things. This year you can buy bacon candy canes, a sparkling bacon Christmas tree ornament, bacon frosting and bacon flavored popcorn. And my personal favorite, a tee shirt with the symbols for barium, cobalt and nitrogen printed along with their atomic properties. Of course, taken together, they spell "BaCoN."
Lil' Vampire Pacifier: Forget having a merely cute baby. How about having one with eternal life and taste for human blood? Nicely timed to coincide with the release of the newest "Twilight" offering comes this orthodontically correct sucker, one that sports luscious red lips and a full set of teeth including sharp canines. Now your offspring will have a reason to stay up all night and cry, though it's not for a bottle.
Butterfly in a Jar: An heir apparent to those whose only pet was a rock, this is exactly what it sounds like: a glass mason jar with a butterfly in it. But it requires no food or even air. The butterfly is electronic and is activated by sound. Tap on the glass and it flitters around just like the real thing. Fun to have on your desk, or use it to drive your cat wild. Just put it out of their reach, or it'll likely get knocked down, break and your kitty will wind up with a battery in her belly.
Chocomize Custom Chocolate Bars: Know someone who has a sweet tooth, but also some other serious food jones that a regular Snickers bar won't pacify? Then head over to Chcomize.com, and make a custom creation that will keep their blood sugar cooking. Start with your choice of chocolate, then add any of the more than 100 options, from beef jerky to gummy bears to curry powder. Or pick one of the favorite combinations, like The Zimmern, named for celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern: dark chocolate with mini pretzels, Pop Rocks, cayenne pepper and coffee beans.
Should none of those seem appropriate for your givees, there are plenty more: perhaps a radio controlled zombie, or a plush angry bird you can launch at people rather than pigs, or even a 1300 piece Lego model of a 1962 VW Bus. As for me, I said explicitly that I had no interest in any of the above. That being said, I confess I'm rethinking the chocolate.
Marc Wollin of Bedford needs nothing, yet will eat almost anything. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at http://www.glancingaskance.blogspot.com/.