New (old) products for hard times

Oatmeal is hot. Well — hotter. Ever since Starbucks "introduced" it just a few months back, oatmeal has become the chain's top breakfast item. It seems only a matter of time before other companies jump on the old-fashioned, down-home, frugal-yet-festive bandwagon.

OK, so it's not the world's catchiest bandwagon. Still, I'm predicting a rash of so-old-it's-new-again innovations, including:

  • The Samsonite Stick Tote: Maybe you thought that once the luggage industry finally came up with a rolling suitcase that didn't keel over, its work was done. But that was before Samsonite unveiled its latest luggage triumph: the bag on a stick. Easily carried over the shoulder, the Stick Tote makes travel a breeze — by plane, foot or boxcar. The simple tie-up bag unfolds into a handy workman's shirt — a must for any "road warrior." The pocket is just right for any digital or corn cob-based device. And the sturdy, all-wood stick can be used as a walking aid, weapon or potato baking spear. The price is right, too: one chunk of ham.
  • The Ford Model U: If you liked the Model T, you'll love the Model U — as in "U-turn" for the troubled Motown mainstay. Who needs a bailout when you've got this beaut coming down the line? The Model U boasts the first running boards our country has seen in 70 years — perfect for piling on carpoolers (provided they pitch in for gas). Its crank-start engine allows you to save on spark plugs while building muscles. And as a special promotion, Ford is launching its most ambitious sweepstakes ever: "Win an Auto Dealership!"

Second prize? Two auto dealerships.

  • Carillon Importers present Absolut Hooch: Distilled from mash, hops, hash, mops, granny's secret recipe and unsold Miller Lite, Hooch is the hippest drink among the coveted 21-85 unemployed-except-for-part-time-work-at-Del-Taco demographic. But don't be fooled by Hooch's $3.93 price tag. This is the drink everyone wants. Or needs, anyway. Relax, and enjoy a carton today!
  • The pPhone: Apple has done it again. After months of buzz, Steve Jobs gathered the world's leading tech journalists and gizmo groupies to unveil his game-changing "pPhone." "Enough with the iPhone!" Jobs announced to deafening cheers. "Enough with cell phones, period! You have to charge them; you have to remember to take them with you in the morning, which is, like, impossible; and you have to pay that huge monthly fee. My bad. But now, introducing the revolutionary, pay-as-you-go, cash-based pPhone!" (More cheers.) "Convenient pPhones will be everywhere, from street corners to gas stations, enclosed in our patented pBooths," said Jobs, stepping into a prototype and closing the door. "No more traffic noise to disturb your conversation," he said from inside as the crowd strained to hear. "And get this: It only costs a quarter!" Uncertain as to when to applaud, some attendees rose uneasily for an ovation, while others who could lip-read report that Jobs added he will be selling plastic Nano-sized "pPhone change purses" in 10 stylish colors, just $399 each.

They will be $199 in January.

Dasani Bottled Water Bottle: Tired of lugging home heavy water bottles? The new, conveniently empty Dasani bottle can be filled from any standard tap at home. And remember: If you're heading in to your shift at Del Taco, the bottle also works with Absolut Hooch.

Lenore Skenazy is a columnist at Advertising Age. To find out more about Lenore Skenazy ( visit Creators Syndicate at

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