Oprah's Idea of the “Next Big Idea”
The Oprah Winfrey Show recently teamed up with QVC to search for the "Next Big Idea." From a field of 6000 applicants, eight finalists were selected to appear on Oprah's May 3, 2007 show. I was dumbfounded by what I saw. All eight finalists were women (perhaps not too surprising, considering Oprah's thinly-veiled misandry), whose ideas included a fold-down baking pan, a vegetable peeler, a food item (a stuffed biscuit), a clip for hanging Christmas cards on wreaths, a plastic ball to assist in floral arrangements, decorative drapes for shutters (can you say, "just another craft project"?), a radio-controlled doodling toy, and an eye shadow applicator.
Ahem. Calling most of these things "inventions" isn't just a stretch, it is the "Next Big Stretch." Several of the ideas have been around for years (almost a century in one case), and the remainder are anything but the kind of great ideas you might expect from a pool supposedly representing the best ideas from 6000 entrants. Stick a knife into a biscuit and stuff some food inside—is that really an invention? I did that when I was a hungry kid looking for a snack at a time when I was "slow," according to my sixth-grade teacher. (This page explains how I went from dunce to doctor and later graduated in the top 1% of my class in medical school.)
The winning idea was the fold-down baking pan, invented by a woman supposedly desperate to find a better way to remove food from a pan. Sheesh, hasn't she heard of a frigging spatula, for heaven's sake? Instead, she concocted a maze of sheet metal that looked like it was designed by the same person who styled World War II-era ammunition containers. Her pan looked to be impossible to thoroughly clean without scrubbing for hours with various brushes to reach into its nooks and crannies. I love baking, and I love most baking gadgets if they serve a purpose and aren't more of a nuisance than they are worth, but I wouldn't use her fold-down baking pan if someone gave it to me. And that, my friends, was judged the best of the 6000 ideas. “The Next Big Idea”? No, the “Next Big Disappointment.”