8 Fictional Products We Wish We Could Buy

Dunder Mifflin Paper

 

NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Back in September, we looked at 10 products that have made the leap from Hollywood’s imagination to the real world. Often produced as marketing tie-ins, everything from True Blood’s titular drink to South Park’s Cheesy Poofs have been available for purchase in real life. And recently the NBC Universal store began selling branded copy paper ostensibly created by Dunder Mifflin, the paper company from the network’s hit show, The Office. 

While it thrills us to see products break the fourth wall in this way, it also saddens us that many other fictional products from TV and film remain a Tinseltown dream. Here are a few that we would pay just about anything to see on store shelves.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

The idea of a having all the knowledge in the universe in one book was a mind-blowing concept when it was introduced in the late 1970s. But now we have the Internet – including that vast repository of information, Wikipedia – and anyone with a smartphone and a data connection can access it wherever they are. In fact, the idea of having to carry an actual book seems antiquated.

But The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy contains real, practicable knowledge for a galactic traveler, and it’s presented with a personality that can’t be found in a group-edited article. Take its entry on alcohol, for instance. The Guide’s main competitor, the Encyclopedia Galactica, describes alcohol as “a colourless volatile liquid formed by the fermentation of sugars,” and the Wikipedia entry on alcohol manages to be even drier. By contrast, the Guide tells you that the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster (another fictional product we wish were real) is the best alcoholic beverage in existence, then goes on to tell you where you can find a really good one and how to make one yourself. Now that’s information you can really use.

The Guide also has the advantage of presenting information in proportion to its importance. While Wikipedia is cursed with long, rambling articles on video games and obscure cartoon shows, the Guide knows when to be brief. The entry for planet Earth, an inconsequential planet in galactic terms, simply reads: “Mostly harmless.”


Hoverboard


Marty McFly’s Hoverboard (Back to the Future Part II)

In September Nike took one of the more iconic features of Back to the Future and brought it into the real world. The Nike Mag, the self-lacing sneakers that Marty McFly discovers in the futuristic world of Back to the Future Part II, were auctioned off as a limited run to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation. But the coolest product from that film remains a dream.

You may recall that the iconic pink hoverboard that Marty rides in Parts II and III of the trilogy was actually a hover scooter that Marty stole from a little girl and modified while being chased by Biff Tannen’s grandson, Griff. You may also recall that the board subsequently proves unable to hover along the surface of the water, unlike Griff’s souped-up ride. Still, we think most people would gladly settle for the pink scooter if it arrived in stores.

Alas, we’re not there yet. MythBusters tried and failed with a surfboard attached to a leaf blower, and a similar invention by a French artist only hovers if you don’t put any weight on it. With 2015 only three years away, we’re beginning to wonder if it’s ever going to happen.

The EyePhone (Futurama)

In the Futurama episode “Attack of the Killer App,” the EyePhone is advertised as allowing users to “watch, listen, ignore your friends, stalk your ex, download porno on a crowded bus, even check your email while getting hit by a train.”

So far, that sounds exactly like the target of the show’s satire, Apple’s iPhone. But what sets the EyePhone apart from the competition is how you use it: The phone is embedded – painfully – behind your eye, allowing you to project images before your eyes and control it with your mind. It even comes with the “Twitcher” app, a parody of Twitter that allows you to instantly post every last thought you have and video you shoot.

Like the real iPhone, it has its flaws: The battery life is poor, the reception is spotty and the phone is secretly used to mind-control the phone’s users.

Still, it’s completely hands-free! Shut up and take our money.


Wafflebot


Wafflebot (A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas)

Harold and Kumar may get top billing, but as far we’re concerned this little robot was the breakout star of the franchise’s third film. The hot toy of the holiday season, Wafflebot was, as you might have guessed, a robot that made you waffles. Just pour the batter into its head and the robot will make you a waffle and present it on a platter, and a retractable spout will cover it in warm maple syrup.

That alone would make it a must-have item. But after Harold and Kumar receive a Wafflebot from Neil Patrick Harris, it proves to have a surprising amount of personality. The robot forms an emotional bond to Kumar, constantly expresses its hatred for pancakes and even saves their lives at one point.

We think Kumar said it best: “I love you, Wafflebot.”

The Bluth Family’s Cornballer (Arrested Development)

Even in the fictional world of Arrested Development, the Cornballer is a rare item – after a failed attempt by George Bluth Sr. to market it in both the U.S. and Mexico, it appears that the Bluth family owns one of the few models around. And there’s a good reason for that: The outer surface of the deep-fryer gets scorching hot while in use, giving horrific burns to anyone foolish enough to touch it. As such, it’s illegal to sell anywhere.

Still, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to deep-fry our own cornballs whenever we were in the mood, so we’d snatch this up if it appeared on the shelves at Crate & Barrel. Just make sure you don’t touch it. 

Buzz Beer (The Drew Carey Show)

One of the greatest brainstorms from the criminally underrated Drew Carey Show was Buzz Beer, a concoction of coffee and beer that Drew creates in a desperate bid to pull himself out of his financial difficulties. It boasted the caffeine of a cup of coffee and the alcohol of a bottle of booze, and was marketed under the slogan “Stay up and get drunk all over again.”

Sound familiar? Anheuser-Busch briefly flirted with caffeinated beer when it released Bud Extra, which contained guarana and caffeine, until the brewer shut it down over complaints that it looked too much like an energy drink. And last year there was the notorious Four Loko, a highly caffeinated and highly alcoholic malt liquor product made by Phusion Projects that tasted like melted jolly ranchers. Phusion Projects, too, was forced to remove the caffeine from Four Loko after coming under assault by the Food and Drug Administration.

So a real-life Buzz Beer wouldn’t exactly find a friendly regulatory climate. But if a microbrewery in Cleveland started making this, we’d be first in line to grab a six-pack.
The ZF-1


The ZF-1 (The Fifth Element)

One of the most memorable sci-fi weapons since the light saber, the ZF-1 was the Swiss Army knife of guns. The film’s villain, Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg, rattles off its various features like Steve Jobs announcing the newest iPhone: rocket launcher, flamethrower, net launcher and an “ice cube” freeze feature. And it breaks down into four parts, all undetectable by X-ray.

The shipment of guns that Zorg sells to a group of alien goons also includes a small red button on the underside of the weapon, which – spoiler alert – blows up the would-be clients.

Second Amendment or not, we imagine that the ZF-1 would likely run afoul of at least a few gun laws. But we’re sure it would be a coveted collector’s item among gun enthusiasts.

The Computerized Closet (Clueless)

If there’s one downside to being a spoiled rich girl with a massive closet full of clothes, it’s that it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the clothing options in the morning. The solution: a built-in computer that displays all of your skirts, shirts and jackets.

When Clueless lead character Cher Horowitz wants to get dressed in the morning, she can scroll through her options on the screen, and the computer automatically determines whether her chosen top and bottom match or clash. The clothes are even displayed on a digital representation of Cher so she can see how she’ll look in the outfit. Once she’s settled on an outfit, the chosen clothes are automatically presented to her.

It seems that this technology shouldn’t be too hard to execute: touchscreens are ubiquitous, and the 3-D mapping technology used by the Xbox Kinect would make it easy to scan in your various clothes for such an interface.

Matt Brownell is a staff reporter for MainStreet. You can reach him by email at matthew.brownell@thestreet.com, or follow him on Twitter @Brownellorama.

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