Ron Popeil literally invented the concept of selling things on television. He paved the way for companies like HSN, QVC and even the show Shark Tank. I am proud that he has been one of my closest friends for over 20 years. The first two infomercials I hosted with him are among the top grossing DRTV spots in history.
A couple of years ago, we cut the initial infomercial for Ron’s “5 in 1 Fryer and Cooking System,” then called “Ron’s Olive Oil Fryer.” It was a fun but grueling day in the studio but we both felt it was some of our best work to date. However, working in front of dozens of operating deep fryers was a bit like working in a blast furnace. We both had to change our sweat-soaked clothes several times that day.
The “5 in 1 Fryer and Cooking System” took Ron over 10 years to develop. Initially, he conceived it primarily a fryer and especially a turkey fryer that, despite its tiny size, could fry a 15 pound turkey in 46 minutes. However, as he continued to use the machine in his own kitchen, he discovered that it could not only fry, but it could steam, boil, cook rice and bake with steam.
An inventor and entrepreneur like Ron never stops thinking. I often wonder how he sleeps at night. Ron realized that our original infomercial only scratched the surface of what his invention could do. He redubbed the unit “The 5 in 1 Fryer and Cooking System” and began to edit the old infomercial to reflect the unit’s versatility. Along with extensive new voiceovers, he shot several new video product segments and still photos in his own kitchen. Then, it was off to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and the video editing company Ron uses.
Ron went through several permutations of the spot, none of which he felt conveyed just how special the new machine was. Last week he called me and asked me to join him in Coeur d’Alene. Unfortunately, it’s not the easiest place in the world to get to. It’s a 2 plane hop from the Sacramento airport. After you fly to either Portland or Seattle on a jet, you are relegated to a prop job that looks like a reconnaissance plane from WWII. Once onboard, they brag that the plane was Canadian-made. Boasting that an airplane was made in Canada is like touting your salmon was raised in Newark, New Jersey.
Even in this rickety airplane, Coeur d’Alene is only a 40 minute flight from Seattle. Ron met me at the airport and, as it was now about 11 AM, we had lunch at Wendy’s. Ron is recognized wherever he goes. The staff at Wendy’s recognized him and I think he sold them a couple of 5 in 1 Fryers while we waited for our meal. Once we finished it was off to the editing suite.
We started editing around noon and worked straight through until 9 PM. We put together the first 6 ½ minutes of the new infomercial with Ron cutting several new voiceovers to accommodate the new program. We both agreed that it was a very powerful opening that really showed how many things the 5 in 1 could do. We knocked off and went to the Coeur d’Alene Inn where we were staying. We checked in at about 9:30 and had dinner. I think Ron stayed up developing his new “Mister Cold Fusion Reactor.” I went to my room and died.
We had breakfast the next morning at about 8 and were back at the editor’s facility by 9. We put the rest of the show together with Ron again cutting several dozen new voiceovers. While we had planned to finish by about 3 PM, we still had a lot of work to do. Quick calls were made, flights were changed to the next day and new hotel reservations were made. They got Ron back into the Coeur d’Alene Inn. They didn’t have any more rooms so I was booked into the Motel 6. But Tom Bodett did leave the light on for me. Unfortunately it was burned out.
Again we worked straight through until 8 that night. Ron and the editor were fine. I started hallucinating from lack of food at about 5 PM. But Mick Jagger and Ronald Reagan joined me and helped to set my mind straight.
We finished a little after 8 PM. The show was very powerful and conveyed how useful and easy-to-use the “5 in 1 Fryer and Cooking System” really is. Ron went back to the Inn and I made my way to the motel (actually a Holiday Inn Express). Reagan and Jagger stayed behind. Ron probably invented warp drive before he went to bed while I had dinner and collapsed.
Took a shared a cab to the airport. Ron got a direct flight back to L.A. I was booked again with the pride of the Canadian Air Force, routed through Portland this time on my way back to the Sacramento area. I did make it home, but my 64-year-old ass is still molded into the shape of the tiny airplane seat a full day later.
Ron is adding a few finishing touches to the infomercial, but we are both confident the new version really conveys just how special the “5 in 1 Fryer and Cooking System” really is. The new infomercial will be up on the website, http://5in1fryer.com in a few weeks. And while I don’t use this blog to sell anything, I will say I have used the machine for sometime, cooking everything from our Thanksgiving turkey to frying snacks for special events. It is one of his greatest inventions.
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