10 Strange Things in the Smithsonian's Collection

Veg-O-Matic II
The man himself, Ron Popeil. Actor Dan Aykroyd even spoofed him on "Saturday Night Live" in 1976.
The man himself, Ron Popeil. Actor Dan Aykroyd even spoofed him on "Saturday Night Live" in 1976.
Mike Guastella/WireImage/Getty Images

Housed among the more serious items in the Smithsonian's collection are many lighthearted tokens of American history. Take the Veg-O-Matic II, for example, a product of Popeil Brothers Inc. The handy kitchen aid (and similar O-Matic devices) were invented by Samuel J. Popeil, but it was his son Ron who really made them famous. His television marketing campaign with the "But wait! There's more!" sales pitch gained him pop icon status, and the products sold like hotcakes.

The Veg-O-Matic II made its way into the Smithsonian in 1986, when the Popeil family donated one for the collection. The Popeils also sent along a recording of the accompanying commercial. And that's the end of this list ... "But wait! There's more!" Check out the links below.

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Great Links


  • "A Clockwork Miracle." Radiolab. June 14, 2011. (Nov. 15, 2011) http://www.radiolab.org/blogs/radiolab-blog/2011/jun/14/clockwork-miracle/
  • "But Wait! There's More!" NPR. June 19, 2002. (Nov. 15, 2011) http://www.npr.org/programs/morning/features/2002/june/ronco/
  • "Clockwork Prayer: A Sixteenth-Century Monk." Blackbird. Spring 2002. (Nov. 15, 2011) http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/v1n1/nonfiction/king_e/prayer_introduction.htm
  • Davidson, Lee. "Smithsonian pays $100,000 for Sunstone from Nauvoo Temple." Church News. Dec. 2, 1989. (Nov. 15, 2011) http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/18896/Smithsonian-pays-100000-for-Sunstone-from-Nauvoo-Temple.html
  • Dowd, Maureen. "Cleaning the Nation's Attic." Time. Feb. 8, 1982. (Feb. 1, 2010) http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,953316,00.html
  • Dunlap, David. "But Wait! You Mean There's More?" The New York Times. (Nov. 15, 2011) http://www.nytimes.com/1999/11/11/garden/but-wait-you-mean-there-s-more.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm
  • Gambino, Megan. "Endangered Site: Historic Route 66, U.S.A." Smithsonian Magazine. March 2009. (Feb. 1, 2010) http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/Endangered-Cultural-Treasures-Historic-Route-66-USA.html
  • Glenn, William. "Sewell's Pump." Eli Whitney Museum and Workshop. (Feb. 1, 2010) http://www.eliwhitney.org/new/museum/-gilbert-project/-man/a-c-gilbert-scientific-toymaker-essays-arts-and-sciences-october-3
  • "History of Route 66." National Historic Route 66 Federation. (Feb. 1, 2010) http://www.nationalroute66.org/66hstry.html
  • Indiana Jones Official Web site. (Nov. 15, 2011) http://www.indianajones.com/site/index.html
  • Keane, Maribeth and Ben Marks. "Tales from America's Attic: An Interview with Smithsonian Entertainment History Curator Dwight Blocker Bowers." Collectors Weekly. Dec. 15, 2009. (Feb. 1, 2010) http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/tales-from-america%E2%80%99s-attic-an-interview-with-smithsonian-entertainment-history-curator-dwight-blocker-bowers/
  • "Legendary Route 66." Legends of America. (Feb. 1, 2010) http://www.legendsofamerica.com/66-Timeline.html
  • McVicker, Steve. "Bursting the Bubble." Houston Press. April 10, 1997. (Feb. 1, 2010) http://www.houstonpress.com/1997-04-10/news/bursting-the-bubble/full
  • "Most Intriguing Objects." Smithsonian Institute Press. 2001. (Feb. 1, 2010) http://www.smithsonianlegacies.si.edu/intriguing.cfm
  • "Nauvoo Temple." The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (Nov. 15, 2011) http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/originalnauvoo/
  • Py-Lieberman, Beth. "Lincoln's Pocket Watch Reveals Long-Hidden Message. Smithsonian Magazine. March 11, 2009. (Feb. 2, 2010) http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/Lincolns-Pocket-Watch-Reveals-Long-Hidden-Message.html
  • "Ron Popeil." Biography.com. http://www.biography.com/people/ron-popeil-177863
  • Smith, Jeffrey. "Smithsonian Inventory Turns up Lots of Stuff." Science. July 29, 1983. (Feb. 2, 2010)
  • Sterner, C. Douglas. "Cher Ami." Home of Heroes. (Feb. 1, 2010) http://www.homeofheroes.com/wings/part1/3b_cherami.html
  • "The Boy in the Bubble." PBS. March 6, 2006. (Feb. 2, 2010) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/bubble/index.html
  • The Smithsonian Institution's Web sites. (Feb. 1, 2010) http://www.si.edu/
  • The Smithsonian Institution's HistoryWired Web site. (Feb. 1, 2010) http://historywired.si.edu/


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