If you've ever sung into a Mr Microphone, used a portable smokeless ashtray, scrambled an egg inside its own shell, chopped onions with a chop-o-matic or if you ever just "set it and forget it", you know who Ron Popeil, the infomercial icon, is.
Ron was the prolific marketer and inventor behind most products you can recall “as seen on TV”, like the Showtime Rotisserie and Hair in a Can. He began his career by pitching his father's kitchen gadgets at the flea markets on Maxwell street in Chicago.
By the 1950s, he and his partner, Mel Korey, had discovered the reach of television and decided to try it. They produced the first minute long, black and white commercial for slightly over $500. The product? What is now known as the Ronco Chop-o-Matic, a gadget created by Popeil’s father, Samuel “S.J.” Popeil.
In 1964 he founded Ronco to brand and sell all of S.J. Popeil's inventions, as well as some of Ron's own. Under this company name they sold Mr. Microphone, the Popeil Pocket Fisherman, the Buttoneer, Popeil’s Electric Food Dehydrator, GLH-9 (Great Looking Hair Formula #9) Hair in a Can Spray, the Rhinestone Stud Setter, the Cap Snaffler, the Popeil Automatic Pasta Maker and the Ronco Electric Food Dehydrator among other things.
But wait, there’s more!
The prolific pitchman and seller of Veg-O-Matic, EZ-Store Rotisserie, and Beef Jerky Machine decided to take the company public in 2017, selling $30 million in stock as an initial offering. But he didn't sell it through a Wall Street firm or the stock exchange, instead, he offered the shares on his own website. $6 per share; 20 shares minimum, and true to his way of pitching "you'll get a 10% discount on your next Ronco purchase" with that stock investment.
Popeil died early Wednesday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center following a “severe medical emergency” on Tuesday., a spokesperson for the family to TMZ. He was surrounded by his family.
Ron Popeil will live on in many peoples memories for his catchphrases, “Now how much would you pay?”, and countless items cluttering up garage sales everywhere. As well as in popular culture where several comedians have parodied Ron's pitch. Eddie Murphy sold the “Popeil Galactic Prophylactic” while Dan Akroyd pitched the “Bass-O-Matic”. If you've reached popular culture with your ads, you've made it.