Hucksters in their glory at the fair |

Hucksters in their glory at the fair

Dan BurkhartDon Ferguson of Newcastle demonstrates cookware at the Nevada County Fair Sunday.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Though many passed through the gates of the Nevada County Fairgrounds Sunday for a final fling on roller coasters, a mechanical bull or the ring toss, a few adventurous types packed a large building where late-night infomercials sprang to life.

There was plenty of slicing and dicing, cooking and cleaning inside the main commercial building, where hucksters took hyperbole to the extreme in hawking the next great non-stick pan, rain gutter or cure for the common cold.

You had to both laugh with and admire John Anderson, the fast-talking pitchman for the Kitchen Plus 2000, which seemed to be the ultimate salsa maker.

In addition to chopping and dicing tomatoes, peppers and onions, Anderson wielded the three-pronged blade to julienne a freshly peeled potato.

The guy was part Fuller Brush salesman, part Cedric the Entertainer as he quipped, letting the toothpick-thin strands fall through his fingers: “You can supersize your french fries for a nickel. Good-bye McDonalds, wh

Judging by sales of their fries, Mickey D’s founder Ray Kroc probably didn’t even bat an eyelash in his grave.

Instantly, Anderson, who claims to use the $29.95 contraption everywhere, diced an onion in the plastic bowl.

“Since the beginning of time, people have been wondering how to slice onions,” he said, his voice as smooth as melted butter.

“Many a tear has been shed over these.”

You could practically cue the rim shot.

But the crowed raved at “The Ultimate Kitchen Machine” once they tasted Anderson’s salsa, prepared with garlic, cilantro, seasoned salt, the juice of one lime, Roma tomatoes, onions and half a jalapeno pepper.

“I bought five of these two years ago and gave them all to my kids,” said Alice Walker of Grass Valley as she munched on tortilla chips topped with fresh salsa. “I think it’s worth every penny. I don’t know how often my kids use it.”

Anderson said having people taste the fruits of his labor sells the product, not his spiel.

“I turn people loose with this. I encourage them to try it out. Never be afraid to ask a demonstrator how things work.”

A few tables down, Gaelle Ferguson of Newcastle shared horror stories of cooking with cast-iron and aluminum pots, wringing a sponge of dirty, metallic gray water into a measuring cup.

“If you have aluminum pots or pans, throw them away,” she said, holding up a cup of the murky, grimy water scraped from the bottom of a pan to the horrified crowd.

“Why risk the health of your family or loved ones?”

The solution? “The Original Waterless Cookware,” an assortment of pots, pans and griddles wrapped in surgical stainless steel. “We don’t want to get our iron from eating our pots and pans,” she warned the masses.

For the next 30 minutes, Ferguson described each cooking utensil, extolling durability and lifetime warranties. When she announced the products were made in America, the people clapped as she held up a sign that read “Applause.”

Lennie Murphy and her husband, Darrell, of Grass Valley purchased the cookware over 25 years ago. “I use them every day,” Lennie Murphy proclaimed. “You get better taste.”

The price? As little as $1,195 for three pots, two skillets and a rice cooker.

Those going full-bore and adding a griddle, bake and roast pan, cookie sheet, 12-quart dutch oven and other goodies including a crock pot will spend $3,295. You can take up to a year to pay them off.

As the crowd walked away, they all passed a sign that read “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

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