6 Popular ‘Luxury’ Products That Are Based On An Absurd Lie

We all like to think of ourselves as savvy consumers. We aren’t suckered in by the claims of cartoon bears who say their toilet paper is the best, and we know Milwaukee’s Best is the greatest lie ever condensed into two words. But some marketing lies are so pervasive that even the most cautious of us gets suckered in …

#6. Hypoallergenic Is A Meaningless, Unregulated Term

Parents spend literally hundreds of money to protect their children from dangerous allergic reactions, because of child neglect laws and like, love, or whatever. Collectively, billions are spent annually on hypoallergenic laundry detergent, lotion, makeup, anti-allergens, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Sure, they may cost a few bucks more, but you can’t put a price on protection from nasty rashes or fits of acute death.

“Your baby deserves to shit into only the finest materials.”

But hypoallergenic claims are never investigated by the FDA, which means companies get to set their own definition. It can therefore mean anything from “hella not guaranteed to not cause a reaction” to “this product wouldn’t have allergens in it anyway, but we like money so let’s slap a fancy label on it.” So, how do companies ensure their products won’t cause you or your child to look like they tested the wrong food in Willy Wonka’s factory?

They often don’t. An examination of 187 hypoallergenic products found that 89 percent of them contained a chemical known to cause skin rashes, and 11 percent contained methylisothiazolinone, which was named the 2013 Contact Allergen of the Year by a dermatology society during the lamest award ceremony we could ever imagine.

Although everyone knows the Dermies have been rigged against methylisothiazolinone for years.

Why won’t the FDA reign in these histamine cowboys, you ask? Well, in the ’70s they had the totally reasonable desire to limit the use of “hypoallergenic” to products that were tested and “proven to reduce allergic reactions.” But manufacturers complained that testing would be too expensive, and apparently that excuse, despite being terrible, totally works. The FDA says that “the term means whatever a particular company wants it to mean” on its website, while all us silly consumers thought it meant one very specific and very crucial thing.

#5. Your Car’s Advertised Mpg Is Almost Definitely A Lie

Most people take the Environmental Protection Agency’s estimated miles-per-gallon number into careful consideration when buying a car. And while it’s true that the EPA established those mpg tests, they don’t actually have the time or money to test the fuel efficiency of hundreds of cars. They leave that up to the manufacturers. You can guess how that turns out.

Manufacturers take every opportunity to inflate a car’s advertised mpg. Most use a “certification test car,” which makes the car you drive home from the dealership look like a used Pinto, and the tests are conducted on a lab treadmill instead of your bullshit street with all the potholes. Other tricks include turning off all the extra features (you never use your air conditioning, right?), taping door cracks to prevent wind resistance, and disabling the alternator which, for those of you whose knowledge of cars primarily comes from Mario Kart, is the part of your car that recharges your battery and is thus, pretty important.

But hey, the difference in this Lincoln MKZ only works out to an estimated $302 of gas money a year.

All those little tricks are peachy-keen with the EPA, who rarely cracks down on even the most blatant lies. Given an inch, manufacturers have taken a mile that turns out to actually only be a half-mile, as the difference between advertised and actual mpg has grown from an average of 7 percent in 2001 to 23 percent in 2011.

Fuel-efficient hybrids aren’t immune to this chicanery either. Consumer Reports ran tests where they did the unthinkable — used public streets and ran the air conditioner. On average, hybrids fell 28 percent short of mpg “estimates,” because the real hybrid in the car world is the one between truth and fiction. We’re not saying buying a hybrid is a bad idea if you want to save the world and feel smug about it, but remember that when you look at the estimated mpg you should round down. Like, a lot. Then subtract some more. Then remember that it’s even less than that.

The Jetta Hybrid was another notable offender, but at least Volkswagens are otherwise reliable, honest vehicles.

#4. 1,000-Thread-Count Sheets Are Garbage

The common wisdom is that the higher a bedsheet’s thread count, the more comfortable it is. A 200-count sheet is akin to sleeping on a bed of spiky garbage, while a count of 1,000 is like being cradled to Buddha’s bosom on a cloud made of nirvana. But it’s impossible to fit 1,000 normal-sized bedsheet threads on a loom, so inferior threads are used — to the detriment of your wallet and comfort of your ass. Anything above 400 threads isn’t possible unless you use thinner, “lower-quality cotton” that some might refer to as “orphan grade.” These weaker strands are twisted together but counted individually, which is like saying you get 1,000 pebbles instead of 200 jewels.

According to the professional bullshit detectors at Consumer Reports, a 280-thread count is best for a good night’s sleep, with even a single thread beyond that wasted on your precious skin. But that doesn’t stop J.C. Penney from selling 1,200-thread-count sheets for 95% more than 300-count sheets from the same manufacturer to capitalize on consumers who live like blue collar workers but want to sleep like oil tycoons.

At least the 1,200-count sheets look nice and cozy for the one time you’ll ever have them folded up properly.

But what about sheets that use Egyptian cotton, the softest of all raw bedding materials? Is the inflated price justified then? Wrapping yourself up in Egyptian cotton is said to be like spooning the Sandman himself, but manufacturers slap the label on sheets that are massively overpriced blends with only a small percentage of the pure, uncut white stuff. So yeah, high-end sheet manufacturers are no better than your neighborhood drug dealer.

We all like to think of ourselves as savvy consumers. We aren’t suckered in by the claims of cartoon bears who say their toilet paper is the best, and we know Milwaukee’s Best is the greatest lie ever condensed into two words. But some marketing lies are so pervasive that even the most cautious of us gets suckered in …

#6. Hypoallergenic Is A Meaningless, Unregulated Term

Parents spend literally hundreds of money to protect their children from dangerous allergic reactions, because of child neglect laws and like, love, or whatever. Collectively, billions are spent annually on hypoallergenic laundry detergent, lotion, makeup, anti-allergens, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Sure, they may cost a few bucks more, but you can’t put a price on protection from nasty rashes or fits of acute death.

“Your baby deserves to shit into only the finest materials.”

But hypoallergenic claims are never investigated by the FDA, which means companies get to set their own definition. It can therefore mean anything from “hella not guaranteed to not cause a reaction” to “this product wouldn’t have allergens in it anyway, but we like money so let’s slap a fancy label on it.” So, how do companies ensure their products won’t cause you or your child to look like they tested the wrong food in Willy Wonka’s factory?

They often don’t. An examination of 187 hypoallergenic products found that 89 percent of them contained a chemical known to cause skin rashes, and 11 percent contained methylisothiazolinone, which was named the 2013 Contact Allergen of the Year by a dermatology society during the lamest award ceremony we could ever imagine.

Although everyone knows the Dermies have been rigged against methylisothiazolinone for years.

Why won’t the FDA reign in these histamine cowboys, you ask? Well, in the ’70s they had the totally reasonable desire to limit the use of “hypoallergenic” to products that were tested and “proven to reduce allergic reactions.” But manufacturers complained that testing would be too expensive, and apparently that excuse, despite being terrible, totally works. The FDA says that “the term means whatever a particular company wants it to mean” on its website, while all us silly consumers thought it meant one very specific and very crucial thing.

#5. Your Car’s Advertised Mpg Is Almost Definitely A Lie

Most people take the Environmental Protection Agency’s estimated miles-per-gallon number into careful consideration when buying a car. And while it’s true that the EPA established those mpg tests, they don’t actually have the time or money to test the fuel efficiency of hundreds of cars. They leave that up to the manufacturers. You can guess how that turns out.

Manufacturers take every opportunity to inflate a car’s advertised mpg. Most use a “certification test car,” which makes the car you drive home from the dealership look like a used Pinto, and the tests are conducted on a lab treadmill instead of your bullshit street with all the potholes. Other tricks include turning off all the extra features (you never use your air conditioning, right?), taping door cracks to prevent wind resistance, and disabling the alternator which, for those of you whose knowledge of cars primarily comes from Mario Kart, is the part of your car that recharges your battery and is thus, pretty important.

But hey, the difference in this Lincoln MKZ only works out to an estimated $302 of gas money a year.

All those little tricks are peachy-keen with the EPA, who rarely cracks down on even the most blatant lies. Given an inch, manufacturers have taken a mile that turns out to actually only be a half-mile, as the difference between advertised and actual mpg has grown from an average of 7 percent in 2001 to 23 percent in 2011.

Fuel-efficient hybrids aren’t immune to this chicanery either. Consumer Reports ran tests where they did the unthinkable — used public streets and ran the air conditioner. On average, hybrids fell 28 percent short of mpg “estimates,” because the real hybrid in the car world is the one between truth and fiction. We’re not saying buying a hybrid is a bad idea if you want to save the world and feel smug about it, but remember that when you look at the estimated mpg you should round down. Like, a lot. Then subtract some more. Then remember that it’s even less than that.

The Jetta Hybrid was another notable offender, but at least Volkswagens are otherwise reliable, honest vehicles.

#4. 1,000-Thread-Count Sheets Are Garbage

The common wisdom is that the higher a bedsheet’s thread count, the more comfortable it is. A 200-count sheet is akin to sleeping on a bed of spiky garbage, while a count of 1,000 is like being cradled to Buddha’s bosom on a cloud made of nirvana. But it’s impossible to fit 1,000 normal-sized bedsheet threads on a loom, so inferior threads are used — to the detriment of your wallet and comfort of your ass. Anything above 400 threads isn’t possible unless you use thinner, “lower-quality cotton” that some might refer to as “orphan grade.” These weaker strands are twisted together but counted individually, which is like saying you get 1,000 pebbles instead of 200 jewels.

According to the professional bullshit detectors at Consumer Reports, a 280-thread count is best for a good night’s sleep, with even a single thread beyond that wasted on your precious skin. But that doesn’t stop J.C. Penney from selling 1,200-thread-count sheets for 95% more than 300-count sheets from the same manufacturer to capitalize on consumers who live like blue collar workers but want to sleep like oil tycoons.

At least the 1,200-count sheets look nice and cozy for the one time you’ll ever have them folded up properly.

But what about sheets that use Egyptian cotton, the softest of all raw bedding materials? Is the inflated price justified then? Wrapping yourself up in Egyptian cotton is said to be like spooning the Sandman himself, but manufacturers slap the label on sheets that are massively overpriced blends with only a small percentage of the pure, uncut white stuff. So yeah, high-end sheet manufacturers are no better than your neighborhood drug dealer.

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