Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Snake oil is still a thing

Apparently even in this modern age one can still earn a living as a snake-oil salesman.

Check out this person selling “hot dog water.”

The tent selling unfiltered “Hot Dog Water” — literally a bottle of water with a wiener floating inside — for $37.99 a pop included some promising, if not dubious, claims. Such as helping consumers not only lose weight but also increase brain function, look younger and improve overall vitality.

Really, why stop there? Probably this water will also cure baldness, repel mosquitoes and ticks, and make your hair shiny.

Sales of the water were brisk at the Sunday festival, according to Bevans, whose booth also offered accessories, such as Hot Dog Water lip balm and Hot Dog Water breath spray.

I shall charitably assume that all buyers thought $37.99 was a fair price for a joke gift. Even that is hard to get my mind around, but it beats believing they all think it will improve their brain function and overall vitality.

Actually, it’s not quite snake oil, as apparently the purveyors of the hot dog water — I can barely bring myself to even type that phrase — were not serious:

...The fine print at the bottom of his sign, which suggested he was conducting a piece of performance art, of sorts: “Hot Dog Water in its absurdity hopes to encourage critical thinking related to product marketing and the significant role it can play in our purchasing choices,” it read.

Does that make the brisk sales better or worse?

Sales of modern snake oil are something to marvel at, but with far too much potential to end in tragedy:

Helen, 50, had shunned mainstream cancer treatment. Her grieving family says the “bright and successful” woman had fallen under the influence of a self-described healer and hypnotherapist who told her not to undergo surgery. Instead he allegedly prescribed an aggressive and painful treatment called black salve, which ate away at her flesh, leaving her swollen and in pain.

Desperation sometimes makes even intelligent people follow snake oil claims right off a terrible cliff. I hope anyone who just blew $38 on “hot dog water” because they were actually that credulous will have learned enough of a lesson to be a lot more skeptical when it really counts.

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