food and beverages, restaurants

Chicken-Fried Logs, Surveillance Servingware Among Season's Goofy Promos

There’s no place like homepage — and Instagram and Twitter — for the holidays, at least if you’re a brand hoping for some buzz-driven incremental sales.

This year’s batch of merry pranks includes new variations on attention-getting limited-edition items, as well as new entries in the growing array of branded merchandise lines.

To promote its new Philadelphia Dips, Kraft (which seems to have a limitless supply of novelty items up its sleeve year-round) has come up with the “Double-Dip Detector” — a sort of surveillance serving bowl.

Paired with a phone camera, the motion-detecting “smart bowl” tracks dipping movement and alerts fellow party-goers, “with a robotic-sounding warning message,” when someone commits the faux pas of double-dipping. (What was that about good will toward men… er, people?)



Scoffers take note: The video showing the bowl in action (below) has drawn nearly 2.7 million views since its debut on YouTube on Dec. 11. Moreover, the single bowl actually created for this promotion, which was put up for sale on eBay, had drawn 52 bids — with a top bid of $1,025 — as of early Dec. 15. (Seller does not accept returns.)

Not to be outdone, KFC — the folks who gave the world Extra Crispy Sunscreen — has partnered with Enviro-Log to create an environmentally friendly yule log that fills your home with the festive odor of fried chicken.

The QSR brand was careful to warn potential users that the log “may result in a craving for fried chicken,” or “attract bears or neighbors who are hungry.” KFC also advised against putting one’s face directly in the fire in order to better savor the aroma.

Again, the stunt appears to be a hit: An unspecified number of KFC 11 Herbs & Spices Firelogs, on sale online this week for just $18.99, sold out within hours (as these items inevitably seem to do).

IHOP's PancakeWare, Stella's Robotic Bartender

On the branded products front, the Pillsbury Doughboy’s line of ugly Christmas sweaters has been joined by IHOP’s “exclusive” PancakeWear Collection. The holiday sweaters, T-shirts, socks, kids’ gear, pins and other items are, of course, festooned with images of pancakes and IHOP coffee mugs and carafes. Tote bags offer inspirational messages like “Be the pancake you want to see in the world.”

Even better, “Shoppers can anticipate new PancakeWear items added throughout the year.” Our mugs runneth over.

Exhausted by all that online branded merchandise shopping?

Kick back and sip a libation delivered by a robotic server.

In another “smart home” promotional application, Stella Artois unleashed Bartending Automated Robotic Technology (B.A.R.T.): an attachment for robotic vacuums that carries beer and snacks to your party guests. (This video shows it in action.)

The idea: In line with the beer’s holiday campaign theme, “The Best Present Is Being Present,” the robotic bartender is designed to let hosts spend more time with their guests (as well as “live like the Jetsons”).

In case you haven’t already guessed, the limited number of these items that were on sale online for $19.99... sold out in hours.

But all is not lost: You can still download a free blueprint to make your own robotic bartender, after you’ve assembled all those toys.

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