Nation | Economy

5 Odd Things You Can Buy

NPR | Aug. 20, 2013 10:14 a.m.

Contributed By:

Linton Weeks

For the person who has everything — or maybe wants everything — we go Windows-shopping at Why I’m Broke, a portal to outrageous gift ideas. There we find links to a $2 million personal submarine, a $3,500 Nintendo Controller coffee table and a $42 golf club that dispenses drinks.

Not satisfied with the first-world excess of the collection, we delve deeper into the caverns of consumerism and discover five more odd things you can buy, if you — and your disposable income — are so disposed.

1) Zonkey. A cross between a zebra and a donkey, the zonkey is advertised as very friendly. “With the right handling she can be trained to ride or drive … similar to training a mule,” according to Rarity Acres in Kalamazoo, Mich.

2) Roadside Trash. Before there was eBay, wherever did we find ridiculously brilliant items like the collection of “Roadside Trash Litter Between SE Washington and NE Oregon” and gag cans of dehydrated water that comedian Steven Wright would love?

3) Coprolite. Some will argue that fossilized dinosaur poop is not a frivolous purchase. And we won’t argue with them. But it’s still an odd pursuit, even for paleontologists.

4) Larvets. Advertised as “real edible worms,” these snacks come in several flavors, including barbecue and cheddar cheese.

5) Ocean Water. Sure, people with tropical-fish aquariums need saltwater, but the idea of buying something as uberplentiful as ocean water seems akin to buying night wind or summer rain or falling leaves.

Many frothy purchases, says Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist at Golden Gate University, “are purchased to elicit an emotional response from another person. It could be a bonding laugh, attention or admiration.”

And though most of the items listed above are extreme, she says, “the quest for human connection is part of most of the things that people buy. These aren’t my particular taste, but I bet there are a few things I’ve purchased that others would scratch their heads about — like a box with a trout on it for my fisherman friend who has everything.”

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