'Real Value': Products That Are Worth the Price

Who can you trust these days? With political scandals and financial scams abounding, who really has your back? Is there anyone you can believe in anymore?

Good Housekeeping editor in chief Rosemary Ellis says you can believe in the Good Housekeeping Seal.

"It's become the de facto phrase that means best of breed," said Ellis. "You can trust us, it's the best, it's the top of the heap, and when people see the seal on a product, they know they can trust it."

Good Housekeeping is a 124-year-old magazine filled with recipes and cleaning tips. But there is more. Much more. On the 29th floor of a posh New York skyscraper, the Good Housekeeping Research Institute tests everything.

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This year the magazine is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Good Housekeeping Seal, and in this time of newspaper closings and magazines folding, Good Housekeeping is actually picking up subscriptions.

"It's obviously more relevant than ever," Ellis said. "Times are so tough, so you want to make sure that no matter what you're spending your money on, whether it's mascara or a microwave, that you're getting real value for your money. And no matter what price point it's at, that whatever you're investing in, it's going to do what it says it's going to."

In fact, the Good Housekeeping Seal offers a limited warranty: If the product doesn't perform as promised within the first two years, the magazine will refund your money. Not the company, the magazine. Only products that survive the testing gauntlet of the magazine's research institute win the seal.

"Some tests are very quick and easy, and some tests take months," said Miriam Arond, the director of the institute. "It really does depend. Our goal is to evaluate a product so that we're going to answer any question you might have as somebody who is about to buy that product. We want to make sure we have covered the territory and we know that it will perform as a consumer wants."

Inside the Good Housekeeping Research Institute

Arond leads a team of "super testers," including Kathleen Huddy, who is the textiles director.

"When you're dragging your luggage, your kid's dragging their backpack on the sidewalk, you want to know how that fabric is going to hold up," she said.

She said they perform tests that give consumers "a really good idea of the durability of the fabric."

With her machines, she beats the heck out of fabric to see how it will wear, simulating the effect of several years of wear and tear on furniture upholstery, for example.

"They go through anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 rubs, depending on the fabric type," she said. "It usually takes about two days."

Boots that claim to be waterproof are rained on. One that was tested while "Nightline" was there emerged soaked through.

"Your foot would be wet," Huddy said. "This boot says waterproof, so you would be unhappy. So that's why we're here. To make sure manufacturers are really telling the truth."

"We keep everyone dry and the manufacturers on their toes," she said.

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