Putting Ads' Promises to the Test

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The television commericial begins with a man ogling the hot female plumber who has come to install his neighbor's toilet, and in the hopes of getting to meet her, the man tries to clog his own toilet, flushing everything from scented candles, to washcloths, to potted plants.

All of them flush without a problem, which is good news for the toilet and good news for the man's wife, who shows up at the end of the latest ad from Kohler toilets. This commercial claims that Kohler's new model of toilets are practically uncloggable. So of course, I had to put this to the test.

VIDEO: Putting Products to the TestPlay

In order to test this safely, Kohler had to install a "closed-circuit" toilet in my bathroom, which is just a toilet that sits on top of a box, with the plumbing going into a removable tray instead of going directly into the city sewer line. Kohler insists that non-human waste should not be flushed down any toilet, as it can damage your home's plumbing system and can pollute your city's wastewater system.

So with that out of the way, the first thing up, scented candles. I dropped about half a dozen small scented candles into the bowl and was ready to start the flushing. To get the most out of each flush, the people from Kohler suggest you do a "1-Mississippi flush," holding down the flush lever for one second. It was only a test toilet, right? So what's the worst that could happen?

And in a second, all of the candles were gone. That totally worked. OK, so what next? Golf balls? Sure, why not?

For those in the know, the best way to get eight golf balls into a toilet bowl is to use a sand wedge, not a five-iron. After chipping in the last golf ball, it was time to see if these would forever remain a part of the water trap from my impromptu bathroom golf course.

I gave it a flush. And let's just say that I'll have to pick up a new box of balls from the clubhouse on my way out, because I'm not getting these ones back anytime soon.

Becky Clogs a Toilet--On Purpose

Candles? Check. Golf balls? Check. Washcloth? Check. A dozen travel sized shampoo bottles? Check. I was beginning to wonder if there was anything the toilet wouldn't flush.

In the commercial, the man tries to flush down his wife's bra and panties, so I had to step up to the plate. And that's where we ran into our first problem.

All jokes about size aside, the problem seemed to be not so much the flushing power, but the awkward shape of the objects. They got caught in the back part of the pipe. The toilet met its first match.

OK, so no flushing underwear down the toilet. Somehow I don't think this will interrupt my daily routine.

On to the last object, the potted plant. Now, my 12-inch tomato plant was a bit bigger than the plant they used in the commercial, but I say if we're going to go out, go out big.

Unfortunately, the Kohler toilet didn't seem to agree. The plant got sucked part way down before everything came to a screeching halt. Visions of Scotty from "Star Trek" screaming, "The engines, they cannot take it!" danced around my head as the toilet began to burp back up discolored, dirty plant water.

So the toilet met its final match, but again, as often as I see myself trying to flush an entire plant down a toilet, I think I'll be able to live with everything else it can do.

Maybe it was time to bring this all back to the real world. Nothing can clog up a toilet quite like ...toilet paper. And who better to test out how much toilet paper is too much than my twin 2-year-olds? If you guessed the camera crew, you get second place.

As I let my twins go crazy with the paper, I was already practicing the talk I'd have to give them later, that "this is only OK to do for TV, not at any other time, OK?"

With more than half a roll in, we gave it a flush. Would it work? Would my plunger days be over? Thankfully, yes. The Kohler toilet lived up to its promise.

Pizza Hut Pasta Vs. Italian Restaurant Pasta

"This is perfect!"

"The alfredo's great!"

"Wow, so good!"

These are just some of the reactions from one of the new Pizza Hut ads in which they claim that their new pasta line is as good as the pasta from a fancy Italian restaurant. So what's a product tester with two minutes of a segment left to fill to do?

We decided to stage our experiment at the Italian restaurant of a friend who wanted to remain nameless just in case he lost, and we would have him prepare his own marinara dish to sit side by side with Pizza Hut's marinara pasta dish. Then we'd serve both to the customers and let them decide which one they liked better.

A table of three all agreed, the pasta on the right should be on the menu.

"The only problem," I told them, "is that it can't. It's from Pizza Hut."

Consider minds blown.

I was playing waitress tonight, so it was time to find a new table. Waitressing is a lot like riding a bike, you never really forget how, and sometimes you should be prepared to wear a helmet. OK, onto the next table.

"Hmm, this one tastes like it came from Hamburger Helper or something," the girl at the next table said, referring to the Pizza Hut pasta. "I like my pasta a little aldente. So I think it is a little bit overcooked. I'd give it a 5 out of 10."

The two others sitting at her table agreed.

"It had a glutinous taste to it, which I wasn't a huge fan of," said another diner. " I give it a 5.5 out of 10."

Onwards and upwards, the first two tables all had relatively young people sitting at them. How about a few tables with some older patrons, who may have more of a refined taste?

An older couple traveling from Germany were up for the challenge, and both agreed that they liked the Pizza Hut pasta better, that it was richer in flavor to them.

And how about a retired couple who just came back from a pasta tasting trip in Italy? They were split. The husband thought the Pizza Hut pasta was "mushy tasting," while his wife thought it tasted better than the fancy restaurant pasta.

Scientific, this was not. And of all the customers we served that night, the decision was pretty evenly split down the middle. Half liked the Pizza Hut pasta better than the restaurant's, and half felt the other way. All in all, it's going to come down to personal taste.

Stopping the Bite of a Bee Sting

You may be saying to yourselves right now, "My, what a glamorous job you have as a product tester," but hold that thought, as I suit up to test the last product of the day. Yes, I'm going to surround myself with more than 80,000 bees, all to test a sting ointment.

Stops the Sting claims that it can stop the pain and swelling from insect bites and bee stings. (It should be noted that it should not be used for life-threatening allergic reactions. Go seek medical help if that's the case.)

The only problem with testing the product? It means I have to get stung ... twice. Still want to trade places?

The first thing I had to do was make the bees angry, as they were perfectly content to fly around me and go about their pollen-collecting day. In general, honeybees aren't aggressive unless you try to go after their honey or their queen.

They weren't really responding to the usual "Your queen is so fat..." jokes, so I had to stick my hands inside their man-made hives and knock around a bit before one would sting me. But I couldn't get stung just once, I had to get one sting on each hand. And in case you forgot what it feels like to get stung, I'll refer you to the video player on your left.

So with both hands properly stung, it was time to put the ointment on one hand, and leave the other alone. After about 30 seconds, both hands still hurt. Maybe it just needed time to work. After about five minutes, I started to notice a difference.

The hand that had no ointment was starting to swell, and the pain was still throbbing. The hand with the Stops the Sting ointment was hurting less and wasn't swelling. And after 30 minutes, the hand with no ointment was still swelled and throbbing with pain, the hand with the Stops the Sting ointment? No swelling, and I could even hit it with my other hand without it hurting. Conclusion: this stuff works.

While some product promises are a real pain, this one lives up to the buzz.