This week's worst kickstarter video: The ergonomic ice cream scoop

Rooting through dragon's bin.

Last week, we saw how charisma (and Mongolian-themed bellowing) can cajole strangers into giving you money for old rope on Kickstarter.

This time, we take away the charisma, keep the old rope and add an infomercial that’s harder to watch than a man chewing off his own legs.   

The brief: £20,000 needed to make an ice cream scoop that protects the wrist from the strain of scooping hard ice cream using an uncomfortable-looking bit of metal.

The need for the ErgoScoop, we are informed by an election-season-smear-ad-style voiceover, is that "carpal tunnel syndrome is the major cause of injuries, time off and worker’s compensation claims in the ice cream dispensing business today".

To hammer home this crisis, we are treated to a heart-stretchingly slow sequence where a scooper reaches repeatedly into an ice cream cabinet like a drugged bear rummaging through a fire, before unleashing a collection of bizarrely ethnic yelps of agony upon contact (“Oi vey!”, “Mama Mia!”). It’s all a bit Alan Partridge:

The saddest bit is the sense that the inventor feels he has solved one of the world’s great problems. He thinks he’s invented the next wind-up radio, when in fact he’s just made a thing that makes the user look like some kind of scoop-fisted pound shop Wolverine.

He talks about "hundreds of thousands" of dessert servers toiling with mangled wrists, and offers $500 donators the chance to be distributors, further growing the ErgoScoop empire.

This kickstarter, like so many, falls down on its investment rewards: if I pay this guy enough to make his thing, he'll let me sell it for him. Where do I sign up?

At least the Khans had fun in offering me next to nothing. The best I can get here is ice cream scoops at $25 a pop.

Think I'll just get one for £5, and wave goodbye to my wrists.

Fred Crawley is group editor for asset finance & accounting at VRL Financial News.

Look how ergonomic this scoop is. Photograph: kickstarter.com

By day, Fred Crawley is editor of Credit Today and Insolvency Today. By night, he reviews graphic novels for the New Statesman.

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Is there such a thing as responsible betting?

Punters are encouraged to bet responsibly. What a laugh that is. It’s like encouraging drunks to get drunk responsibly, to crash our cars responsibly, murder each other responsibly.

I try not to watch the commercials between matches, or the studio discussions, or anything really, before or after, except for the match itself. And yet there is one person I never manage to escape properly – Ray Winstone. His cracked face, his mesmerising voice, his endlessly repeated spiel follow me across the room as I escape for the lav, the kitchen, the drinks cupboard.

I’m not sure which betting company he is shouting about, there are just so many of them, offering incredible odds and supposedly free bets. In the past six years, since the laws changed, TV betting adverts have increased by 600 per cent, all offering amazingly simple ways to lose money with just one tap on a smartphone.

The one I hate is the ad for BetVictor. The man who has been fronting it, appearing at windows or on roofs, who I assume is Victor, is just so slimy and horrible.

Betting firms are the ultimate football parasites, second in wealth only to kit manufacturers. They have perfected the capitalist’s art of using OPM (Other People’s Money). They’re not directly involved in football – say, in training or managing – yet they make millions off the back of its popularity. Many of the firms are based offshore in Gibraltar.

Football betting is not new. In the Fifties, my job every week at five o’clock was to sit beside my father’s bed, where he lay paralysed with MS, and write down the football results as they were read out on Sports Report. I had not to breathe, make silly remarks or guess the score. By the inflection in the announcer’s voice you could tell if it was an away win.

Earlier in the week I had filled in his Treble Chance on the Littlewoods pools. The “treble” part was because you had three chances: three points if the game you picked was a score draw, two for a goalless draw and one point for a home or away win. You chose eight games and had to reach 24 points, or as near as possible, then you were in the money.

“Not a damn sausage,” my father would say every week, once I’d marked and handed him back his predictions. He never did win a sausage.

Football pools began in the 1920s, the main ones being Littlewoods and Vernons, both based in Liverpool. They gave employment to thousands of bright young women who checked the results and sang in company choirs in their spare time. Each firm spent millions on advertising. In 1935, Littlewoods flew an aeroplane over London with a banner saying: Littlewoods Above All!

Postwar, they blossomed again, taking in £50m a year. The nation stopped at five on a Saturday to hear the scores, whether they were interested in football or not, hoping to get rich. BBC Sports Report began in 1948 with John Webster reading the results. James Alexander Gordon took over in 1974 – a voice soon familiar throughout the land.

These past few decades, football pools have been left behind, old-fashioned, low-tech, replaced by online betting using smartphones. The betting industry has totally rebooted itself. You can bet while the match is still on, trying to predict who will get the next goal, the next corner, the next throw-in. I made the last one up, but in theory you can bet instantly, on anything, at any time.

The soft sell is interesting. With the old football pools, we knew it was a remote flutter, hoping to make some money. Today the ads imply that betting on football somehow enhances the experience, adds to the enjoyment, involves you in the game itself, hence they show lads all together, drinking and laughing and putting on bets.

At the same time, punters are encouraged to do it responsibly. What a laugh that is. It’s like encouraging drunks to get drunk responsibly, to crash our cars responsibly, murder each other responsibly. Responsibly and respect are now two of the most meaningless words in the football language. People have been gambling, in some form, since the beginning, watching two raindrops drip down inside the cave, lying around in Roman bathhouses playing games. All they’ve done is to change the technology. You have to respect that.

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 05 February 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Putin's war