This article appears in VICE Magazine's Stupid Issue, which is dedicated to the entertaining, goofy, and just plain dumb. It features stories celebrating ridiculous ideas, trends, and products; pieces arguing that unabashed stupidity can be a great part of life; and articles calling out the bad side of stupidity. Click HERE to subscribe to the print edition.
A decade ago, I might have struggled to find this many ridiculous items in a single shop on a London high street. Now you can find them all on one website: Wish.com. The ex Google engineer Peter Szulczewski created the shopping platform in 2011, and it has leapfrogged Amazon and the Chinese retail giant AliExpress to become the most downloaded shopping app in the world. In 2019, it was downloaded 168.8 million times.
The offerings of Wish are strange, dumb, and complex, like a junk sale taking place in the darkest recesses of Willy Wonka’s subconscious. Would you like a handful of mealworms? Fart-proof cargo pants? A fanny pack that looks like a beer belly? Wish has you covered—and, for the most part, for just a few dollars or less.
Many of these items have been the subject of morbid fascination on social media and Facebook groups like What has wish advertised to me today OH NO. Inspired, I decided to review some of the weirdest ones.
Wish sells a lot of costumes that make no sense. Case in point: this full-face “cross-border special party mask” of someone with chin testicles. It smells like an oil spill, and the sensation of encasing my head in this rubbery monstrosity put me on the edge of a panic attack. It’s horrible and I hate it. I could still smell it on my skin the morning after. If I were to sum it up in one word, it would be “carcinogenic.” This hasn’t stopped reviewers from giving its seller an average score of 4.2 out of 5.
I strapped my head into this and went out to meet a friend for dinner on one of the rainiest nights of the year. Did it work? It kept my head dry. Was it humiliating? Undoubtedly, yes. If you want to be tailed by a car full of men in public shouting “Ahahaha!,” this is the hat for you.
This fetching and adjustable sky-blue rodent leash has almost 400 three-star reviews, with users praising its quality and fit. I tried it on my friend Maddy’s guinea pig, Rollo, who immediately wriggled out of it while emitting a high-pitched squeal. “I’m going to say I appreciate the faux leather and the little bell,” Maddy told me, “but that was a definite fail.”
This mask claims to “prevent the cheeks sagging” and is modeled on the site by a blond woman with the thousand-yard stare of a war survivor. I dutifully wore this for 20 minutes every evening, as instructed by the seller. After seven days, there is no discernible change in my appearance beyond a slight rash on my jaw from the itchy fabric.
I ordered the “8–10 months” belly because I wanted the maximum amount of pregnancy for the price. What came in the mail was a huge, quivering lump of clammy silicone with flimsy Velcro straps to attach it around your waist. If you headed out in public wearing this, you’d have to battle the constant fear that your baby bump would fall off. I have no idea why you would want to fake a pregnancy, but there are probably better ways of doing it.
This cat grooming bag from “LadyPeiPei” promised “No Scratching Biting Restraint for Bathing Nail Trimming Injecting Examing [ sic].” I borrowed Davie, a small gray tabby, to test it out. After finally luring her into it with the promise of some treats, she managed to slip out of it several times. Davie’s owner, Kate, and I looked on in silence as Davie’s claws got trapped in the nylon mesh and she fell over in the bag. “Basically, it seems a bit cruel,” Kate said. I agree.
This “realistically styled and painted” severed limb has been glowingly reviewed by almost 2,000 people, including one reviewer who—somewhat concerningly—said it’s a “great prop for a first aid course.” The hand I received in the mail initially looked impressive (check out that protruding bone detail!), but the excitement quickly faded. It’s just a very squishy, badly made rubber prop with a strong whiff of paint.
The photo on the site shows a svelte athlete in all-black with a glorious matching parachute ballooning after him—it looks like a Nike ad. Unfortunately, what arrived in the post was a disappointing bright red nylon sheet with an elastic waistband. I brought it to soccer practice and ran the length of the pitch. It did add some resistance and slowed me down by a couple of seconds, but it’s hard to tell if that was because of the parachute or my embarrassment.
I really wanted to love these novelty fish flip-flops, but unfortunately I fucked up the sizing and ordered a child’s size. However, I did appreciate the close attention to detail, including the fact that the seller “Popular Shirt” went so far as to place fish eyes on the soles of the shoes.
Would you let your kid piss into a tiny portable potty bottle with the face of a frog? If the answer is yes, then congratulations—your Wish has come true. I do not have a child, so this “mother’s essential product” was slightly wasted on me. In the interest of fairness, though, I tried to review its leakproof-ness by filling it up with water and keeping it in my bag all day. It didn’t leak, but it did make me feel intensely weird every time I looked at it.
This arrived in the mail with no instructions, looking like a tiny medieval torture device from Saw. I attempted to attach it to my little toe and it just fell off. I am 100 percent sure someone out there is using this corkscrew highly successfully in a BDSM context, but I just have no idea how.
I have horrible sandpapery feet and I genuinely had high hopes for this. What turned up was a gigantic flip-flop made of hard plastic. I gingerly used the suction pads on the bottom of the “slipper” to stick it to the floor in my shower and wiggle each foot in it. My feet don’t feel any softer, but they do feel like they went through an extremely ticklish car wash.
There are some things that simply have no reason to exist in this world, and yet I’m just glad they do (like platypuses). You can add this cushion to the list. Who cares that the sequins are this badly sewn on when you can entertain yourself for hours stroking Nicolas Cage’s face? I concur with one reviewer who said, presumably with maximum sincerity: “This is everything I expected and I love it.”
The M249 light machine gun has been murdering people since the 1980s and was one of the U.S. Army’s weapons of choice in Afghanistan and Iraq. Personally, I can’t think of a better way to commemorate a decades-old killing machine than by turning it into a children’s toy. The Pineapple Water Gun looks so concerningly realistic that a VICE staffer, upon seeing it leaning against my desk, was compelled to leave a note on it that said this is NOT a real gun! it’s a prop for content when I left it in the office overnight. It even came with bullets—or, at least, water-based pellets that swelled up into jelly ammo. Does it work? Not really. After running the instructions through Google Translate, I wired the gun up to the battery pack. The M249 issued a lackluster spray of fake bullets and then clocked out. Pathetic.
Wish loves facial slimming devices. This one costs as much as the bandage mask, but with added potential for electric shock. Bargain! I slipped two AAA batteries into the back and wired it up to the two pads. “Wonderful combination of different pulse signals will make you hace the true feeling of acupuncte [ sic],” promised the instructions. I definitely felt something, but I think it was just the sensation of being mildly electrocuted by a ripoff Tamagotchi.