HIGHTOWER: Peaches, Picnics, and a Good Book

Time for another journey into the Far, Far, Far-Out Frontiers of Free Enterprise.Today, Spaceship Hightower rockets you into the dark realm of product packaging, where what you see is not always what you get. Consumer Reports magazine is our guide on this trip, having discovered these examples of the advertiser's art.Let's start with "a peach of a deal." That was the advertising slogan of Peachtree Natural Gas corporation, based in Georgia, offering up to 90 days of free natural gas for home heating to new consumers. The peachiness of the deal wore off, however, when one learned that the 90 days of free gas were in the months of June, July, and August. Surely there's a competitor offering free cooling in the winter.Since the summer months are hot, it's always nice to go picnicking, and the Kingsford corporation makes just the item to help you: the Table Top Charcoal Grill, which sets ever so handily right atop your picnic table. But when you open the instruction brochure for the Table Top Grill, rule number one is: "Do not place on top of any table."Well, whether in summer or winter, one enjoyable way to pass the time is to curl up with a good mystery novel, like maybe one by the best-selling author Lawrence Sanders. The cover of his latest book, called "McNally's Dilemma," features Sander's name in bold type above the title. Yet, readers might have noticed that McNally's Dilemma didn't quite seem to match Sanders' usual writing style. Those who did some sleuthing of their own, working with a magnifying glass, would have found on an inside page in tiny type the truth: Sanders had died in 1998, and this new book is ghostwritten! The tiny type reads that the publisher has "chosen Vincent Lardo to create this novel based on Lawrence Sander's beloved character ... "This is Jim Hightower saying ... Not even death will stop corporate marketers from trying to sell you a bill of goods.

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