[greets you at the door while wearing a frayed holiday sweater; offers you curdled egg nog]
Oh hello there! Merry Christmas! Oh, did I just wish you a Merry Christmas IN MARCH? Indeed I did. I just adore the holidays so much that I celebrate them all year round. It’s true! That way, I can fill every day with joyful tidings! Right, kids?
[my kids throw full cans of soda at me]
Such darling little scamps. Okay, so perhaps I’m being a touch casual with the truth here. I must confess that I’m a bit late to the holiday this winter, and that is because, as befitting an American Christmas, everything got in my fucking way. I couldn’t drive anywhere this Christmas because there was too much traffic. I couldn’t buy any presents because every store was packed. I couldn’t cook anything because all the markets were barren. I couldn’t even find a Williams-Sonoma catalog to make fun of because—and this is true—I was mysteriously taken off the company’s mailing list (investigate?). And every time I went to a brick-and-mortar location to ask for a copy in person, they were curiously out of stock (INVESTIGATE!!!!). They offered me a catalog from the Home branch of the store instead, which I summarily threw into a nearby oil barrel fire tended to by a local hobo.
Then I was hospitalized for a month thanks to a head injury.
Coincidence? Hardly. These are the nefarious doings of BIG NAPKIN RING. Hell, the American holiday season is DESIGNED to stand in your way at all times. We, as a citizenry, flip the calendar to November and then tacitly agree to spend an swath of days and nights hugely inconveniencing one another.
Will any of that stop me from celebrating a proper Christmas, even if I’m 10 weeks late? Fuck and no, it won’t. We are GOING to have a Christmas in this house and I’ll murder any humbugging motherfucker who dares to stand in my way…
…Except you. You, dear friend, are welcome into our humble abode and formally exempt from murder. Excuse the 40,000 dead pine needles on the floor. We didn’t expect the tree to be up quite this long! The neighbors just LOVE it though. They surprised yesterday us by decorating our bushes with toilet paper garlands just to add to the festive mood! Yes, keeping the tree alive and freshly watered is just the kind of grey-hued tedium I love this time of year… even when this time of year falls into the following year.
And, to further inconvenience myself for YOU, our honored guest, I have finally procured and thusly scoured the Williams-Sonoma catalog for wares that will alight poor people all across this nation over in righteous fury. Because what is Christmas unless I invite a bunch of hoity-toity strangers over, break my back trying to entertain them, and then quietly seethe when they don’t appear to be jovial enough? It’s nothing. So, with that in mind, let’s have a belated look inside this tome of impossibly WASP-ish treasures. I hope there’s a $650 toaster in here! (SPOILER: There is!)
ITEM #48-2653140 – MAKE & GIFT COOKIE BAKING KIT
Copy: “EXCLUSIVE. 71-piece set includes cutters, decorating tools and packaging to prepare, decorate, and wrap festive treats.”
Drew says: Seventy-one pieces! What, do they toss in an air fryer as a free bonus, too? Listen man, unless I’m building a fucking Ford Thunderbird from scratch, I shouldn’t need 71 pieces to make anything. I’m baking cookies here. What do I need? A bowl, a spoon, a cookie sheet, 56 lbs. of Crisco, sugar, chocolate chips, some flour… that’s about it. What percentage of these artisanal cookie implements are lost within a minute of opening the package? 85%? This kit is aimed squarely at people who overdo it at the cookie swap and just HAVE to blow everyone else out of the water. “Oh wow, Miffty wrapped her lavender ginger puffs in chiffon! That BITCH.”
ITEM #48-5988662 – TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS KITCHEN LINENS
Copy: “NEW & EXCLUSIVE. Imported cotton.”
Drew says: Ooooooh, imported cotton! This isn’t like trashy cotton from America, only the third largest cotton producer on the planet. No no, this cotton came off a container ship! FEEL HOW EXOTIC THE SOFTNESS IS.
I know you think the spatulas in that photo are included with your apron and rag (oh sorry, LINENS), but they aren’t. Those will set you back another $27.95. For not a creature was stirring, except for a greedy CEO counting his pennies and hoarding 3/4ths of all gross revenue to himself so that he can die alone with it.
By the way, my apron is a Minnesota Vikings apron and the stains on it look like I helped dismember a mafia snitch.
ITEM #48-9498530 – NORDIC WARE HOLIDAY BITELET PAN
Copy: “NEW & EXCLUSIVE. Produces 16 small cakes shaped like wreathes, snowflakes, presents, and gingerbread men.”
Drew says: What is a bitelet? Was a single bite not small enough? I know that I’m the kind of person that bites off enough food to choke a blue whale every time I eat, so perhaps it was wise to break up the American bite measurement into 1,000 separate bitelets. But come on. Why entertain people if you force them to eat the absolute SMALLEST, least satisfying portion of food? O ho ho ho, Trixie, what a marvelous feast of roast goose! But I cannot stomach a WHOLE bite of dessert! Surely there’s some sort of microbite I could have that isn’t discernible to the naked eye? Let me just SMELL the gingerbread. After all, smelling is a form of tasting! Let me have just one lil’ nose-nip.
By the way, now that “snowflake” is an epithet that is liberally tossed around by conservatives, I wonder how many people eschewed snowflake-shaped foods and decorations this Christmas to avoid upsetting Uncle Brad. “Oh, a snowflake cake, huh? You got a tree in there shaped like that Alex Oh-CASE-ee-oh harlot, too?”
ITEM #48-6371835 – PEPPERMINT SNOW
Copy: None. Not even “NEW & EXCLUSIVE,” which is weird because everything else in here is labeled as such. Nothing in this catalog says OLD & PRETTY MUCH EVERYWHERE.
Drew says: These are crushed candy canes (sorry, I meant mini-bitelets), which are old and pretty much everywhere. And they want $19 for it! The fucking nerve! Oh, bit this is SNOW. Unless it turns into a living snowman when a Christmas Snow falls, I ain’t interested. You can buy a bag of this shit at the Dollar Store! I’m not kidding. I’ve seen it there. Or you can crush whole candy canes yourself. Every unwrap a whole candy cane? It sucks. I’d rather dig up a pet that died.
ITEM #48-3491297 – PEPPERMINT BARK
Copy: “20 years of peppermint bark… our signature peppermint bark has been artisan-made in our San Francisco factory since 1998… #BarkYeah
Drew says: You can bust your ass making your own stupid peppermint bark—using this catalog’s ingredients and recipe—and somehow spend more money doing it, or you just buy a tin of the finished product for $30. Sounds cheaper and easier, right? That’s the con. They want you to think you’re being cheap and lazy by spending 30 bones on shit you get for free at a PTA meeting. Oh, but this has been artisan-made since 1998! Such history. I was born in 1976. I’m more than twice as old as that factory! You think anything I make is worth a crap?
By the way, I looked up that #BarkYeah hashtag on Twitter to see who used it and…
Yup. My soul mate peppermint bark is the hardcore sex flavor. #BarkYesYesOhGodYes
ITEM #48-6601233 – PEPPERMINT BARK PUPS (awww)
Copy: “NEW & EXCLUSIVE… infused with pure peppermint oil.”
Drew says: Can I vape that oil?
ITEM #48-9737730 – PERSONALIZED HANDCRAFTED TOFFEE TIN
Copy: “NEW & EXCLUSIVE. Customize your 1 lb.-keepsake with a special name or holiday message.”
Drew says: Imagine getting one of these for Christmas. Not only does it say, “Hey, you like candy so much that we gotta keep a box of it around all the time and put your name on it in case we run out, which will be often!”, but it also means that your significant other didn’t spring for the Peppermint Bark, which is actually less expensive! This tin may as well read HEY, MARY LOUISE! EAT SHIT!
ITEM #48-4102653 – MORAVIAN GINGER SPICE COOKIES
Copy: “World’s thinnest cookie.”
Drew says: There is nothing that rich people love more than thin cookies. A Girl Scout thin mint is porkier than Mary Louise, as far as they’re concerned. They require only the slightest bitelets of florentines, palmiers, wafers, and these ginger snaps, which are so thin they’ll give your tongue a paper cut that’s half an inch deep. LUXURY. Anyway, these ginger-spiced razor blades come to you all the way from the exotic lands of MORAVIA, which occupies part of the Czech Republic. Hard to believe the King Vaclav of Brno would allow Americans to trade for his precious spices!
ITEM #48-5401000 – FROM ROY CLASSIC ORANGE & RAISIN PANNETONE
Copy: “NEW. Made by acclaimed Chef Roy Shvartzapel… Pannetone from Roy: An endless drive to control time and nature...”
Drew says: Come again? I thought I was just eating an orange cake. I didn’t realize I possessed an enchanted, fruit-studded tesseract that would allow me to bend spacetime to my will. Hat’s off to Chef Roy Shvartzapel (yes, THAT Roy Shvartzapel) for cracking both a dozen eggs and the secret to immortality.
Anyway, this is a $60 pannetone. At Christmas, you can buy a pannetone at the store for, like, eight bucks. Stores can’t WAIT to be rid of them. I walk into Trader Joe’s and they have boxes of them stacked dead in the center of the dairy aisle, choking up vital cart lanes while being ignored by commuters who are just trying to get a fucking tub of cranberry biscotti. Let’s not go crazy with pannetone’s ability to manipulate galactic physics.
ITEM #48-5788869 – JUMBO MARSHMALLOWS
Copy: “NEW & EXCLUSIVE. Six pieces. Peppermint cocoa or vanilla.”
Drew says: That’s $20 for six goddamn marshmallows. You wanna see control of time and nature? Here it is. You live in a world where prevailing economic and social forces have disfigured the economy so horribly that someone willingly bought these. Someone saw dug through the catalog and was like, “These jumbo mallows will make the PERFECT stocking stuffer for our husky little Conrad!” According to the catalog’s Holiday Marshmallow Glossary (yes, it’s really called that), you can also buy 24 mini marshmallows for $19.95, or a set of three marshmallows that form the word JOY for $9.95. I bought the latter and hung them on my front door. You could chip a tooth on them now.
ITEM #48-5145261 – RORY DOBNER MONOGRAM MUG
Copy: “NEW & EXCLUSIVE. Generously sized.”
Drew says: I know bored cheapskates are now binge-watching old episodes of “Friends” on Netflix, but I’m still against the idea of bringing generously-sized novelty coffee mugs BACK into the greedy culture. Just get a second cup of coffee, you asshole. You don’t need a mocha that’s the size of a lake. Your poor wrists can only handle so much fluid mass. Big mugs exist so that people can cradle them in both hands and act like they’re holding a puppy. It’s just a coffee. You are not adorkable.
But anyway, these mugs were created by THE Rory Dobner. MY GOD. An authentic Dobner? In my home?! Someone fetch the Shvartzapel sparkling apple cider so that we can both celebrate AND time travel!
ITEM #48-8800805 – SMEG/DOLCE & GABBANA TWO-SLICE TOASTER
Copy: “DESIGN-FORWARD GIFTS. SMEG joined fellow Italian design icon Dolce & Gabbana to create a Sicily-inspired appliance collection that merges the worlds of high fashion and design. Discover these functional works of art.”
Drew says: Yes, SMEG. It’s back! Why the name positively DRIPS with class. Anyway I was just trying to toast up a Pop Tart in here but suddenly…
…I’ve been magically transported to the streets of PALERMO. It’s true. Look, there’s Giuseppe, my fishmonger! And there’s my auntie Francesca! She make-a the gabbagool like-a no one else! And over there is a local mafia henchman kicking dead bodies into the gutter! Someone get him a ‘Twas the Night apron for that job! Ah… MY HOMELAND. Thank you, Smeg. Thank you for elevating the idea of a white trash breakfast into a work of transformative art. I’m gonna give one of these to my mother. Hey it’s Smeg, Ma! Perfect.
For $650, this fucker better not burn anything.
ITEM #48-3852816 – WILIAMS SONOMA DIPPING OIL GIFT SET
Copy: “EXCLUSIVE. Includes two dipping oils and two ceramic dip bowls.”
Drew says: These oils are part of the Gifts Under $50 section of the catalog. As you might have guessed, nearly half the items listed in this section ring in right at $49.95. So it’s really gifts that are BARELY under $50, which then easily rise above that total once you include tax and shipping. Oh, but dipping oils! If you use my Crunchy Parmesan Garlic & Herb oils for anything but dipping, I will cut you with my Rory Dobner teak-handled cheese knife.
ITEM #48-1504536 – CORAVIN MIDNIGHT BLUE MODEL 2 ELITE PRO
Copy: “Video. (whuh?) NEW & EXCLUSIVE. Enjoy a glass of wine or an assortment of wines without removing the cork. Recycled steel capsules fill interior with pure argon gas to protect remaining wine from oxidation. After pouring, cork naturally reseals itself.”
Drew says: I remain in awe of the massive ancillary economy of products designed for people who are too lazy or too stupid (or both!) to open a wine bottle using a plain old corkscrew. I love using a corkscrew! It makes me feel like the strongest man alive to tear that cork out. But if you have $400 to spare, I guess you can harness the power of noble gases and turn that bottle of Cabernet into a fucking cyborg if you want. Just drink your wine. It’ll be good.
ITEM #48-6992675 – ELYX COPPER GNOME SHAKER
Copy: “NEW & EXCLUSIVE.” Finally!
Drew says: Fun fact: When I was in my 20s and a bachelor, my go-to drink was a Stoli Razz on the rocks. I would order it shaken and not stirred because I apparently believed I was an agent in MI6 (I’m not… or am I!?!). This led to me owning a cocktail shaker and playing mixologist like a complete shitbag. Fun fact: I have never used a cocktail shaker without having the shaker leak. Now you might tut-tut that fact like a smarmy know-it-all and say that I owned an inferior shaker, but no. No, the leaks were extremely my fault. Who feels stupid NOW, huh fella? Anyway, go ahead and pay $130 to have a gnome piss Martini juice all over you if you feel like it.
ITEM #48-5713640 – QUESTLOVE’S POPCORN SEASONINGS
Price: $47.95 for set of three
Copy: “NEW & EXCLUSIVE. Truffle Parm Rosemary, Lemon Pepper, or Saturday Morning Cereal.”
Drew says: Okay, but WHICH cereal? Questlove is 48. He might eat oat bran every Saturday morning to keep regular. WITH flax milk.
You can also buy a set of three “sneakies” mini-shakers for $24.95, for the local grandma who just HAS to have industrial truffle powder on her popcorn when she goes to a 1030am screening of Captain Marvel. I would pay real money, at least two dollars, to see a video of a child receiving these shakers as a gift, with grandma being like, “They’re made by that hip hop fella! You guys like the hip hop, right? He’s in the talk show band!” And then the kid asks what a talk show is.
Want good popcorn seasoning? Buy salt. You can get 12 pounds of it for two bucks. No one at the Arclight will catch you sneaking in a dolly of it.
ITEM #48-3125726 – S’MORES MAKER
Copy: “NEW! Set includes roasting chimney, fuel can, grill top, four roasting sticks and ceramic tray.”
Drew says: Notice how this set lacks the only three things you actually need to make s’mores: graham crackers, a Hershey bar, and normal marshmallows (NOT the jumbo ones from here that cost as much as a Hyundai). This isn’t a s’mores maker at all. This is a glorified Sterno holder in search of edible food. Just make s’mores using a stick and a tire fire like normal Americans. It’s just like this catalog to invent an elaborate dining set for a dessert that doesn’t require it. This set exists so that upper class folk can eat normal food but still pretend it’s fancy. All the set does is get in the way! PERFECT FOR CHRISTMAS.
Are those Keebler Club crackers in that photo? I don’t approve.
ITEM #48-6932772 – HARRY POTTER™ COLLECTION
Copy: “Give kids (and kids at heart) their favorite fantasy characters… HOGWARTS™, HUFFLEPUFF™, GRYFFINDOR™, RAVENCLAW™, OR SLYTHERIN™.”
Drew says: The apron pictured only comes in adult sizes. Kids at heart, my ass. These aprons are targeted directly to insufferable yuppies who spend all day online breaking down episodes of the Binge Mode podcast and doing fan-inspired calligraphy for it.
The catalog also sells chocolate Potter wands for $32.95. JK Rowling now says she regrets the use of wands in her novels and that she should have had her wizards cast spells using peppermint hot cocoa stirrers instead.
ITEM #48-8180252 – STAR WARS R2D2 POPCORN MAKER
Copy: “NEW & EXCLUSIVE! BPA-free plastic.”
Drew says: BLEEP BLORP DON’T FORGET THE HIP HOP MAN’S CEREAL FLAVORING
ITEM #48-4823600 – FORTNUM & MASON ELEGANT TEA HAMPER
Copy: “A British tradition since 1707!... Celebrate the season with deluxe hampers, fine teas, coffees, and sweet treats!”
Drew says: They’re back, baby. If it’s Christmas, or even way AFTER Christmas, you better believe that it’s Hamper Season. Now you can put your dirty undies and your finest teas into the SAME receptacle! ELEGANT. Please note that this set, which costs $1,000, includes a tea called Rwanda but NOT one called Moravia. Dunno if that fills my quota for exotic teas quite enough. But if you enjoy being a sallow fanboy of British colonialism AND you spend your day in uncomfortable frillywear yearning for a love that will never come to you, well then here’s the overpriced tea dumpster for you.
ITEM #48-7560297 – ESPRO COLD BREW
Copy: “NEW & EXCLUSIVE! Includes brewer and 64-oz. growler.”
Drew says: If you bring a growler to my house and I find out it has iced coffee in it and not chocolate stout, you will know true pain.
Ninety bucks. For that. You can get cold brew at 7/11, man! Don’t even try to make your Growler of Maxwell House happen. GRRRRR tough day at the construction site building skyscrapers with just my bare hands. What say we enjoy a nice cold one, eh boys? Let me just reach into my coffee hamper! Anyone need a Splenda for theirs?!
ITEM #48-905653 – GRAND GRILL DADDY CLEANING BRUSH
Copy: “EXCLUSIVE! Steam cleans the grill using stainless steel bristles and a water reservoir in the handle.”
Drew says: CHOKE ME GRILL DADDY. No true Smokeboy is gonna pay $65 for a glorified squirt gun. I clean my grill like a REAL MAN, meaning I jack up the temperature to 58,000 degrees and let FIRE do the cleaning for me. Then I scrub the grate with a brush that’s been sitting under the porch all winter. I’ll die of ptomaine poisoning shortly, but at least I’ll die with some BALLS.
You can also buy a Traeger grill from the catalog for $1,700. I’m sure Williams-Sonoma is where Zuck gets all his smokeboy essentials.
ITEM #48-7270745 – TRISHA YEARWOOD’S CHRISTMAS IN A PITCHER
Copy: “Mixup festive flavors with country star, lifestyle maven, TV host, and best-selling author Trisha Yearwood… just add you favorite spirit, sparkling wine, or bubbly mineral water.”
Drew says: Wait, there’s not even booze in this thing? I just paid $35 for a growler full of maraschino cherry juice? WHAT THE FUCK, TRISH. You call this is a country music Christmas? For a proper country music Christmas, I wanna drink fermented Clorox out of a rusted bucket and then chase it with a pimento cheese squirrel burger. Now THAT is how real country folk ring in the holiday!
That mixer looks like what comes out of Ricky Bobby when he pisses excellence.
ITEM #48-7589940 – CHILLING CUBES AND SPHERES
Copy: “Ice for every drink.”
Drew says: Years ago, someone to whom I will now have to apologize gave me whiskey stones, which are stones you freeze and then drop into a cocktail. I got these because I’m the sort of hypocritical WASP who mocks the items in this catalog while secretly desiring them. I also like whiskey because I’m under the illusion that drinking whiskey means that people take you seriously.
So, chilling cubes. No. Have you ever had a cocktail and said to yourself, “Hey this is good, but I wish the ice was constantly threatening to chip my teeth, and I wish that I had to wash that same ice afterward!”? No. You have not said that. Ice works fine. As my Chopped sensei Ted Allen will tell you, slight dilution from ice is actually important to the flavor of a cocktail. There are 50,000 kinds of fancy ice molds available in this catalog that will do the trick and make you feel like a CEO all at once. They even have Darth Vader ice, because what bourbon drinker hasn’t wanted to looks like a fucking nerd while imbibing? I bet Hemingway used them.
ITEM #48-5465815 – MINI BEEF WELLINGTON BITELETS
Copy: “Chunks of sirloin braised with mushrooms and punchy sherry vinegar… 24 pieces.”
Drew says: More bitelets! Why not make the whole store out of bitelets? You can go to Trader Joe’s and buy a package of frozen mushroom puffs (and a pannetone!) for like six bucks. That’s all you need to make a suburban cocktail party tolerable until it’s time to eat real food. But no, here is the catalog asking you to put down $50 for steak pie bitelets. Fuck that! I’m not paying that.
Now if YOU pay it and serve them at YOUR house, that’s not my problem. I’ll gladly grab the tray out of your hands and down all the steakokopitas in a single go. I have no shame. WHERE ARE THE CRABCAKES?!
By the way, proper beef Wellington is made with filet, not the sirloin cut that these bitelet-lets are made with. You think you can get that past me, Williams-Sonoma? I AM THE BEEF KING OF MORAVIA! If you want real fliet, the proper beef Wellington dinner in here costs $180. No hamper included. I guess sirloin is fine. I won’t send mine back.
ITEM #48-9345635 – SAECO XELSIS
Price: $2,799.95. I hope it’s imported!
Copy: “Video. NEW & EXCLUSIVE. SPECIAL VALUE. Fully automated stainless steel espresso machine. Enjoy 15 beverages with the integrated milk frother with dual-chamber technology for dense, long-lasting foam, and 12 grinder settings for light coffee to full-bodied espresso. Its innovative water filter allows you to brew 5,000 cups without descaling.”
Drew says: Special value, huh? The catalog notes that the suggested retail value of this double-barrel froth blaster is $4,000. I guess a fully scaled cup of coffee is worth it? One time I burned down a Friendly’s because the Folger’s they served wasn’t descaled properly. They deserved it.
Listen man, just because this machine was priced as an even WORSE ripoff doesn’t mean you should use the down payment on a BMW to diversify your grinder settings. Far as I can tell, this was the costliest item in the catalog this (last) year. How long do you need your coffee foam to last? Through menopause? This is the kind of espresso Lexus that yuppies charge on credit and then RAVE about. “Oh, I had to give up my insulin for it, but I wouldn’t trade my Joe-Cero machine for the world!” You can easily talk yourself out of buyer’s remorse if the price tag is high enough.
In fact, that’s the goal of American industry titans right now. They slowly jack up prices on seemingly everyday fare until you, the consumer, forget that paying this much for a coffee machine is fucking INSANE. Then you take out a loan with terrible rates to afford one and you are indentured to that debt well past your death. All for a double-barrel espresso machine. That is corporate America’s gift to YOU. Merry Christmas! Kind of! See you again next time, unless more shit gets in my way!