As 2023 comes to a close, it’s time to reflect back on the 200+ products I reviewed throughout the year and pick my top 10 – or should I say bottom 10 – for my Worst of 2023. I’ll also include a couple of dishonorable mentions for those that just missed the cut. Let’s get to it!
Below is an alphabetical list of all of the products covered in this countdown. Be sure to keep scrolling to see my summary of each product.
- Blade Blocker: Video | Written Review | Purchase
- Bread Slicer: Video | Purchase
- Butter Mill: Video | Purchase
- Dippin’ Dots Maker: Video | Written Review | Purchase
- Icee Maker: Video | Written Review | Purchase
- Inkless Pen: Video | Purchase | Purchase the Cheap Pen
- On-The-Go Projector: Video
- Slap Chop Folding Cutting Board: Video | Written Review | Purchase
- Soda Dispenser: Video | Written Review | Purchase
- Space Pong: Video | Purchase
- Temu/Wish Shoes: Video | Written Review
- Zippi Sweeper: Video | Written Review | Purchase
Worst Products of 2023
I sifted through the 200+ items I reviewed this year and came up with the list below for my picks for the bottom 10 of the bunch, along with a couple of “honorable” mentions that just missed the cut. Unlike last year, which was heavy in kitchen gadgets for my Worst of 2022, this year there are fewer kitchen gadgets in my countdown than usual. Let’s get to it!
10. Icee Maker
Even though this Icee maker has been around for years, its presence has recently surged on social media. These videos often showcase the final product but conveniently skip mentioning the hefty $130 price tag. My own experience involved navigating through 14 cumbersome steps, only to be rewarded with 25 minutes of intolerable, ear-splitting noise from the appliance. The result? An aesthetically pleasing slushie that, unfortunately, left a bitter aftertaste when I used their overpriced syrup. A ray of hope appeared when I experimented with a different syrup brand, not the one they market, which did improve the taste. However, I still question the logic of enduring such a hassle for a slushie, when a quick, less expensive trip to the nearest gas station offers a more straightforward solution.
9. Temu/Wish Shoes
When I decided to compare Wish and Temu, I decided to order the identical brand of shoes from both platforms. The outcome was, to put it mildly, uniformly disappointing. In my over five decades of life, I have never encountered shoes as fundamentally uncomfortable as these. The experience was a stark reminder that sometimes, consistency isn’t always a virtue, especially when it translates to a uniformly poor quality.
8. Inkless Pen
The price tag of a product isn’t usually a key factor in my Worst of the Year rankings, but this $200 “inkless pen” might just break the mold. In a side-by-side test with a modestly priced $6 alternative from Amazon, it was the budget-friendly option that emerged as the clear winner. The stark contrast in performance between the two pens, despite the massive price difference, was both surprising and telling.
7. Slap Chop Folding Cutting Board
I’m a big fan of Vince Offer and several of his innovative products, such as the ShamWow and Slap Chop. However, my enthusiasm wanes when it comes to the Slap Chop Folding Cutting Board. My experience with it was underwhelming, to say the least. The board was disappointingly flimsy, stubbornly refused to lie flat, and had an annoying tendency to slide around during use. While the folding feature is a neat idea, it’s just not enough to save this product from falling short of expectations.
6. Blade Blocker
Continuing my countdown, let’s talk about the Blade Blocker, an upgraded version of the ID Police, which, as you may recall, made my Worst of 2021 list. This new iteration includes a refillable unit, complete with two extra refills, and introduces a blade designed for slicing open letters and packages. However, the improvements end there. The blade itself is disappointingly weak, the refills turn out to be messy and more trouble than they’re worth, and the security roller hasn’t improved at all from its predecessor’s lackluster performance.
5. Butter Mill
Reflecting on last year’s picks, I fondly remember featuring a butter mill in my Best of 2022 lineup. However, this year tells a different story. A different model, tested amidst a variety of butter gadgets, has unfortunately earned its place on my Worst of the Year list. The model I tried was unwieldy, frustrating to use, and the final straw? It produced a meager amount of butter despite requiring considerable effort.
4. Bread Slicer
My curiosity about comparing a budget bread slicer with a high-end model had been brewing for years, and in 2023, I finally decided to dive in. For the pricier option, I opted for the #1 Best Seller on Amazon, thinking it would be a reliable choice. However, my experience aligned me with the surprisingly vocal minority who were dissatisfied with this product. The main issue? The bamboo material was prone to splintering, and I frequently found splinters in and around my bread. Despite its appealing features, the presence of splinters was an absolute dealbreaker for me.
3. On-The-Go Projector
Number 3 on my Worst of the Year countdown is a recent addition, so recent in fact, that I had to reshuffle my entire Worst of the Year list to include it. Enter the On-The-Go Projector, a purchase from my local T.J. Maxx. I didn’t scrutinize the packaging at the time, which gave no hint of the disaster that lay within. This product is essentially an empty box featuring a hole, a tube, and a lens. The concept involves placing your phone inside the box, but all you get is a backwards, dim image projected on your wall — a far cry from a real projector experience. It felt more akin to a rudimentary science experiment than a piece of tech worthy of being called a projector.
2. Soda Dispenser
In my review of various soda gadgets, I found most to be underwhelming, but one took the cake for its sheer ineffectiveness, earning the title of my #2 Worst Product of 2023: the soda dispenser. Its most glaring flaw is the design of the spout, positioned several inches above the point where the soda bottle attaches. This means any soda below the spout line remains undispensed, leaving a substantial amount undrinkable. Even at rock-bottom prices, like a couple of dollars on Temu, this gadget seems overpriced given its limited functionality.
1. Zippi Sweeper
My regular viewers probably won’t be shocked by my choice for the worst product of 2023: the Zippi Sweeper. Marketed as a hybrid between a vacuum and a broom, it ironically seemed to enlarge the messes rather than clean them up. The front brush often scatters debris instead of collecting it, resulting in a need to clean a much larger area than initially anticipated. Additionally, the brushes have a tendency to trap hair, and the dustbin frequently spills its contents if the unit is even slightly tilted. This product strikes me as a promising concept that was unfortunately lost in subpar execution.
Below are my “honorable” mentions, which include a couple of items that I felt worthy of discussion in this countdown.
Dippin’ Dots Maker
Having shared in my kids’ fondness for Dippin’ Dots over the years, I was quite familiar with the brand. So, when I stumbled upon a Dippin’ Dots maker, my interest was immediately piqued. Although this gadget did succeed in producing small, frozen spheres, the end result bore little resemblance to the iconic Dippin’ Dots, which are uniquely crafted using liquid nitrogen. The flavor and texture of these homemade versions fell notably short of the original’s distinctive charm.
On a casual stroll through the As Seen on TV section of Walmart, I was drawn to a product called Space Pong. Both its packaging and a promotional video I later watched online suggested a vibrant, light-based indoor game, projecting a bright ball of light onto the walls. However, the actual product delivered a disappointingly dim light that projected onto the ceiling and the paddle responsiveness was hit or miss. My son and I gave it a try and, ironically, found ourselves enjoying the time together in spite of the game’s shortcomings, rather than because of them.
A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has watched, liked, commented, subscribed to, and shared my videos throughout this year. Your support means the world to me, and I am genuinely grateful for each and every one of you. Wishing all of you an incredible 2024! I’m excited to embark on another year’s journey with you, filled with curiosity and discovery. Let’s see what strange and fascinating gadgets we’ll uncover together in the upcoming year!