The curious minds over at the L.A. Times did some serious investigative journalism this week and answered a question that's been bugging me for some time now: What's up with the Amish space heaters? (That's actually the headline of the piece.) And I'm not being cheeky here. I saw one of these print ads a few weeks ago and not only did I read every inch of some of the worst copywriting seen since the 1930s (or best, depending on your tastes), but I tried to make my wife read it. She's one of them modern fancy-pants copywriters who believes that you should be able to express yourself in six words and using no punctuation. (In other words, she gets paid to write the way I talk.)
If you haven't seen these ads, just go grab a copy of Rolling Stone or Popular Science or National Geographic or ... well, any magazine. Looks like these folks are the only ones springing for two-page spreads these days. Here's how the L.A. Times describes them:
The ads tout the miracle heaters (which supposedly give the peaceful flicker" of a real fire, without any flames or ashes) as well as the mantles surrounding the fireplaces -- made by "soft-spoken Amish craftsmen" who have imposed a limit of two per household. And even stranger, the ads tell consumers they can get two free heaters by calling at a certain time (Californians, we are in the "cold zone," which means we should start calling at 8:30 a.m. At least we don't live in Idaho, which is in the "frigid zone," which can start calling at 8 a.m.But what about the mysteries the ad describes? The Times does not disappoint:
Here's the skinny: The heating units are made in China, while the real-wood mantles are made by the Amish from two separate Amish communities near Heat Surge headquarters in Canton, Ohio. The men dressed as Amish in commercials are real Amish and agreed to the photographs under the condition that the pictures "focus on the quality of the product."Read the whole thing. It's fascinating.