I was on the Jersey Turnpike when I saw it. I was driving my family to New York for Thanksgiving and there, along the shittiest stretch of road in the shittiest state in America, I saw the Williams-Sonoma fulfillment center: a vast hangar that seemed to stretch a mile long, with shipping containers lined up along the side, like piglets feeding on a series of artisanal teats. It was located in a town called Cranbury because of course it fucking was. It made me wonder if Williams-Sonoma chose the town of Cranbury specifically for the whimsy of it, or if they CREATED the town and christened it Cranbury just so that it could match their mission statement of bringing holiday cheer and $75 baskets of glazed figs to the world.
And I won’t lie, it was kind of nice to see the fulfillment center, to see just where the (imported, dry-aged Portuguese) sausage (with white wine and fennel) is made. This has not been a pleasant year. Everyone good died. America is now a bad sitcom flash forward episode. And I got a camera up my dick. So it was nice to see all those trucks lined up in Cranbury, each one getting its marching orders to drive out to some pristine house on some pristine cul-de-sac in some pristine suburb. Call it Peppermintbarkville—a place that the rest of the world cannot touch, where even a nuclear holocaust could not intrude upon the bestowing of gold napkin rings and cheese assortments. Life as we know may end, but the Williams-Sonoma catalog, and the army of little Ina Gartens who have seemingly unlimited cash to spend on its wares, will endure. They shall adorn their houses in the finest garlands and pass around only the choicest amuse bouches, and everything will be PERFECT even as the world burns a mile away. OH, IT’LL BE SO GRAND THAT YOU’LL WANNA PUKE.
So come with me now. Let’s forget about our troubles, crack open this year’s W-S Christmas catalog, and lose ourselves in a tartan wonderland. Will there be mug toppers? Oh, you better fucking believe there will be mug toppers. To the catalog…
ITEM #23-659196 – ANTLER ENTERTAINING COLLECTION
Copy: “Sculptural, antler-inspired pieces in polished nickel-finished aluminum and stainless steel.”
Drew says: That’s $160 to stick a fucking antler in the center of your table, like a deer ran into your home and hid under your dining table and then heard a frightening noise and then jumped up and impaled his stupid antler IN your table. FESTIVE. Anyway, if I’m putting any antlers on the table, they’re gonna be real. None of these poseur antlers for me. I’m taking down Bambi’s mom and then making her head the centerpiece of my turkey dinner. Eat up, children. Don’t mind the deer head looking into your soul.
ITEM #23-4554320 – LE CREUSET TARTAN 4½-QT. TARTAN CAST-IRON ROUND OVEN
Copy: “Special value… Tartan pattern appliquéd by hand and then refired to create a durable texture finish.”
Drew says: I hope you like tartan, because it is the IN pattern this Christmas. Everything must be tartan this year: the cookware, the table linens, the ribbons, THE CHILDREN. Yes, you must dress the children in tartan frocks. And not cheapass tartan frocks, either. If it is not hand-appliquéd by a disaffected French factory worker who only shows up to work two days a week... [Mike Myers voice] IT’S CRAP!
By the way, they don’t show you the inside of this Dutch oven (snicker snicker), but if it’s not ALSO tartan, I will smash it into pieces. It’s not worthy of my braising.
ITEM #23-7729705 – BOSKA “MR. BIG” FONDUE SET
Copy: “Family fondue party! Gather the gang for a festive fondue party… just melt, dip, and enjoy!”
Drew says: Oh, you think it’s that easy, do you? You listen to me, you shameless fonduemongers: There’s a reason no fondue pot on Earth has been used since 1988. Fondue is a complete pain in the ass. I have three small children. You really think it’s a good idea for me to hand them very sharp forks and then put a fucking CAULDRON of boiling hot cheese on the table, within their reach? Are you fucking insane? I still have scars on my arm from The Great Beef Fondue Incident Of ’85 at my parents’ house.
And why the hell can’t I get this pot in tartan? Get your shit together.
ITEM #23-5988662 – ’TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS DINNERWARE
Price: $7.96-$71.96. Please note that many prices this year have been reduced. Very hard year for the white working class AND Bridgehampton housewives alike.
Copy: “Behind the design: To capture the magical feeling of the night before Christmas, our designer hand-drew detailed vignettes for dinnerware, linens, décor, and more. Inspired by the legendary 19th century poem ‘A Visit From St. Nicholas’.”
Drew says: I just like that they had to explain the inspiration behind your ’Twas The Night Before Christmas soup tureen. “Oh, it’s from the POEM! Oh shit, I never would have gotten that.” The salad plates are $12 each. That better be a good salad if I’m paying that much. The whole salad better be made out of croutons and bacon bits.
ITEM #23-4025750 – NOEL TABLE RUNNER
Copy: “New & Exclusive. Appliquéd design. Imported.”
Drew says: Fuck table runners. There, I said it. A table runner is nothing more than an unfinished tablecloth. Sometimes people put the runner OVER the tablecloth, which increases the chances of your kid attempting a magic trick by 75%. Also, setting food down on a table with a runner is a mess. Half the platter is on the runner while the other half is on the bare surface. Now everything is all tilted like a bad table at Noodles & Company. AGONY. I need a matchbook just to make everything level again. And what if I’m serving fondue? One minute everyone is excited for dipping fresh strawberries and banana hunks. The next? Little Chadwick is in the ER with third degree chocolate burns on his nutsack.
ITEM #23-787770 – MOSCOW MULE MIXES
Copy: “Handcrafted in small batches with premium ingredients.”
Drew says: Nineteen bucks! It doesn’t even have the alcohol IN it. A six pack of ginger beer and a lime costs four bucks at the store. Oh, but this mix is hand-crafted. My ass. I wanna see footage of this supposed crafting process. Unless it involves Sage Northcutt hand-ripping apples and ginger roots and mashing them through a sieve, I call bullshit. For nineteen bucks, your Key Lime Ginger mix better make a damn good cocktail…
Okay that’s pretty good. I’M STILL UNHAPPY.
ITEM #23-419938 – COOKING FOR JEFFREY
Copy: “Hardcover. 256 pages.”
Drew says: You knew Ina Garten would show up in here at some point. If you really want to feel bad about yourself, go read her Vanity Fair questionnaire. I dare you. It’ll kill you on the spot. Here’s a sampling:
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Sundays in Paris with Jeffrey. We go to the Sunday market, make a nice lunch, drink a big bottle of Burgundy, and then take a long delicious nap. Heaven.
What is your current state of mind? It simply doesn’t get any better than this!
Where would you like to live? Right here in East Hampton.
What is your favorite occupation? Mine.
That’s great, Ina. I’m very happy for you. No really, I am. I think it’s great that your life is completely fucking unblemished. Meanwhile, my kid just threw up on my pillow. WHERE IS MY SUNDAY IN PARIS, YOU MONSTER?!
ITEM #23-4595153 – TWISTER/AERATOR DECANTER SET
Copy: “Double-walled glass aerator instantly multiplies oxygenation.”
Drew says: Oh, I bet it does. Here I am, drinking non-oxygenated Two-Buck Chuck like a goddamn SUCKER. I bet Jeffrey’s wine has multiplied air in it.
Anyway, the only reason to own a fancy decanter that looks like a test beaker from Dr. Jekyll’s laboratory is so that you can decant wine in front of other people and impress them. “Holy shit, he poured that wine from one container into another! He must be some sort of chemist.”
ITEM #23-4203258 – RABBIT AERO LEVER 2.0
Copy: “Opens wine with air pressure instead of a corkscrew.”
Drew says: Does it now? Could I place it over someone’s chest and suck out their heart with it, leaving no evidence of any kind? Could I terrorize the entire state of Texas with an Anton Chigurh pageboy haircut and my trusty MURDER VACUUM? Just asking. Completely innocent inquiry.
ITEM #23-4204991 – RABBIT ELECTRIC CORKSCREW
Copy: “Digital screen shows number of cork pulls left in charger.”
Drew says: Well, thank God for THAT. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had the electric corkscrew go out on me right in the middle of opening bottles of emergency Chianti for UNICEF kids.
By the way, can we talk about how useless fancy corkscrews are? They’re hideously expensive and take up way too much room. More important, anyone who relies on some stupid electric corkscrew is not a REAL MAN. A real man uses a rusty Swiss Army Knife and opens that bottle of Sauvignon Blanc using nothing more than pure grit and steel biceps. Then the cork crumbles halfway through the pull, and you get angry and smash the bottle on the counter in a fit of rage, and then everyone knows that you are NOT a man to be fucked with. That’s the right way to open wine. So take your rabbit and suck your butt with it.
ITEM #23-2902971 – NORDIC WARE STAR OF DAVID BUNDT™ CAKE PAN
Copy: “Turns out a lofty cake with crisply defined edges.”
Drew says: Thirty-seven bucks? What kind of SHADY GLOBALIST CABAL set that price? Also, that cake pan is clearly in the shape of a sheriff’s badge. Clear as day, folks. I love that there’s a segregated Hanukkah section of the catalog every year. Just round up all the Jewish gifts and place them in their own spot, eh? Pretty problematic imho.
By the way, I did not know that Bundt was a registered trademark. If I make an unlicensed Bundt cake, does the Bundt legal team show up at my house with a cease-and-desist order? I bet they’re real sticklers about any unauthorized cake that has a hole in the center.
ITEM #23-5035667 – PERSONALIZED PEPPERMINT BARK TIN
Copy: “New! Make it even more memorable by customizing our keepsake tin with a special name or holiday message. A once-a-year favorite, this festive treat is a great gift!”
Drew says: So I can put anything on it? In that case…
(h/t Jim Cooke)
ITEM #23-6633239 – PEPPERMINT BARK LOLLIPOP
Copy: “Exclusive. Snowman or Snowflake.”
Drew says: That’s for one. One stupid lollipop will run you nine bucks. Take it from me: you should never, under any circumstances, buy any child an oversized lollipop. Not only is it the perfect prop for any spoiled brat (“Little Priscilla here just LOVES her big lollipops and her novelty Barbie Porsche”), but most kids take forever to eat any lollipop, even very small ones. They drool all over the thing for nine hours until the lollipop bleeds raw sugar all the way to their shoulders. Then you’re left with a sticky toddler and six dollars of unused candy. It’s a goddamn mess.
ITEM #23-200493 – CHOCOLATE MICE
Price: $16.95. Set of six.
Copy: “Belgian white, milk, and dark chocolate mice are tempered until smooth and creamy and neatly arranged in a tin, ready for giving.”
Drew says: You sick bastards. Smooth, creamy mice. Jesus. What is going on in Cranbury?
ITEM #23-9427860 – GINGERBREAD FOLKS MUG TOPPERS
Price: $14.95. Set of four(!)
Copy: “Hangs on the rim of your favorite mug”
Drew says: But why? Why would I want that? I’m trying to drink my hot chocolate here. I don’t want a gingerbread “folk” to come sliding around the rim to high-five my face. This isn’t the first time that Williams-Sonoma has tried to hawk edible mug toppers that are stale, useless, and overpriced. As a goof, my brother bought me one of their Halloween mug toppers once. I then tried to top my mug with it. Look at this shit:
Look at that big dumb house hanging off the side of my coffee cup. I’m embarrassed for the cup. That house is CLEARLY not up to code. I give that topper an F for both Style and Function.
For real, I’m still laughing. Who needs a fucking house on their mug? By the way, there’s also a gingerbread house mug topper in here for $12.
ITEM #23-5210096 – ULTIMATE PEPPERMINT BARK COOKIE KIT
Copy: “Prepare a batch of chewy, chocolatey peppermint cookies in minutes, topped with white chocolate glaze and peppermint bits.”
Drew says: I won’t lie. I bet those cookies are great. Even with Williams-Sonoma openly trying to peppermint barkify the entire globe, I wouldn’t kick those cookies off my ’Twas The Night Before Christmas cookie platter. By the way, if you just want the crushed candy cane topping, you can buy a container of “peppermint snow” from Williams-Sonoma for $18.95. You can hand-appliqué your cookies with it! Or you can take a twenty-dollar bill and burn it in front of a homeless person. There’s really no difference.
ITEM #23-7666766 – PIGS IN A BLANKET
Price: $39.95, set of 24
Copy: “A luxurious version of a cocktail party classic.”
Drew says: As always, there is nothing rich people love more than eating fancy versions of white trash food. “It’s franks and beans, but the beans are imported from Tuscany and the franks are actually made from Japanese HegWu beef. Such whimsy! NINETY DOLLARS PER PIECE.” Every time a Brooklyn resident raves about “comfort food,” a coal miner from Appalachia is crushed in a landslide.
ITEM #23-5814488 – PORCHETTA ROAST
Copy: “Pork is rubbed with aromatics, then roasted using artisanal techniques.”
Drew says: Okay that looks fucking unreal. I’d trade my baby to eat that. You know how mob bosses hand out free turkeys at Thanksgiving in order to look like local heroes? They should hand out porchetta instead. “Sure, Fat Vinny took 15 percent of dad’s carpet sales, and he murdered my nephew, but look at how he gives back to the community! DIS IS A GUY WHO NEVER FUGGEDS HIS ROOTS (eats delicious pork fat).”
ITEM #23-5398297 – PRESENT CAKE
Copy: “Tender Dutch chocolate cake layered with cream cheese frosting. Cloaked in white fondant and topped with a picture perfect fondant ribbon.”
Drew says: Did you ever think yourself, “I wish I had a cake with a big red ribbon on it to match my new Lexus, which also has a big red ribbon on it”? Well, you’re in luck. Because now you and your horrible family can coordinate your dessert with your new luxury SUV. Finally, everything is PERFECT.
(Lexus Christmas jingle plays)
(Starving masses take up torches and pitchforks and storm your circular driveway)
ITEM #23-8978020 – WILLIAMS-SONOMA GOOD & EVIL BAR
Copy: “Inspired by the friendship of legendary French chef Eric Ripert and culinary rebel Anthony Bourdain, this premium 72% dark chocolate combines the pleasures of fair-trade organic cocoa with pure indulgence.”
Drew says: Et tu, Bourdain? I expect this sort of thing from Ina, but now you’ve joined forces with BIG CATALOG, too? Rebel, my ass. What happened to you, man? Did you know Tyler Florence is also selling crap in here, too? DID YOU? By law, you must now burn all of your Ramones t-shirts.
ITEM #23-7129203 – CARAMEL APPLES
Copy: “Choose one giant Fuji apple (serves 12-16) or four mini-Granny smith apples (serves 16).”
Drew says: Wait wait wait, hold up a second. How can ONE apple serve 16 people? How giant is this giant apple? Are we talking the size of my head? The size of a hippity hop? I refuse to believe that one goddamn apple can be neatly divided into 16 servings. And if it really can, then I want a Congressional inquiry into these monster apples. Perhaps Williams-Sonoma has genetically engineered their own patented kind of Giant Fuji apple that can orbit the goddamn sun. What’s to stop them from arming their jack-booted thugs with their mega-apples and crushing us all, forcing us into slave labor, doomed to hand-craft Moscow Mule mix 20 hours a day? I’m scared. Hold me. Protect me from the apple beasts.
ITEM #23-7244440 – MOTHERFUCKING TRUFFLE OIL
Price: $29.95, white or black
Copy: “Add earthy truffle flavor to eggs, pasta, risotto, even dessert.”
Drew says: Dessert? What the fuck? Anyway, if you’ve ever watched any cooking show, you know that truffle oil is liquid waste pressed directly from Satan’s stool sample. If you use truffle oil on ANY dish, Geoffrey Zakarian appears in a cloud of silver fog in your kitchen and slaps the living shit out of you. I can’t believe Williams-Sonoma sells this garbage and then encourages you to put it in your dessert. I would only make peppermint truffle bark as a mean prank. You people just lost a lot of credibility with me.
ITEM #23-5235432 – BREVILLE SMART OVEN AIR
Copy: “Roast up to a 14-lb. turkey… Everything you love about the original, now in a larger size.”
Drew says: You know what else would be good for roasting a 14-lb. turkey? An actual oven. I don’t need a crematorium on my counter. All I wanted was some toast.
ITEM #23-7811016 – FAKE CHRISTMAS TREE
Copy: “Come pre-lit with incandescent lights.”
Drew says: For $800, it better. It better come pre-lit, and it better also be a time machine… a time machine that takes me back to the halcyon days of 2015. Come gather round the solid platinum tree now, my dear friends. Let us make cheesy, scorching hot fondue and thank the Lord for everything that is still good in this world: silver antlers, very large pork roasts, minty toppings, JEFFREY. Even when things seem dark, please know that there will always be a light to guide you. It’s hand-carved from East African quartzite and costs $450, plus shipping.
Drew Magary is the author of The Hike, which makes a fine gift and is cheaper than anything in this catalog.