Oh! It’s you! My dearest, most refined holiday compatriot! My apologies, I didn’t see you were at the door.
[Puts down snifter]
[Gets up from satin armchair]
Come in, come in! I was just sitting by the fire, partaking of my nightly dram of Harveys Bristol Cream and reading fine George Eliot novels. What can I say? It’s my guilty pleasure. A ha! A ha a ha a ha a ha a HA!
My friend, you look pale. Are you all right? I hope the sight of my houseservant, Mrs. Barker, staring hauntingly at you from the upstairs window as you came up the driveway didn’t frighten you. She’s really quite lovely. We like to think of her as part of the family. Perhaps you’re worn down by your travels. Or, perhaps you’re frazzled by the fact that you now live in a surrealist dystopia where a cabal of sinister oligarchs have conspired to exploit racial, sexual, and socioeconomic angst in order to accelerate the fundamental inequality of the American economy and consolidate all wealth not merely among the 1 percent, but soon the 0.1 percent, and then the 0.01 percent, and then the 0.001 percent, until there are only, like, three people with money left in the world.
I’m sure that’s an unpleasant prospect for you. Would you care for a Valrhona fudge round? I ordered them personally.
I want you to do something for me. Do you think you can? I want you to come with me and tour my abode. Note the fresh cut boughs in the foyer I repurposed from our leftover 12-foot Douglas fir trimmings. Ogle the miniature Dickensian villages that I have tastefully arranged upon the mantelpiece, in order to evoke an age that seems more genteel but was in fact ridden with parasitic filth and bad English teeth. SAVOR THIS FINE CRANBERRY LOAF.
For you, dear reader, need not be troubled by the outside world. You’re here! In my stately home, which I have appointed for maximum holiday festivity thanks to the WILLIAMS-SONOMA CATALOG. Reader, it is the holiday tome perhaps dearest to my heart. More than any reindeer parable or silly children’s rhyme, it is THIS catalog and its splendidly useless items wherein you and I can discover the TRUE meaning of Christmas, which is that it delays the pain and horrors of this shit world at least until after New Year’s.
Don’t you see? While this catalog may look like a talisman of yuppie waste, designed to lure in aspirational marks who have already ceded to living the bulk of their lives in monstrous, crippling debt … I’m here to tell you this catalog is THERAPY. It is an escape. It is the way we cope with things here. And really, isn’t that better than actually fixing anything wrong with the world? I say yes.
So come. Sit with me now, on my Pottery Barn loveseat. Do you like it? Don’t tell anyone it’s not suede but rather MICROFIBER. Let’s thumb through these delightful pages together, shall we? It’ll make the decline of Western Civilization go down so much easier for you. OH THE TIME WE’LL HAVE!
ITEM #36-5988662 – TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS NUT BOWL
Copy: “Add the latest design to complete your holiday keepsake collection with our new Snowman original artwork … decorative scalloped rims!”
Drew says: “Decorative scalloped rims” is easily the porniest phrase I’ve ever seen used in this catalog, and that goes for the entire Screwpull section as well. Please note that if you put ANYTHING other than nuts in your decorative nut bowl, whatever is inside turns to poison and everyone in the house dies. I don’t make the rules. I just hide them from you.
Fair warning to any nut allergy sufferers: the nut bowl may contain traces … of nut.
ITEM #36-7729705 – BOSKA FONDUE SETS
Price: $399.95 (for the “Mr. Big” model)
Copy: “The Boska legacy began in 1896 in Bodegraven, Holland, a small town near gouda, the capital of Dutch cheese. Here, blacksmith Willem Bos began crafting iron tools to help local dairy farmers, combining his love for cheese with innovative craftsmanship. Now his great-great-grandson Martijn Bos continues Boska’s mission to show the world how to enjoy the right cheese with the right tools.”
Drew says: I don’t believe any of that story. I don’t believe there’s a town called Bodegraven, and I don’t believe there was ever a humble cheese-eating blacksmith named Willem von Clausgoldmember or whatever who sat on a forge all day banging out fondue forks out of LOVE. Those are all lies to try and get people to make fondue happen again.
You listen to me, Williams-Sonoma: There will NEVER be a fondueassaince. Ever. You can bring back a lot of things from the 1980s—tube tops, keyboards, a horrifying governmental indifference to the poor—but the fondue STAYS. Was enjoying cheese really a problem for the general population before Dutch boy here forged his first cheese broadsword? I don’t recall picking up a hunk of parmesan reggiano and being like, “Boy, if only I had the RIGHT TOOLS to enjoy this! Oh well! Into the garbage it goes, I reckon!”
ITEM #36-1046205 – WILLIAMS SONOMA WINE AERATOR
Copy: “Aerates and filters wine as your pour. No decanting required.”
Drew says: Okay, but if no decanting is required, why is there a decanter on sale for $62.99 right above it? What kinda hustle you guys pulling? Keep in mind that they sold an aerator WITH a decanter last year, and so now I’m completely spun around. Do I aerate? Do I decant? Do I aerate and decant? Or do I hold my glass of wine up the light and swirl it majestically and cry out to the table, “THE TANNINS! I HAVE GIVEN THE TANNINS LIFE AND YOU SHALL KNEEL BEFORE ME IN THEIR GLORY!!!!”? I just want some guidance.
ITEM #36-2999162 – PINEAPPLE COCKTAIL PICKS
Copy: “Great for garnishes; include six picks and a storage caddy.” Please note the callout on the page says you only get four picks, not six. WHICH IS IT?!
Drew says: Not to do the sticker shock routine with you yet again, but selling a half-dozen toothpicks for 50 bucks takes balls the size of pineapples. The storage caddy is killing me. “Hey, here’s some garbage to get in the way of drinking your cocktail, along with a place to store that garbage.” Who has room in their home for a fucking toothpick caddy?
This is lunacy. I enjoy speared fruit as much as the next cocktail party guest, but you don’t have to wow me. Gimme one of those little plastic swords and I’m perfectly content. I will absolutely stage tiny swordfights with my brother using those little things. That’s garnish enough. You don’t need to go the full Tiffany with these.
ITEM #36-5200261 – TRISHA YEARWOOD CHRISTMAS IN A CUP
Copy: “Vibrant mix of cherry, pomegranate, and citrus.”
Drew says: Excuse me, I was told NO COUNTRY SHIT in my catalog. This is strictly WASP territory, Trisha. You’re out of your element. Go peddle your Christmas in cup back in Arkansas or whatever. Vibrant mix, my ass. A real hillbilly Christmas in a cup is just a roasted squirrel, a packet of raw grits, and a copy of the Duck Dynasty Christmas album (which really exists and is literally titled Duck The Halls) all whizzed up in a blender.
ITEM #36-4468190 – GOLD MONOGRAMMED DOUBLE OLD FASHIONED GLASS
Price: $11.96 each
Copy: “Hand-applied gold rim and gold letter decal.”
Drew says: Busting out the monogrammed shit is such a boss move. Oh, would you like a drink? BEHOLD!
[blinds you with a giant M in gold leaf]
That M stands for Magary. That’s my booze tumbler and don’t you ever forget it. You drink out of it at my pleasure.
ITEM #36-4003893 – LATKE STARTER
Copy: “Simply add grated potatoes and an egg to create savory, crisp potato pancakes.”
Drew says: Is this a thing? Do people generally need latke starters? I’m making a potato pancake, not a tub of yogurt. How does this aid the latke-making process at all? “Simply add eggs, cream, cheese, and ham to our omelet starter for delicious REAL EGG FLAVOR.” This will make a PERFECT gift for Mrs. Barker.
And please note how casually they toss out the “Simply add grated potatoes.” You ever grate a potato? It SUCKS. The potato gets all slippery and there’s that weird film of foamy Santorum dirt on it. Even with potato gloves, it sucks heavy pineapples. Don’t think you can get away with casually dismissing MINUTES of agonizing kitchen labor, Williams-Sonoma. You’re dealing with a pro here.
ITEM #36-2400815 – SALTED PEPPERMINT BARK
Price: $52.95 for two pounds
Copy: “Our original Peppermint Bark with a sprinkling of Jacobsen pure flake sea salt.”
Drew says: You already know that peppermint bark is by far the most popular item in this catalog (and with good reason …it’s unreasonably tasty even at that price). Indeed, the peppermint bark basically covers for all the other loss leaders in this stupid thing, like the Dutch cheese oven. That is why they now sell 200 different ancillary bark items to go with the original: bites, bars, lollipops, cookies, ashtrays, monster trucks, and such and such. And that is why you can get bark that has been co-opted by the salted dessert craze. I will only accept Jacobsen or Maldon salt on my bark. Anything else gets fed to the deer.
ITEM #36-5475236 – MISCHIEF & MERRY TRUFFLES
Copy: “‘Naughty’ dark chocolate filled with hot buttered rum and ‘Nice’ milk chocolate filled with vanilla ganache.”
Drew says: OOOOH OHHHH! Williams-Sonoma! [kitten purring sounds] This is a side of you I’ve never seen before, you saucy minxes! Never did I think an overpriced box of chocolate could be so EROTIC. And here I thought it was the Victoria’s Secret catalog that made for the highest quality retail boner fuel.
ITEM #36-7948623 – SNOWMAN MARSHMALLOW FLOATERS
Price: $12.95 for a dozen
Copy: “Add our latest marshmallows and mug toppers for a festive treat”
Drew says: We’ve covered the wild price inflation that BIG MALLOW has inflicted upon consumers here in the past. WHY SO CREWEL? But there’s also the fact that you will never get me to put something called a “floater” in my drink. I will be forever amused by the fact that the brand managers at WS probably all gathered together in a conference room and were like, “Hey, what should we call our artisanal marshmallows that have been crafted with cane sugar and cage-free egg whites? How about FLOATERS? Nothing says Christmas like a big, hot, chocolatey floater! Does that work for everyone? Why is Ned laughing?”
ITEM #36-5184754 – BAY LEAF WREATH & GARLAND WITH TARTAN RIBBON
Price: $79.95 (garland sold separately)
Copy: “Our iconic handcrafted Bay Leaf Wreath …For a festive touch, try it in Tartan!”
Drew says: Oh I will. Anyway, I am awed by the fact that someone, at long last, found an actual use for bay leaves. Any home chef knows that bay leaves are yard garbage that are used primarily to put into soups so that you have to fish them out later. It’s very fun. But HUZZAH! Turns out that you can maximize bay leaf efficiency by tacking a handful of them to a door instead.
I am going to buy this wreath, dry the leaves by hand, individually bottle five of them at a time, and then sell them for a hefty profit. And there’s nothing the honchos at BIG SPICE can do about it! EAT IT, MCCORMICK FAMILY! I am coming for all your spicy riches.
ITEM #36-4554197 – COOKIE DECORATING TOOL
Copy: “For precise designs.”
Drew says: In the grand tradition of Williams-Sonoma baking artillery, I give you the frosting pistol. I know that you can achieve roughly the same precision cookie piping with a five-dollar pastry bag or one of those little icing tubes that I often confuse for the Blistex (my most delicious of mistakes), but fuck all that. I WANNA BE ARMED WITH SUGARY DEATH. The only thing stopping a bad man with a cookie is a good man with a big honkin’ icing revolver.
As always, Williams Sonoma’s goal in selling you high end dessert firearms is so you can win your cookie swap. For the non-WASPS reading this, a cookie swap is when a bunch of suburban ladies get together, trade cookies, and then take those cookies home and silently judge one another’s character solely based on cookie quality. Oh wow, Dara Jones-Shedd made shortbread. Again. REAL FUCKING RISKTAKER, THAT ONE. Oooh, what are these chocolate things Ann Pelty made? Man, they’re better than my cookies. That bitch … that bitch is gonna burn.
ITEM #36-3392672 – NORDICWARE NUTCRACKER CAKELET PAN
Copy: “New & exclusive! Individually sized nutcracker cakelets!”
Drew says: Yes, because why ruin one cake when you can ruin SEVERAL very small dwarf cakes all at once? Look at this goddamn cakelet. It’s preposterous. What are the odds you will be able to successfully stand a cake up like that? A million to one? I put better odds on the Browns winning the Super Bowl this year. Nutcracker man’s eyebrow frosting is gonna bleed down his face and end up looking like a Kabuki death mask. It’s gonna scare the dog. Everything about this photo is a lie.
ITEM #36-5482505 – SIX MONTHS OF CHEESE
Price: $299.95, plus $40 delivery
Copy: “For dedicated cheese enthusiasts”
Drew says: You better be at that price, holy shit. I like cheese as much as the next heart attack candidate but when I pay $300 for six months of cheese, that better amount to 9,000 pounds of cheese. I want a truck parked outside and tubes of liquid cheddar on tap in my basement. If you’re just sending me a stupid cheese platter every four weeks, that’s not acceptable to me. That is not six TRUE months of cheese. To me, six months of cheese means I can strip naked and tape the windows shut and live off that cheese for half the year, shutting myself in like a heroin addict. I don’t give a shit if Farmer Merle aged it in coffee and beeswax. I want quantity, otherwise I consider the Boska legacy sullied.
ITEM #5337408 – PLUM
Copy: “Virtual sommelier on your countertop”
Drew says: I do not know what this mystery wine box does but the aerator above was $30, which seems more practical. Can I just open my wine and fucking drink it, please? I don’t need it reversed carbonated and liqui-tilled.
ITEM #36-3772639 – BEEF WELLINGTON COMPLETE DINNER
Copy: “‘My husband and I ordered these Beef Wellingtons for Christmas Eve and served them to my parents. They were a big hit! Crust was flaky and meat was great.’ – Jema, WI”
Drew says: Well, Jema, if that is your REAL name, you are a cheater. Are your parents happy that they gave life to a fraud? Ordering dinner is for the lazy and weak. True Christmassians know that the only way to prepare Christmas dinner is to make it yourself, from scratch, spending nearly as much money at the store as you would have to have someone else do it, slaving in the kitchen all day long, constantly fretting over whether or not the oven has enough space to keep everything hot simultaneously, yelling at your kids because they decided to have a paintball fight right IN the kitchen, and then silently hating yourself once the meat turns out medium instead of a perfect medium rare. That is the proper way of doing things. Go hang your head in SHAME. Oh, I’ll eat your little filet mignon turnover, but don’t expect me to be IMPRESSED.
ITEM #36-3914728 – PRIME RIB
Copy: “Generously marbled for exceptional flavor and tenderness.”
Drew says: Fuck that looks good. I would marry the bones.
ITEMS #6853043-8297835 – THE SMEG KITCHEN
Price: $129.95 to $459.95
Copy: “Surprise cooks with gifts that combine SMEG’s iconic midcentury style with convenient modern features … Designed in collaboration with some of the world’s top architects, SMEG appliances bring clean midcentury sophistication to your kitchen countertop.”
Drew says: I’m dying. SMEG. They put SMEG in huge letters across every one of these appliances, with no inkling at all that SMEG is two letters away from being foreskin cheese. It’s killing me that they herded Frank Gehry or whoever into a design lab and had them fetishize a toaster and then they were like, “SMEG! That’s a good name! Nothing says tasty like SMEG! We can make hot cocoa in our SMEG machine and then drop a floater in it!”
ITEM #4818165 – FORTNUM & MASON KING’S HAMPER
Copy: “Give an English holiday tradition with limited edition offerings from Fortnum & Mason, from deluxe hampers to fine teas.”
Drew says: Please note that, in an upset, they actually do put things INTO your royal hamper. You even get a free mug. Not two though. That would be too generous.
Anyway, I did not know it was an English tradition to gift each other wicker hampers filled with jams and biscuits and other weird crap. I just picture Prince Philip sitting in Buckingham Palace at Christmastime, with a big frowny face, stomping his feet and being like WHERE IS MY HAMPER?! God, I hope someone gave him one filled with dirty underwear. Prince Philip is a dick.
ITEM #5739995 – ROCCBOX PIZZA OVEN
Copy: “[T]he world’s first portable stone-floored oven. It reaches 930 degrees in just 15 minutes. Includes both wood burner and convenient gas burner.”
Drew says: Does anything about that pizza droid strike you as portable or convenient? This is the kind of shit you buy if you’re one of those insufferable yuppie couples featured in Bon Appétit magazine because they have endless disposable income to spend on rustic eating and wine glasses the size of a small moon. “Lars Turddsen is Seattle’s hottest chard purveyor. His partner, Lisa Gong, knits cat fur. And together, they throw the BEST parties, inviting dozens of friends to the top of a local boulder for batch cocktails, squash blossoms, and homemade lingonberry pies! But bring your sleeping bag! THESE PARTIES GO WAY LATE!” [12-page photo spread of people laughing next to a plate of beef]
The entire home pizzamaking industry is a bottomless hole of pricey pizza ovens and pizza stones and pizza steels and pizza grave slabs. Is it worth all that trouble and expense when you go could go to Pepe’s? Reader, it is not. Buy a nut bowl instead.
ITEM #4415944 – TREEKEEPER ADJUSTABLE ORNAMENT KEEPER
Copy: “Stow ornaments of all shapes and sizes in one protective container.”
Drew says: Actually that sounds kinda useful. Normally we store our ornaments in, like, a big hat box. Every year I open it up and discover, to my horror, that the glass unicorn ornament was crushed by my Eric Cartman ornament. LOL, Cartman. [Cartman voice] HEY SCREW YOU GUYS!
ITEM #5504829 – JURA Z6 AUTOMATIC COFFEE MACHINE
Copy: “Special value! Save $1,200!” Jesus. “Revolutionary Pulse Extraction Process technology optimizes extraction time to produce the perfect espresso. Choose from 10 different brew strengths!”
Drew says: I don’t know what 90 percent of that sentence means but for $3,700 that fucker better extract more than just coffee. It better dispense, like, bitcoins. As long as mankind exists, he will continually strive to find new and innovative ways to make coffee more expensive than it ever needs to be. Just go to a fucking diner. Whatever the top brew strength is, it better turn me into Spider-Man.
This is the most expensive item in this year’s catalog, presumably because they once again, to my chagrin, left out the chicken coops. And not only do the good folks at W-S presume you have a Tesla down payment to spend on a coffeemaker, but they routinely assume that you have more available space on your countertop than the totality of the Chesapeake Bay coastline. You can accommodate the ginormous espresso robot, along with bread machines and rice machines and machines will produce a perfect single potato pancake and literally nothing else (use the starter!). For the richest of the rich shall not be appeased until the whole world is their countertop, and you and I and the rest of the common folk are shoved aside and cast into dumpsters like so many discarded cakelets … all to make room for, like, a mystery wine box thing. And all of it will be a tax write-off for them because that is the world we live in now. I just hope I get a taste of that prime rib before I shuffle off it.