As Seen on TV products not just on TV anymore

Creating an infomercial today is not much different from pitching products on boardwalks and fairgrounds a hundred years ago. But where hucksters once aimed to fill every outstretched hand with a bottle of tonic, modern pitchmen hope to fill -- their flapping lips to God's ear -- every Walmart and CVS with Topsy Turvy Tomato Planters, Perfect Brownie Pans, Shake Weights and other As Seen On TV products.

Today, infomercials are the means, and retail is the end. For every unit sold through a telephone operator standing by, three-to-10 are sold in retail stores, according to the Electronic Retailing Association, which represents the $50 billion "direct response" industry.