Joey Green is a wacky guy. He puts Reddi-wip on his head. He cleans his clothes in Cheez Whiz. And he shaves with peanut butter (creamy, not chunky). And it all started with an advertising campaign for Nestea nearly 20 years ago.
"I got into all of this by accident," admits Green, who was working for a New York-based ad agency at the time. "We were asked to come up with alternative uses for Nestea, so they could sell more Nestea to the American public. I thought it was the dumbest thing I've ever been asked to do in my life.
"But lo and behold, I learned all sorts of strange things you can do with Nestea, including soothing sunburn pain by emptying a whole jar of Nestea into the bathtub, filling it with water, and soaking in it."
These days, Green is busy shining his shoes with A.1. steak sauce, decongesting chest colds with French's mustard, cleaning his toilet with Dr. Pepper, and making cat litter with copies of USA Today. Then he writes about it. He recently published his latest book, Joey Green's Amazing Kitchen Cures: 1,150 Ways to Prevent and Cure Common Ailments With Brand-Name Products, on the subject of, um, innovative uses for trademarked household items.
"I go shopping and pick out products we all know and love," says Green, who is appearing at the Home & Garden Show through Sunday. "Then I contact the companies to get all of their secret files."
And get this: The major manufacturers actually know all about these tips and tricks -- they even keep dossiers on their products' alternative uses, Green says -- but they don't want you to know about them. "Some of the companies [don't care] why people are buying their product, as long as they are buying it," he says. "But a lot of companies don't want you to know that you can clean a toilet with Coke, for example.
"Most of them are scared that someone's going to lose their hair with Jell-O and sue them."
Green says he rarely stumbles on these tips himself. Folks pass along their discoveries, and it's up to him to find out which ones are bogus. And like Consumer Reports, Green isn't supplied with free test items. But unlike Consumer Reports, it isn't because Green's ethical standards would preclude that. "I wish they would supply me with products," he says. "I'd have a lifetime supply of mustard."
So where else is there to go, once you've polished furniture with Spam and given yourself a facial with Cheerios? Anywhere, Green says. "American ingenuity is amazing."
Tell us about it later. We have a stuck zipper that needs to be lubricated with Chap Stick.