A hysterical post on Chowhound ('Tis the Season! — What's the WORST "perfect gift for a food-lover" you've ever received?) helps remind us all why those "I don't know you very well" gifts are so cluster-effingly fun. The following are actual items received by hounds:
The Jerky Shooter: It's like a caulking gun! That shoots out meat! "While widely imitated (using foreign components)," writes the maker of this fine product on its website, "we feel that our Jerky Shooter is the only product designed expressly for the purpose of extruding jerky." You know what, Jerky Shooter makers? I would have to agree with you on that one.
A dish soap bottle cozy: The lucky recipient of this gift did not specify who or what made it, but apparently this is a somewhat common item to craft. And really, why would you want that dish soap bottle hanging out for the world to see when you can wrap it in an apronlike thing, transforming it into a menacing headless, armless humanoid form?
Chocolate fountain: Poster Isolda, whose mom received one as a gift one year, says, "Well, she trotted that fountain out for one function and it was a nightmare. It's supposed to circulate melted chocolate (like a fondue), but the crumbs from the angel food cake and piece of fruit people dipped into it kept clogging it up, making it stall and just look generally nasty. Partway thru the party, she just unplugged the thing and threw it, chocolate and all, into the trash."
Marshmallow Rotisserie: This handy product was formerly sold for a jaw-dropping $40 at Hammacher Schlemmer. It's a battery-operated gizmo with three prongs so you can toast up to three marshmallows at once evenly. Who brings a battery over by an open fire? Who packs this kind of thing with their camping gear? Who the hell eats three marshmallows besides a six-year-old?
Popcorn-scented AMC gift cards: Yes, that's what a movie-lover wants, a plastic card stinking of ersatz movie popcorn, which, considering how stinky and fake-smelling movie popcorn is anyway, is meta-stink. You can put the cards in popcorn-scented bags as well. And bring some real popcorn and shove it right in the recipient's face. There! It's popcorn! You got it now?