Shark Tank – Season 5, Episode 511 – Live Blog and Discussion

We’re back with a brand new episode and the same old over-confident presenters with bizarre niche ideas being challenged on their number-crunching by people in overpriced wardrobes and scripted personalities.

This evening we will hear pitches from a former Cleveland Browns lineman who has patented a process to remove the bones from baby-back ribs that then take only two minutes to cook in the microwave and probably taste like it; someone who thinks detachable Mohawks for kids’ safety helmets is an idea whose time has come; and another person offering up a reality interface for video gamers. I have no idea what that last thing is.

Countdown to Mr. Wonderful pasting the detachable Mohawk to his bald pate and leering at the camera.

First up is “a fashionable way to bring out your inner animal,” says the voiceover guy. Spirithoods is a company run by two frat boys who are “about community, self-expression, and having a good time.” In other words, they go to the bar a lot. The product is a fake-fur animal-print hood-hat plus scarf that looks like something you’d wear to appear in an elementary school production of The Lion King. But Bill and Ted are raking in the money, charging an astonishing $99 for what is basically a few pairs of bunny slippers stitched together. They’ve even won the Peta Libby Award for Best Animal-friendly Clothing Company, despite the fact that even reptiles are humiliated by the existence of these shmattas. The product is so fabulous, claim the boys, that people have tattooed the logo on their bodies. I submit this says more about the tat-getters than the Spirithoods.

But as the Sharks delve more deeply into their finances, it becomes apparent that business is slacking off. They also point out the short-lived faddishness of the hoods–except, perhaps, for those shnooks with the tats–and everyone starts bailing. Claims that assorted Kardashians and a litany of one-named musical celebrities have worn the surely sweaty acrylic headgear moves no one. Daymond throws out a wild offer of a 50% stake to license the product out and immediately diversify the brand, since the hats will be old hat faster than you can say “AMC Pacer.” Still wearing their petroleum-based leopard and bear hoods, the two guys move into the hallway to discuss the offer, which looks like a meeting of Fred and Barney at the Water Buffaloes Lodge. No deal is forged, though. Please donate to the Sierra Club to prevent extinction of the Spirithoods.

Next we see some footage of Mark and Daymond purportedly advising minority entrepreneurs at some feel-good conference where you know they just sat in a VIP room and signed autographs all day. The show’s casting producers are also there to check out potential Shark bait. Hooray for the American Dream, which means anybody, regardless of race, creed, color, or lack of dignity, can appear on a reality show.

Time now to be transferred to an alternate reality. Virtuix’s owner has created Omni, a kind of treadmill that you use with a special belt, Tron glasses, and sneakers as you play a video game to seem to be inside it in three dimensions! And also to appear really foolish to onlookers. But it’s a virtual reality revolution that should appeal to a broad demographic of reddit posters and socially inept recluses. Robert tries it out, leaping around on the little treadmill and shooting wildly with the accompanying machine gun, because no one ever designs a video game where you attempt to paint like one of the Old Masters or play a relaxing game of croquet. “You’re back in Croatia,” says Mr. Wonderful gleefully. Daymond points out that fat neckbeard types won’t like that the system requires physical effort.

The guy is seeking $2 million for a 20% stake. The Sharks are dubious. Babs thinks the treadmill is too bulky and space-consuming in the home, so wives won’t like it. It’s empowering how her success has made her cognizant of the scourge of sexism that still exists in our culture. Mr. Wonderful just thinks it’s a crappy investment. Mark is out, too, noting that some fabulous new technology will elbow this Omni thing off the market before you can say “8-track tape.” Probably it’ll be when someone invents a virtual reality that includes snacks for all those lazy overweight gamers. So Virtuix goes home virtually empty-handed.

Another set of two moms–it’s always two moms–from New Jersey–it’s frequently New Jersey–arrive next, armed with a bunch of cute kids wearing their safety helmet accessories. Fohawx! (yes, with the exclamation point) are floppy foam-rubber decorations you stick on the top of your helmet with a self-adhesive. They look like waves or Mohawks or Carrot Top without product, and cost an insane $20, considering a semi-coherent chimp could produce one if he had an account at Michael’s and some velcro. The Sharks insist there is nothing new or compelling about this product, or about over-involved suburban mothers who invest too much time worrying about the cuteness of their kids’ protective headwear. The moms shrill that they are wrong. But their sales are very low. Arguing ensues. Babs lectures them about letting their passion blind them to the truth. I wish her hairstylist would tell her the same thing. One mom shrieks, “The market wants this!”  You just know she demands the local Whole Foods reduce the price of an avocado with a scratch on its skin. One by one, the disgusted Sharks pass. Out in the hall, the moms deliver the equivalent of the “As God is my witness” speech, and carry on to hopefully design more than three lousy versions of Fohawx!

Here comes former football player Al “Bubba” Baker, whose passion is barbecue. He’s switched his focus from pigskin to pigmeat. After leaving football, he opened a BBQ restaurant into which he’s plunged all his money, so everything is riding on his boneless ribs concept. The idea grew out of his belief that the bones are what make ribs messy to eat, because the half-cup of dark, sticky sauce dousing every serving is so easy to clean up. His lovely daughter is there to prepare the product in the microwave and reveal to everyone the miracle that is de-boned ribs. Bubba flourishes his patents for the process, which took him 20 years to figure out. A lot of pigs had to die for you to enjoy ribs cooked in the microwave.  Mr. Wonderful says a patent on a food product is something new, so he’s interested–but he wants 49% for a $300,000 investment, the snake. Daymond says he’ll offer the same figure, but for 30%. Robert, Babs, and Mark are out. They have no heart for ribs. Bubba goes with Daymond. They hug, and wow, Bubba is enormous. Now the world can enjoy the non-messy miracle that is de-boned ribs, disappointing dogs everywhere.

And never have I typed the word “bone” so often in such a short period.


About E.M. Rosenberg 240 Articles
Favorite 40-volume series issued by Time-Life Music: Sounds of the Seventies. Favorite backsplash material: Subway tile. Favorite screen legend I pretend wasn’t gay: Cary Grant. Favorite issue you should not even get me started about: Venal, bloodsucking insurance industry. Favorite character from the comic strip “Nancy”: Sluggo, or maybe Rollo. Favorite Little Debbie snack: Nutty Bars. Favorite Monkee: Mike.