5 Odd Things You Can Buy : The Protojournalist A consumer's guide to dinosaur poop and roadside trash.
NPR logo 5 Odd Things You Can Buy

5 Odd Things You Can Buy

For the person who has everything — or maybe wants everything — we go Windows-shopping at Why I'm Broke, a portal to outrageous gift ideas. There we find links to a $2 million personal submarine, a $3,500 Nintendo Controller coffee table and a $42 golf club that dispenses drinks.

Not satisfied with the first-world excess of the collection, we delve deeper into the caverns of consumerism and discover five more odd things you can buy, if you — and your disposable income — are so disposed.


  • 1. Zonkey

    A zonkey Rarity Acres hide caption

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    Rarity Acres

    A cross between a zebra and a donkey, the zonkey is advertised as very friendly. "With the right handling she can be trained to ride or drive ... similar to training a mule," according to Rarity Acres in Kalamazoo, Mich.

  • 2. Roadside Trash

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    Roadside trash


    Before there was eBay, wherever did we find ridiculously brilliant items like the collection of "Roadside Trash Litter Between SE Washington and NE Oregon" and gag cans of dehydrated water that comedian Steven Wright would love?

  • 3. Coprolite

    Coprolite Barney's Rocks hide caption

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    Barney's Rocks

    Some will argue that fossilized dinosaur poop is not a frivolous purchase. And we won't argue with them. But it's still an odd pursuit, even for paleontologists.

  • 4. Larvets

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    Candy Crate

    Advertised as "real edible worms," these snacks come in several flavors, including barbecue and cheddar cheese.

  • 5. Ocean Water

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    Sure, people with tropical-fish aquariums need saltwater, but the idea of buying something as uberplentiful as ocean water seems akin to buying night wind or summer rain or falling leaves.

Many frothy purchases, says Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist at Golden Gate University, "are purchased to elicit an emotional response from another person. It could be a bonding laugh, attention or admiration."

And though most of the items listed above are extreme, she says, "the quest for human connection is part of most of the things that people buy. These aren't my particular taste, but I bet there are a few things I've purchased that others would scratch their heads about — like a box with a trout on it for my fisherman friend who has everything."

The Protojournalist: A sandbox for reportorial innovation. @NPRtpj