You Are What You Antique

My Farrell recollections (see previous post) came to me while watching Antique Roadshow the other evening. I presume you’re familiar with Antique Roadshow. It’s that program on PBS where a bunch of people from the Dakotas bring their junk to a big convention and a Antique Roadshow expert will look at it and drone on and on for a hundred minutes about how the brand of lacquer on the frame was only used in 1867, and finally he announces that this particular hunk of useless would probably fetch “in the two thousand to three thousand range,” and the owner gasps and says “rilly?” half a dozen times before announcing that, while she no idea it was worth so much, she would never dream of selling it because it’s been in the family for years, but later, after taking it home and deliberation for three days, she lists it on Ebay, whereupon someone from the other Dakota buys it for thirty-five bucks. That program.

Anyway, I was watching Antique Roadshow and doing what I always do — namely, wondering why the hell I was watching Antique Roadshow — when someone got an appraisal on some Ye Olde Tymey Ice Cream Parlour paraphernalia, and, bang, just like that I was thinking about Farrell’s. One of the greatest things about Farrell’s was their “Pig’s Trough,” a two-bananas, six-ice-cream-scoop sundae so large that, if you finished it, the entire Farrell’s staff would come out and sing a song about what a pig you were. It was every kid’s dream to one day earn the Pig’s Trough ribbon of completion.

Now that Farrell’s is out of business, I think Antique Roadshow should adopt the “Pig’s Trough” model. I mean, occasionally someone must bring in worthless crap, and they desperately need to do something to break up the monotony of that show.

Appraiser: … and, see this shoddy worksmanship? You don’t see that kind of indifference to quality until the late 20th century. I’d estimate this was made in 1977, maybe early 1976.

Owner: Oh …

Appraiser: It’s also worth noting that the “up” button doesn’t work at all, and the lower switch is permanently jammed in the “Pro 2″ position.

Owner: Yeah …

Appraiser: Taken as a whole, I’d estimate this Mattel handheld electronic football game would sell somewhere in the neighborhood of nothing whatsoever.

Owner: Aw, nuts.

Appraiser: But, I’m willing to make you a special Antique Roadshow offer. If you can eat the entire thing in one sitting, we will give you this huge and ridiculous-looking blue ribbon.

Owner: I’ll take it!

{Forty-three minutes later.}

Owner: I can’t do it … I can’t …

Appraiser: C’mon now. Just one more swallow.

Owner: I can’t …

{Owner swallows. Antique Roadshow staff members spring from everywhere, clapping and singing.}

Antique Roadshow Staff: Oh, he’s a certain special someone! Oh, he’s just so darned unique! He’s a piggy, piggy, piggy! And he ate his whole antique!

* * *

23 comments.

  1. Thank you. Thank you so much. First laugh today.

  2. Yeah, THAT show! I would actually watch that show if your version was aired. As it is it’s hands-down the most tedious, boring non-political show in history.

  3. This I think is a version of a BBC programme with roughly the same name. I agree it’s a fairly tedious idea for a programme apart from one aspect. It’s what I like to think of as the ‘Collector Let Down’. A smug freak with an entirely random obsession brings in his enormous collection of hideous tat for the whole world to gawp at in the mistaken impression that someone (perhaps everyone) will consider him some kind of reclusive genius sitting on a vast fortune. The smug ‘expert’ (and all the British experts are particularly smug) then spends 10 minutes detailing the tat and when and where it was produced, building up the poor misguided collectors ego, until delivering the final payoff somewhere along the lines of “it’s worthless crap, but thanks for giving up a whole day, and probably most of your life to come down here with the crap and give us all a break from looking at stuff which is actually worth anything.”

    BTW Even though I’m English and a lot of the references on this site are American it’s still a pleasure to read

  4. Eat the pig! Eat the pig! Ziggy ziggy ziggy zig!

  5. I only barely remember Farrell’s in San Francisco.

    I think the PBS version of Antiques Roadshow should let any person whose item was appraised demand a check for the estimated value from the show, on the spot. On the game shows, they don’t tell the contestant “your talent is estimated to be worth $25k,” they give them the actual money, less taxes, so this show should do similar.

  6. “Owner: I’ll take it!”

    Ha. I always thought it would be hilarious if after the appraisers gave the estimated worth of the antique, the person shouted “I’ll take it!!”.
    The look on the appraisers face as they held out their hand expectantly would be priceless.

  7. I think I have seen the PBS vesrion of this show as well as the BBC version. TLC has a version as well, I think it is called “Crap in the attic” or something like that.

  8. Founder Bob Farrell is a motivational speaker and has the most awesomest web site ever:
    http://giveemthepickle.com/

  9. R. Kelly’s next album will be called ‘Crap in the Attic’.

  10. Completely unrelated to the above (amusing) post: congrats on the McSweeney’s list today!

  11. Aha my friend, but not all the Farrell’s are extinct. There just so happens to be the very last one in existence a mere hop, skip and a coronary away from me right this very minute in San Diego.

    You can still get the trough and you can still be a pig. They, however, have taken down the whore-house wall paper. Can’t have everything.

  12. How about a “Deal or….No Deal” version of the Antique Roadshow. The appraiser would start to name the price to insure the item for, and the phone would ring. They would offer to buy the item for say $500. DEAL…or….nodeal? They would consult with all those people standing around, then they would say…NO DEAL and giggle uncontrollably from all the attention. The appraiser would then tell them that it’s a piece of junk.

    Next contestant! His name is David and he has a vintage ice cream scoop from 1984, supposedly used by Farrel himself! Lets play…. DEAL OR NO DEAL!!!

  13. Dude, You have to get out of the house more. “put down the remote and no one gets hurt”

  14. I LOVED Farrell’s. I live in Sacramento and every time we went to the Sunrise Mall my mom, Grandma & I would have lunch there. I’d get a cherry coke, the kind with 2 inches of cherry syrup at the bottom. Mmmmm. And for my 2nd birthday party a family friend bought me a dish called the Zoo. This was a scoope of every flavor ice cream they had with a small plastic animal stuck in the middle. Sounds like a good idea for a two year old’s birthday, huh? Anyway, I remember the pictures all over the wall of kids and the Pig Trough. My mom wouldn’t let me have it. I’m still a little bitter.

  15. What do you expect from PBS’s version of a game show?

  16. Hailing from South Dakota, I take umbrage at the suggestion I’d buy North Dakotan cast-offs!

  17. Antiques Roadshow isn’t so bad, except it gives hope to the little old ladies who live in my city to rent booths at the local antique mall and sell all their worthless junk. Makes it hard to find a decent old chair!

    Does anyone remember in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” when Napoleon ate all that ice cream? The employees at the ice cream place sang a piggy song and gave him a pig nose? Excellent!

  18. Just to let you know, there’s at least one Farrell’s still in existence. It’s in San Diego, in the Mira Mesa community:
    10606 Camino Ruiz # 10
    San Diego, 92126
    (858) 578-9895

    Huh… and I guess also in Santa Clarita, CA
    http://www.farrellsusa.com/

  19. I have recently been to the Farrell’s in Santa Clarita as part of a friend’s birthday wish to recapture her youth by subjecting all of her friends to a tasteless meal followed by overpriced ice cream that wasn’t NEARLY as cool as it was when we were kids. And did I mention the overpriced videogames and the cheesy skee-ball prizes?

  20. Remember the Farrell’s creation called The Portland Zoo? It was spiked with all these tiny plastic animals that you hoped you could avoid swallowing and choking on. Man, those were the days!

  21. My name is Farrel.
    Thing only thing in life I wanted was to go to a Farrell’s.
    When I did I got sang to for free.

    It’s all been downhill since then.

  22. It is most amusing to read your version of how the ARS could work. What a hoot! Creating the title graphics sequence was one of the few jobs I’ve done which I can pretty much guarantee seeing on some channel or other anywhere on the planet nearly any day of the week.

    Wacky times…

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