The wacky world of Amazon product suggestions

• ~600 words • 3 minute read

One of my favorite things about Amazon, besides that fact that it's run by a border-line crazy person who seems to have little interest in actually turning a profit, is the Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought  and the Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed carousels that shows up at the bottom of most product pages. Sometimes it's useful when you're looking for the best deal on a particular object, like a unique cable or adapter, or need to explore the variety of products available within a certain topic ((  That's how I went from a simple search for "sanding paper" to a Micro-Mesh Pen Sanding Kit for my guitar picks some years ago.))

Other times though it's a slightly disturbing peek into the consumerist psyche. My personal favorite was looking up ski masks and balaclavas. In addition to the many brands available for such a product I noticed some interesting associations: novelty money bags with giant dollar-sings on them, fake 14k-gold "hip-hop teeth," BB guns, handcuffs and Guy Fawkes masks.

face-mask-also-bought-1 Amazon_com__5504Black_Face_Mask__Clothing Amazon_com__5504Black_Face_Mask__Clothing 4

This got me to thinking: what's the craziest list of associated products I could find on Amazon?

Scorpion Suckers are a good start. In addition to being a fairly strange product in their own right ((As something of an amateur entomophagist I feel a blog post dedicated to edible insects you can buy on Amazon coming, someday.)) you'll find bacon-flavored toothpaste, a wild-game jerky sampler and a variety of flavored crickets.

Tex the Armadillo Beverage Holder might win the award for most incongruous selection of recommendations. A $240+ executive chair, a pool cue, a somewhat-expected-but-still-surprising array of armadillo figurines, a flatware set and a 4-pack of super-plus tampons.

But then I revisited the ski mask and started noting a more sinister, post-apocalyptic survivalist bent to some of the product suggestions.

If you want to start dipping your toes into the crazy waters I suggest taking a peek at the Israeli Civilian Gas Mask with Nato Filter. In the also-bought list you'll see tablets for potable drinking water, magnesium fire starters, potassium iodide tablets for radiation, SWAT vests, tactical helmets and — my personal favorite — the Patriot Pantry Emergency Survival Food Supply.

Curiously, these carousels appear absent from The Anarchist Cookbook, something I might speculatively attribute to the book's controversial history, though maybe there's a more obvious reason?

Let's go full-blown paranoid crazy now and look at the UTG Tactical Scenario Vest and see what other products we find associated.  Pistol and rifle holsters galore; a Don't Tread On Me patch; more tactical helmets; your standard-issue Secret Agent Tactical Ninja Sword  ((Though one reviewer panned it as "not a trust-worthy sword" another said it was invaluable to his or her job as both a secret agent and a tactical ninja.)), heavy-duty handcuffs and... BBs and paintball guns.

Oh wait a second... Did I just stumble across the buying habits of paintball subculture? I think I might have. That's simultaneously a little disappointing and big relief.

Finding weird product associations on Amazon could be its own online sport, like Googlewhacking, or at least be worthy of a poorly-maintained Tumblr blog. A good approach is to look for products that are likely to have never been purchased very many times. What you end up seeing looks pretty random based on a very small sample-size of carts.

Oh shit guys we have a winner. The simply titled Corrugated Coffin by Rubie's Costumes. What's intended to be a simple stage prop (I think) also offers the following product suggestions: Two naughty policewoman uniforms, Amish handmade honey,  an audio CD with such a horrid title and cover I'm terrified to link to it or mention it by name, a Jolly Rancher's candle, a book on how to hypnotize yourself, a book of erotica involving Osama Bin Laden's ghost, non-slip organic-cotton socks and...

A Nicholas Cage pillowcase.

I think I'm done.