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October 11, 2019

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Today, people are buying some weird stuff, and searching for haunted homes just got a little less rough, but first…

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Big businesses roll out the yoga mat for mental health campaigns

As the wellness movement takes hold, major companies are taking steps to get their business strategies in shape. 

Just this week, Mark “Time Well Spent” Zuckerberg unveiled a new line of filters and stickers on Facebook for World Mental Health Day. The stickers are supposed to facilitate honest conversations about mental health — and the social media giant will donate cash every time a user sends one (up to $1m, anyway).

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Facebook’s not going out on a limb here

It’s joining a slew of companies that have come out with pro-mental health campaigns lately (some better received than others). Many of the world’s most powerful companies are looking to younger companies to learn how to reach a consumer base that’s increasingly interested in inclusivity, self-care, and corporate social responsibility. 

Give the people what they want 

Customers’ preferences for pro-mental health products aren’t coming out of nowhere. About 20% of adults in the US deal with mental illness in any given year — but stigma prevents many from seeking treatment. 

The wellness movement has made it (more) OK to talk about these kinds of topics, and consumers have shown that they want to get in on the conversation.

So consumers are talking — and businesses are clearly listening

At an annual meeting last month, top CEOs announced that their top priorities should be investing in employees, delivering value to customers, and doing business ethically — not maximizing profits. 

Addressing mental health concerns fits into that framework. But it’s not as though companies are forgoing cash to address these issues. Pro-wellness initiatives also clearly play well with consumers. 

Companies that have implemented mental health initiatives for their employees have reported significant savings on things like healthcare costs. Plus, happy employees are both more productive and more loyal than unhappy ones. 

It’s one of those rare cases where profitability and doing the right thing actually line up. 

Learn more about World Mental Health Day, including suicide prevention resources, here

» Ommm

Here are some of this week’s weirdest ways to spend money

Ahh, money… some of us have a little, some of us have a lot. But, for better and for worse, most of us spend too much time thinking about it.

But somehow it seems that every single week, people find creative ways to spend oodles of their hard-earned cash on wild, new STUFF. Here are some of the best — and most bizarre — things we found this week:

  • Collectible Cheetos, $3,499.55: You may not pay $3,499.55 for a really, really cool-looking Cheeto — but someone might. The Outline did an amazing, confusing, lactose-laden deep dive into the internet’s absurd subculture of collectible Cheetos.
  • Meditation booth, $4,195: The meditation app Calm continues its strange, strange path of diversification by teaming up with ROOM to present a $4,195 meditation booth featuring a “soothing misty forest interior” and soundproofing material made from 1,088 recycled plastic bottles.
  • “Jesus shoes,” $1,425-$3,000: Just when you thought the high-end sneaker market couldn’t get any weirder… a studio called MSCHF released a pair of “Jesus Shoes” filled with actual holy water and scented with frankincense. They sold out almost immediately, and are now selling for upwards of $3,000 resale.
  • CBD-infused sports bra, $125: A startup called Acabada sells a sports bra infused with 5 grams of “zero-THC, lab-certified, 99.9% pure CBD,” as a part of its cannabis activewear line, the “The High Life Collection.”
» I’ll take 2
If you’re looking for TV so good you’ll postpone plans for it, look no further:
Big Mouth Ssn 3 image

When ingredient prices rise, so does food fraud

Two angry ice cream eaters filed a class-action lawsuit against the New York-based Wegmans Food Markets for allegedly selling vanilla ice cream … that doesn’t actually contain vanilla.

You’ve been soft served 

The plaintiffs claimed that Wegmans misled them by labeling its premium-priced ice cream as simply “vanilla,” while listing “natural vanilla flavor” among its ingredients. 

The catch-all phrase “natural flavors” means several substances have been combined to replicate another ingredient — typically an expensive one. And though they’re returning to earth, vanilla prices are still high

Wegmans says its labeling complies with industry standards. But other companies have found ways to be extra clear: Ben & Jerry’s lists “vanilla extract from vanilla bean seeds” among its ingredients. 

It’s not just vanilla vitriol, either 

Last year, a woman filed a similar lawsuit against Canada Dry’s parent company, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, which included the tagline “made with real ginger” on its cans.

But despite its lofty label, Canada Dry’s ginger ale was also made with those nefarious “natural flavors” — and the plaintiff claimed she was duped into drinking a product with no health benefits.

It’s not just supermarket aisles that are rife with misleading products. Falsely labeled packages are also a big problem for the seafood industry, which has seen high-ticket items like Alaskan halibut and bluefin tuna replaced by cheaper look-alikes.

» The sincerest form of flattery

That’s the spooky spirit: Bungalo is now inspecting homes for ghosts 

Bungalo, the Austin-based real estate platform, hit the scene in 2018 intent on streamlining the home-buying process, priding itself on its rigorous 160-point home inspection. 

Now, the company has added a new, spookier check point: paranormal inspection reports.

Yup. For the month of October, Bungalo will send a ghostbuster to suss out any paranormal loiterers in Charlotte, Dallas, or Tampa — all to put the customer’s mind at ease before taking the homeowner plunge. 

Bungalo ain’t afraid of disclosing no ghosts

In most states, haunted homes don’t have to be disclosed by previous owners. But Bungalo’s all about transparency. So… happy Halloween, house hunters!

Don’t worry, it’s totally legit. In a promo video, Becky Vickers, one of Bungalo’s trained ghost-fessionals, claims her tools — which include a blinking stuffed bear, a spirit box, and spirit pod — have “a very scientific way” of testing for Casper.

What happens if Becky finds one??!!

You would think if a house has a ghost problem it would warrant a steep discount — like murder homes — but, according to a Bungalo spokesperson, if a ghost chaser finds a ghoul partying in a guest room, “The space in question will be properly cleansed and certified for the buyer’s total peace of mind.”

In other words, if a house is paranormal-positive, Becky purifies the place, chasing out the evil spirits.

Pseudoscience sells, (living) souls

Science repudiates the notion that ghosts even exist — but that hasn’t kept the mystical and psychic services market down. According to an IBISWorld report, services like ghost cleansing contribute to a more than $2B industry

But Bungalo’s not making bank on its seasonal inspection. The Casper cleansing comes at no extra cost to the homebuyer.

» You just got saged


Sixteen trillion. 

That’s how big the life insurance coverage gap is today. 

Why? Maybe it’s a lack of understanding of why it’s important. Maybe it’s the inconvenience — who has time to sit down and talk with an agent these days? Hell, maybe it’s both. 

Ladder wants to solve that with quick, easy, accessible term life insurance. 

Their 100% online application gives you an instant decision. No hoops to jump through or paperwork to fill out, just straightforward term coverage.

The cherry on top? Ladder coverage is flexible, so you can scale up or down based on your needs. 

We’ve talked the talk, now walk the walk. Head over to Ladder and get yourself some peace of mind ASAP. 

Climb on over
What Else…

🚗 In this life, we all shall fall. After years in the making, the vacuum innovator Dyson has nixed its electric car project after founder James Dyson said the company “can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable.”

🎢 But don’t worry… A VR startup called Holoride recently launched a backseat VR experience called “Bride of Frankenstein” to help bring the theme-park experience to the automotive industry.

🚕 Speaking of technology… Ian Bogost’s piece in The Atlantic titled “Technology Sabotaged Public Safety” is a great read.

Shower Thoughts

We asked, you pondered — this week’s Shower Thoughts are entirely, 100% reader-provided. 

1. “If you exhale like “O” it’s warm air. If you exhale like “o” it’s cold air.” 

    — James Armstrong

2. “When you look at your reflection in the mirror, is it twice the distance      away?” 

    — Simon Makker

3. “When you buy a bigger bed, you get more bed room but less bedroom.” 

    — Avi Rubin

4. “Any pants can be sweat pants if you run long enough.” 

    — Samantha Mintz

5. “Neil A. was the first human on the moon. Now say his name backwards…”

    — Austin Katsenberg

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