We all have stuff that we’ve bought ourselves — or asked others to buy for us — that makes us happy, even if we suspect our friends may not understand why it’s so great. It could be a $100-plus coffee cup that keeps your liquid at the exact right temperature. Or a video game that you’ve been playing for years. Or a hair styler that is way expensive but would make you look fabulous.
We asked the staff of The Verge what some of their guilty pleasures are, and the braver among us volunteered some answers. Here they are.
I’m hesitant to call it a “guilty” pleasure because I have used this $550 (or more) GE Opal 2.0 ice machine every day for nearly a full year and not once have I felt guilt about spending such an obscene amount of cash on a kitchen gadget that does exactly one thing. But the GE Opal gives me the “good” ice, alternatively known as “nugget” or “Sonic” ice. Besides being crucial for authentic Tiki drinks, this ice just feels like it classes up every drink it touches. I stopped buying iced coffee elsewhere because mine always just came out fancier — and seemingly tastier. Juice feels luxurious poured over these chewy little ice nugs. Sodas sparkle when faced with so much surface area. Even a glass of water feels like it’s more expensive.
The GE Opal costs $550 if you’re lucky (it goes on sale often) but usually retails for $579 to $679. It comes with Bluetooth and an atrocious app I closed immediately after opening. It’s noisy — the churn of ice being made is providing a background rhythm even as I type this. But every day I use this machine I feel a little trill of joy — so it might not be a guilty pleasure for me, but depending on your love of beverages, mileage will vary. —Alex Cranz, managing editor
I’m obsessed with the orange mango flavor of Spindrift sparkling water. It tastes kind of like orange soda but without all of the sugar, and I find it extremely refreshing. If I think about it too much, sparkling water feels like a waste of money. But every week when I go to the grocery store, a case of the delicious Spindrift just happens to end up in my cart. —Jay Peters, news writer
Don’t let the gray hairs, mortgage, spouse, and two cats fool you — I am a child. A recent example is my impulsive purchase of two Halo Nerf Bulldog SG Dart Blasters from a lightning deal during the Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend. I usually refrain from buying into the hype cycle of new game releases, but I have been getting back into Halo in a big way since the multiplayer beta launch.
As for the Nerf, the pump-action loading and included in-game weapon skin hooked me. I got one for myself and one for my brother-in-law, ensuring I have a partner in crime. We immediately tested them on each other — they do sting a bit — before turning our aim to my wife’s Christmas decorations (that poor snowman). Then we hopped into some multiplayer matches, giggling as we hunted down shotguns just to see our cool digital Nerf guns. Now I want the MA40 assault rifle to go with it, so I can start every match in Halo Infinite with another silly, guilty pleasure purchase straight from IRL. —Antonio G. Di Benedetto, commerce writer
I’ve attended a few weddings in the “Before Times” where I had to style my hair with a curling iron like a grown-up, and not default to my usual ponytail. I watched countless YouTube videos and practiced a bunch, but each attempt was anxiety-inducing. After all, there is no Control-Alt-Z or edit button to undo the wrong curl, especially when you’re working with a hot piece of equipment and under time pressures. In those anxious moments, the $550 Dyson Airwrap styler doesn’t seem like such a ridiculous splurge.
The Airwrap styler uses Dyson’s vacuum technology to create a vortex that automatically wraps your hair around the styling barrel or brush. This eliminates the confusion over which direction to twist the barrel (which is half the battle) and makes it easier to style the hair at the back of your head. My guilty pleasure just involves checking in on this product’s price (no change or even more expensive) and availability (mostly sold out) every now and then. While I can’t guarantee I will use this tool regularly enough to justify its cost, at least I would have no excuse for turning up in a ponytail again. —Gloria Sin, reviewer
I am a drone pilot. That’s what I tell myself every time I purchase a new drone. And maybe six times a year, it’s vaguely true. I love flying and I love drones, but I definitely did not need to purchase the $449 DJI Mini 2. When I sold my DJI Mavic Pro, just a couple years after buying that one to upgrade a Phantom 3 Pro I never used, I told myself I would wait. Of course I didn’t listen.
Like I told my friend Vjeran Pavic, who is an actual photographer and videographer and reviews drones like a pro, I feel kind of naked without one now. Who knows when there might be something amazing happening in my neighborhood and I can just toss a drone up in the air for a look? (Never mind that I’ll undoubtedly have to spend half an hour recharging batteries and possibly updating firmware and databases first.) I totally clocked those kids launching illegal fireworks in my neighborhood this summer, and it reminded me of fond memories reading Harriet the Spy growing up. I’m not sure if it was that, or flying through the fireworks that really made me smile. Either way, the drone is now back in the drawer where it’s been sitting for months. While it’s hard to explain why, I’m so glad it’s there. —Sean Hollister, senior reports editor
Look, there’s an evergreen joke about people who like The Sims but only pick it up every few months to aggressively play it for about a week before forgetting it exists again. I am not one of those people. I am a very avid Sims 4 player and I refuse to hide that any longer. I create intricate storylines for all of my characters and I challenge myself to become a better virtual interior decorator with each new house I build. It helps that new features have recently been added like Scenarios, predetermined sticky situations your Sims can find themselves in, and Kits, which add small batches of new items without needing to buy a full expansion pack (although, I do already own plenty of the expansion packs).
I discovered the first version of the game in the early 2000s at my babysitter’s house as a child, and I’ve been a lost cause ever since. I’ve followed the series through most of the iterations on multiple consoles. This means I can confidently say that The Sims 2 on the PC is still the best version of the game. I also follow TikTok creators who create Sims content to share in the gallery, like ThatSimsChick, who builds beautiful homes and styles them with the eye of a professional. Perhaps one day I’ll be good enough to share my own creations (and abominations) in the gallery, too. Until then, I’m gonna keep logging an embarrassing amount of hours of gameplay a week. — Kaitlin Hatton, senior e-commerce social media manager
As a number of my colleagues likely remember, just a few weeks ago in our team Slack channel, I vociferously criticized buying a $100-plus coffee mug that did nothing other than keep your coffee (or tea, or hot cocoa, or whatever liquid you like to drink hot) at the exact temperature you set it to. Perhaps this was a case of a schoolyard bully negging the kid they have a crush on to hide their true feelings, because I’ve been coveting one of those fancy Ember mugs for years.
And when Best Buy put its exclusive blue color of the Ember Mug V2 on sale for Black Friday, I finally bit. Reader, this mug is fantastic. It keeps my coffee hot no matter how long I take to consume it, I never have to bother with microwaving a room temperature mug, and I can even tweak its settings depending on what I’m drinking out of it (coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon, usually). I even get the joy of occasionally updating the firmware on my coffee mug, a sentence that would have made no sense to anyone just a few years ago.
To be clear, this is a completely frivolous product that nobody actually needs. It makes a mildly annoying thing slightly less annoying and its drawbacks (cost, can’t put it in the dishwasher, did I mention the cost?) probably outweigh those benefits for most people. It’s a little embarrassing how much I like it, which is why it’s a perfect guilty pleasure. I enjoy it, I feel a little awkward about it, and I’d like to never speak of it again. — Dan Seifert, deputy editor
I have a close friend who for years tried to convert me to pen collecting. But while I loved the fountain pens she bought me for birthdays, I was constantly inking up my fingers and smearing the pages, and I just couldn’t get the hang of writing with them.
Then she bought me the Monteverde One Touch Engage pen, which uses fountain pen ink in a roller-ball format — in other words, it uses ink like a fountain pen but writes like a ballpoint. At first, I was doubtful: it was larger than most pens I used and felt a little awkward in my hand. But it definitely grew on me; when I use it, the ink flows so smoothly and beautifully that I feel like another Jane Austen, sitting at a desk and penning some clever 19th-century prose. You can fill the pen with ink from a bottle or use disposable cartridges. (I use the latter; refilling pens was something I also never got the hang of.) The model my friend gave me has rose-gold accents and a stylus on the top so I can also use it with a touch device. The current model lacks the stylus but is, I’m sure, still a cool pen. — Barbara Krasnoff, reviews editor