PROVIDENCE - The Ginsu slices, it dices, and it could soon help you get from here to there.
A state lawmaker recently proposed naming a quarter-mile road Ginsu Way to honor the Rhode Islanders who slapped a faux-Japanese name onto a cheap serrated knife and used television infomercials to turn it into a ubiquitous brand parodied on "Saturday Night Live."
The infomercials enticed viewers by combining sidewalk-style sales hawking - "But wait, there's more!" "Operators are standing by!" - with visual stunts such as using the knives to chip wood and saw through tin cans.
"The way it was sold really changed the way products are sold all over the world," said Representative David Caprio, who sponsored the bill. "I thought it deserved recognition."
Caprio proposed the road's name last month after speaking last summer with Ed Valenti, who began marketing Ginsu knives with his partner, Barry Becher, in 1978. Valenti is now the chief operating officer of PriMedia Inc. in Warwick, and the unmarked road that would be christened Ginsu Way runs outside his office.
Valenti and Becher were already using infomercials to sell household goods when they were contacted by the Ohio-based knife maker Douglas Quikut, which wanted to boost sales of its Eversharp kitchen knife.
The Rhode Island marketing duo suggested turning the product into a set of knives, changing the name to the meaningless, Japanese-sounding Ginsu and selling it on television.
Their infomercials were the first to take credit card orders and refer buyers to a toll-free telephone number, said Valenti, who recently wrote a business book called "The Wisdom of Ginsu."
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Mark Zalesky, editor of Knife World Magazine in Knoxville, Tenn., said the knife isn't high-quality, but "it's become kind of a pop icon."
Valenti calls the Ginsu his greatest advertising success.
"No matter how you slice it, no pun intended," he said, "it's probably one of the most recognized brand names today."