The Amish Miracle Heater

Temperatures are dropping and that can mean only one thing: the return of the “Amish Miracle Heater”.  The device got worked-over pretty well in the press last season, but regardless (or perhaps in part due to all the attention), the sales campaign of the Canton, Ohio-based Heat Surge company was by all accounts wildly successful.  Which means the latest round of ads hawking the heater, which as it turns out is actually Chinese tech in a snazzy Amish mantle wrapping.

Looks like today the heater is getting raked over the coals in an article appearing in the Boston Herald (find the full-length version at MarketWatch.com).  Chuck Jaffe takes issue with the company’s claim that it “Only uses about 9 cents electric an hour; so turn down your thermostat and never be cold again.”  He explains why that assertion is a bit misleading.  Another report (no longer online) critiques new claims that purchasers of the heater get to take part in a “heating bill relief program”, which the author notes “sounds like a government rebate” when it fact it’s little more than sales schtick.

I outlined some of the issues I had with the heater in a blog post last February, as well as in an article appearing in the Washington Post in March.  My biggest points of contention were with the marketing Heat Surge was employing, which I feel crossed a certain line.  This was most evident in an ad featuring those two Amish staples, champagne and bleached blondes, appearing in Rolling Stone magazine.

Recently I’ve been able to dig into the issue a bit deeper, and will be sharing more in future.  Apparently Amish woodworkers have been supplying some of the wooden mantles, but the company itself is not Amish-owned.

No matter how you feel about Heat Surge’s marketing strategy, from a business standpoint, the heater is a hit, and like Black Friday and duck hunting, the beginning of Amish heater season could become an annual autumn occurrence.

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    9 Comments

    1. Bill

      I’ve been in a number of small Amish shops where I’ve seen kerosene heaters being used, none enclosed by an “Amish” wooden mantle though. I recently purchased a new television and had an Amish cabinet maker build a stand for it. So I guess I am now the proud owner of an “Amish” entertainment center. 🙂
      I undertand your dismay with the marketing ploy of the “Amish heater”.

    2. And if I’m not mistaken, don’t those run on electricity? People are clueless, you know that. Have a GREAT Thanksgiving, Erik, to you and your family ~

    3. P.S. – I have a new e-mail address so I subscribed with that one, but I don’t know how to take my current one off. Thanks ~

    4. English selling Amish products

      Bill, no doubt that is a solid piece of work! I don’t have a particular issue with Amish products being sold under the Amish label by 2nd parties, as Amish themselves typically take an ‘it’s out of our hands’ approach–though if I go out on a limb to speculate I imagine that it might cause some pangs of guilt for some. There is a wide range of thought on using the name itself. Frankly, if I end up in the market for a TV stand, I’ll probably give one of my Amish buddies a call. At the least, it would be another excuse to visit. But having spent many hours in Amish shops and showrooms, I am pretty sure I could find something that would suit just fine.

      Beth, so kind of you! I am actually in PL right now, and had a meager thanksgiving with friends–my Polish grandmother does not celebrate Thanksgiving, for some reason (though now I’m thinking maybe I should motivate her to learn how to baste turkey for next year!) Will be back in the states in a couple of months, among other things am currently working here on a Polish-language book on the Amish. By the way, I will check and see if I can take your other email off the list.

    5. Abigail

      Hi. I know this Comment is very out of place, but only recently did I come across this website, so…(very, very hypothetically: I am a senior girl in high school, and I want to become Amish. Since there are no Amish communities near me, I don’t know anyone of the faith who could help me. Is there anyone you know who might be able to help me?)

    6. Hi, Eric. I don’t think you’ve commented on P.L. Gaus’s Ohio Amish mystery series yet. I just now read Joe Queenan’s article about them at The Weekly Standard.

      http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Protected/Articles/000/000/017/265aoocf.asp

    7. Hi Abigail, that’s a pretty big step, though you say it is only hypothetical. There is some discussion here that may be useful: https://amishamerica.com/2007/03/so_you_want_to_.html

      Spokesrider, thanks for the heads-up! May need to do a post.

    8. Pingback: Groundhog Day Brain Dump: Punxsutawney Amish, seeing shadows, and the Miracle Heater in court?
    9. Renee Haigh

      I would like some pricing and sizing. Thank you