Monday Madness: Household Hacker Hoax

The internet is a wonderful thing – it puts information at everyone’s fingertips. What it also does is enable complete idiots to put out information and make a whole lot of people think that it is true. Have you seen the video about how to charge an iPod with just Gatorade and an onion? Well, sit down my friends, watch a couple quick videos, and get ready for some Monday Madness.


Yes, charge an iPod with an onion! What the evil power company conglomerates don’t want you to know! Straight from the “Household Hacker” to you. All you need to do is:

  • Poke holes in a (white) onion
  • Soak it in Gatorade for half an hour.
  • Remove it and dry it off.
  • Get out your iPod, plug in the USB power cable, and,
  • Shove the USB plug into the onion and voila! Your iPod will now charge for 15 minutes!

Brilliant – I simply don’t know what I would do without this simple trick. This will really come in handy in those airports that don’t have power plugs. Just pack along an onion, buy some Gatorade and sit back as your iPod juices up!

(Word on the street is this is the method Senator Larry Craig used to keep his phone on vibrate setting indefinitely on those long Minneapolis Airport layovers.)
Wait, you don’t believe me? Well fine, watch the video, and you’ll have absolute scientific proof that it works.

The Video.

You see? If it’s a video on the internet, then it works. By golly. Forget that the wires disappear behind the iPod and could have been two different wires. Off-camera, the wire could have been plugged in to a computer, or was a wall-plug charger or something. But that doesn’t change what I saw. And I know what I saw. And I saw the iPod… well… do something, I mean, it was hard to make out. But I saw it.

How did they achieve such a feat? Do the iPod hackers know about it? Will the next firmware prevent this from happening? Read on!

The simple fact is that many fruits and vegetables have the potential to create electricity. You’ve seen it with lemons and potatoes powering light bulbs (actually they don’t make enough power) and little tiny motors powering fans. All you need to do is insert pieces of metal into a lemon, for example, and presto! Electricity!

Well, not quite. The two electrodes have to be different metals, such as Zinc and Copper, otherwise it wouldn’t create an electrical potential. What you’re making is a Galvanic Cell, which uses the corrosion of two electrically-linked metals to create a flow of electrons between them. Thus, electricity. In the process of destroying one (or both) of the metals, you generate some power. The voltage produced depends on the difference in electrode potentials of the two metals.
Now a USB plug has two contacts inside that are used to power devices, like your iPod. These contact are the exact same metal. Often copper or maybe even gold. No matter what the metal, the difference between the electrical potentials of the two metals will always be zero – because they’re the same metal! All that’s going to happen is your shiny new USB plugs will corrode in the solution of onion acids and Gatorade electrolytes.

But, it’s got what iPods crave. Yeah, it’s got electrolytes! Electrolytes are just salts dissolved in water – which allow the water to conduct electricity. They don’t make electricity.
And if you had gold – have fun trying to get it to corrode – it is one of the few metals typically found in its native, unoxidized form – because it is notoriously nonreactive.
Here you can watch a video where someone soaked an onion, but cut the cord and hooked it up to a professional volt-meter. The result? Almost ZERO electricity. Even if it was a Lemon Cell, you wouldn’t get much more than a volt, and an iPod requires 5V to charge. And if it worked, all you would be doing is destroying the metals in your USB plug!
But it doesn’t work. Now, that didn’t keep a few people from believing that it would work. One website was truly skeptical – suggesting that people either explain it or debunk it. Consider it debunked.
But there’s more! Household Hacker also has the solution to all your home media needs! How about a powerful high-fidelity professional-quality speaker made of paper plates, aluminum foil, a penny, and a headphone wire? Oh yeah, just a little scotch tape makes it work. Amazingly, without a magnet or without even shaking while in operation! For less than a dollar!
It gets worse better. There’s another video suggesting that you mangle an RCA cable to power your TV off of a AAA battery! Of course, the oil companies are trying to suppress this one – how could they ever justify the cost of power if all you needed was a pack of little Duracells to play Halo 3 off of (one for the TV, one for the Xbox 360. One for the popcorn popper…)? Amazing! It’s almost as if the power is coming right out of the battery and into the TV – like it was actually connected!
TVs, of course, require AC power, which is the only kind of power that can be transformed into the voltages the system needs. A battery, however is DC power. And not a lot of it. Jebus explains how it works anyway:

  1. The RCA cables are the key to this experiment, as they are the only cheap cables on the market that convert the DC power produced by the AAA battery to the AC current required to run plug-in appliances. As for the use of bigger batteries, there is an upper limit, as anything over a standard C battery will result in more resistance than standard RCA cables can withstand. It may be worth investing in a few sets of Monster Brand RCA cables if you are interested in using D batteries, or multiple AAA cells in series.Comment by jebus — November 19, 2007 @ 10:02 am

Yes, because if you attach RCA plugs on the end of copper wires – you’ll magically be able to convert DC to AC power. Yes, buy expensive cables and cut them up. Good idea!
But, let’s say it worked. How long could you run your TV off of the power in a battery?

Let’s take a 27″ CRT Phillips TV for example. It requires 120 Watts of power when turned on. A AAA alkaline battery contains only 1.41 Watt-hours of power. That means that if you could crank out enough power to turn on the TV, there’s only enough power in one AAA battery to keep it on for… 42.3 seconds. And batteries don’t work that way. You’ll never get a AAA battery to discharge that quickly.

What we have here, folks, is a hoax. It started on this person’s blog, which didn’t even exist until the 8th of November. According to a whois search, was created 11 days ago!

Record created on 2007-11-08 19:09:06.

The videos were first uploaded to YouTube, and as they became popular, the hoaxer decided to add ads and accounts at various other places, intending to make a little money. (YouTube came before their website was registered) There’s even a Household Hacker T-shirt now! Onion-powered!

Wait, that’s Garlic!
It was on their Youtube page that I noticed that this guy claims to be from Davis, CA, so it now has a Davis Wiki page. Accounts that were created later claimed Georgia and San Francisco. The Myspace page claims all three. Looks like a rapid change that wasn’t proofread. Copied from YouTube:

Household Hacker specializes in creating quality items with little to no money and just a bit of imagination.

Name: Household Hacker
Age: 25
City: Davis, CA
Country: United States

Wouldn’t he be worried about people trying it out and finding it all to be bunk?

Disclaimer: This and other videos produced by HouseholdHacker are controlled experiments performed by professionals and unless you are an expert should NOT be attempted at home if you don’t know what you are doing!

Hahahaha! Should I reconsider destroying a nintendo Wii controller to try to turn it into a USB mouse?
That’s it for Monday Madness. The most stupid, inane things that I find in my weekly surfing, right here to make your Mondays seem not so bad. Plumbing the depths of human stupidity is the new ingenuity. Thanks for reading.

Published by

Karl Haro von Mogel

Karl Haro von Mogel serves as BFI’s Director of Science and Media and as Co-Executive Editor of the Biofortified Blog. He has a PhD in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from UW-Madison with a minor in Life Sciences Communication. He is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar researching citrus genetics at UC Riverside.

9 thoughts on “Monday Madness: Household Hacker Hoax”

  1. Unbelievable!

    Someone who carefully makes fake videos and uploads them everywhere, makes a website from scratch, tells me that a post that took an hour to put together is spending too much time! If you’re going to put the time into an elaborate hoax, please make it one that’s not so easy to debunk!

    What I love about Monday Madness is even the commenters add to the fun!


  2. I was thinking about it. Perhaps the goal of this gentleman is not to generate an income from ad space. Perhaps he is trying to become one of the greatest hackers of all time.

    Think about it…

    A hacker breaks into your computer and does one of two things
    1) Sabotage it
    2) Steal information from it

    Generally hackers get their thrills from jacking up your computer, or many peoples’ computers. This guy calls himself Household Hacker. Now wait a minute! If he hacks household items, are you sure he is hacking any household items, or is he hacking our household items? He may be trying to hack our households. What better way to destroy stuff in our homes than tricking us into destroying things at our own discretion?

    The guy posts new hacks what seems to be almost daily. The whole site was constructed seemingly in a matter of days. Not a task for someone who isn’t very bright. Most peculiarly, he never shows his face once. Why doesn’t he want us to know who he is?

    Every video requires for you to destroy something new or different. It seems to get more and more expensive too. The biggest question of all is… why if this stuff is all possible, is he the first and only person to have ever thought it up or mentioned it on such a massive level?


  3. Yeah I think the ads and side income was an afterthought – otherwise it would have been done from the very beginning. A prank on unsuspecting viewers. That the location info seems to change around also supports the notion that he doesn’t want anyone figuring out who he is. But by coming here and leaving a comment, I have confirmed from his IP address – he has a comcast cable connection that traces to Sacramento, CA, which is consistent with living in Davis, CA. (Davis cable connections come up as Sacramento.)

    Of course the REAL reason why he’s the first to discover all these amazing things is that there’s a government/corporate conspiracy at work behind all this. They don’t want you to know..!


  4. Karl,

    I knew that by posting you would run a check on the IP and thus confirm my location. There are a few of us who work on these videos, some being in Davis and some being in Georgia.

    I do have to ask myself: “Why do you want my identity so badly?”. If you would like to discuss matters on a private forum, please feel free to email me.



  5. I’m not really concerned with your identity so much as determining if your website is relevant to Davis and thus the Davis wiki. That there are several people across the country making the same videos would certainly explain the weird mix of locations, and that only the hands of the demonstrators are shown. Thanks for the info.

    Other than that, I debunk bunk. Even fake bunk, as it is an exercise for debunking the real thing.


  6. yeah I think he is just an asshole who wants to see how many people believe this video… Hey I’d laugh at people to if I made a fake how to vid and many people believed me.


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