18 Smart Products To Help You Kick Off Summer

iStock/MCCAIG
iStock/MCCAIG

Whether you’re trying to spiff up your backyard barbeque or cultivate your green thumb, these summertime gadgets will help you celebrate the season from solstice to the dog days.

1. Rosé Wine Glasses; $60 for Two

Rosé Wine Glass
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Wine not? When the temperature rises and beer isn’t your thing, reach for the rosé. Riedel’s machine-blown SST (see, smell, taste) wine glasses will give the sparkly stuff ample room to breathe, making every refreshing sip worthwhile.

Find It: Amazon

2. Nerf N-Strike Elite Surgefire; $19

Nerf SurgeFire
Hasbro

Why It’s Cool: The N-Strike Elite SurgeFire (say that five-times-fast) sports a pump-action rotating drum for maximum foam-based firepower and holds up to 15 Nerf darts in its arsenal.

Find It: Walmart

3. Bushel & Berry Plants; $34

plant
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: You don’t need to have a green thumb to create a brag-worthy garden this summer. Besides producing snackable mid-season berries, these open-growing bushes can be planted immediately for easy set-up to make you look like a botanical pro.

Find It: Amazon

4. Inflatable Donut; $11

An inflatable pool toy shaped like a pink donut with sprinkles
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When the only dunking you’re doing is taking a dip in the pool, a 48-inch inflatable donut is the perfect way to stay afloat.

Find It: Amazon

5. Star Spangled Spatula; $21

American flag spatula
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: O say can you see by your grill’s charcoal light / Meats so proudly we cooked … with a star spangled spatula. Depending on the specific model, these all-American grilling tools (designed in New Jersey and made in Chicago) are made of a combination of walnut and stainless steel or nylon. As an added bonus: 5 percent of the proceeds go to the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

Find It: Amazon

6. Mlb Hot Dog Branders; $6 AND UP

MLB San Diego Padres Hot Dog BBQ Brander
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Take your hot dogs, sausages, brats, and more out to the ballgame without ever leaving your grill. These branders (which come in a variety of different designs repping teams across the country) from Pangea Brands are dishwasher-safe and made of ceramic-coated cast iron.

Find It: Amazon

7. Una Grill; $145

grill
MoMA Shop

Why It’s Cool: This portable charcoal-heated grill is as efficient as it is stylish. The compact size lets you cook at the park, on your deck, or anywhere in between.

Find It: Una

8. Hamburger Grilling Basket; $21


Why It’s Cool: Made of steel and finished with a non-stick coating, this grilling tool flips four burgers at once and maintains perfect burger proportions to guarantee nobody stays hungry for long.

Find It: Amazon or Walmart

9. Copper Fire Pit; $120

metal fire pit
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: The grill isn’t the only place for a roaring fire this summer. This 100 percent solid copper fire pit makes for the perfect gathering spot at your next BBQ, or just to warm up after a cool summer evening.

Find It: Amazon

10. Bendy Straw Pool Noodle Float; $10

Bendy Straw Inflatable Pool Float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Inflatable pool floats shouldn’t be boring, and this bendy straw float definitely does not suck. This unique spin on traditional pool noodles is sure to make for some cheesy jokes, but at least you’ll be comfortable floating in the pool or at the beach.

Find It: Amazon

11. Griddler Deluxe; $115

Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for some serious panini power, this griddler offers up a versatile lineup of six cooking options in one. And with dual-zone functions you can sling burgers while searing filets and sautéeing vegetables all at the same time.

Find It: Amazon

12. Vintage Snow Cone Maker; $32

Vintage Snow Cone Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: With its old-timey design, dual cone shelf, and endless flavor options, this snow cone maker is guaranteed create a cool treat.

Find It: Amazon

13. Dachshund Corn On The Cob Holders; $6

Dog Corn Holders
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: While meat-lovers will inevitably scarf down a lot of hot dogs this summer, vegetarians who happen to love another kind of dog will be smitten with these stainless steel, Dachshund-shaped corn on the cob prongs. They’re a fun spin on a summer grilling favorite.

Find It: Amazon

14. Ice Cream Sandwich Maker; $20

Ice Cream Sandwich Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Four sandwiches are better than one, especially when they're of the ice cream variety. Make four ice cream sandwiches at once with this homemade spin on a classic cold treat.

Find It: Amazon

15. Ue Wonderboom; $62

Bluetooth speaker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Besides delicious food and great company, some memorable tunes are required for the quintessential barbeque. This portable Bluetooth speaker offers up some booming sound in a small package, and with a battery power of 10 hours on a single charge you can keep the party going all night.

Find It: Amazon

16. Rollors Game; $50

Rollors Backyard Game
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When you’re sick of bocce, hate horseshoes, and you’re over cornhole, you might want to take up “rollors,” a family-friendly game that combines your favorite traditional backyard festivities into one game for people of all ages.

Find It: Amazon

17. Hammock; $177

hammock
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Rest easy knowing that this 100 percent hand-woven and hand-dyed cotton hammock contributes to artisan job-creation in Thailand.

Find It: Amazon

18. VSSL Survival Essentials; $45

Emergency Survival Tent Outdoors
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Compact, convenient, and durable, the VSSL Shelter can come in handy when things don’t go quite as planned. The device—which features a lightweight emergency shelter all within the handle of a compact, weather-resistant aluminum LED flashlight—is designed to keep you safe under the worst conditions.

Find It: Moosejaw

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

A version of this story first ran in 2018. It has been updated to reflect current availability.

University of California and McMaster University Are Offering Their Learning How to Learn Course Online for Free

Deagreez/iStock via Getty Images Plus
Deagreez/iStock via Getty Images Plus

If you've ever stayed up late cramming information the night before an exam, it probably didn't go well. Or maybe you tried doing the right thing by spending days or even months studying a subject, only to realize you weren't retaining the information. These failed attempts may have you believe you're just not cut out for the subject matter, but that's not always true. In the course Learning How to Learn from Coursera, you can understand what it takes to truly understand new information, as well as the key strategies and habits you can employ to make it all stick.

Learning How to Learn is taught by Dr. Barbara Oakley, a Ramón y Cajal Distinguished Scholar of Global Digital Learning at McMaster University, along with Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, who holds the Francis Crick Chair at the Salk Institute and is a professor at the University of California, San Diego. Throughout the weeks, they’ll teach you how to combat procrastination, how our brains process information, and the importance of breaking up new material into bite-sized chunks. You’ll also cover how taking breaks, getting sleep, and exercising are just as important as studying when it comes to learning something new.

According to Coursera, to finish the class in the typical four-week time, most students devote about three hours a week to the online videos, readings, quizzes, and coursework. There’s also no need to cram—which you’ll learn is not an effective learning tool—as this course is self-paced.

The course itself is free, but if you want a certificate of completion to share on your LinkedIn and resume, it will cost $49. Signing up for the certificate also gives you access to graded assignments, whereas the free version only allows you to read the course material.

You can also check out more free classes offered by Ivy League colleges by heading here.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

9 of Amazon’s Best Kitchen Knives

Wüsthof/Amazon
Wüsthof/Amazon

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or just starting to build up your home kitchen, a dependable knife set is absolutely essential. But there are a lot of choices out there when it comes to kitchen knives and chef knives. So, to make things easier for you, we looked at some of the top-selling knives on Amazon with the highest user ratings (at least 900 reviews each) and came up with a list of the best options available. You can check them out below.

1. 15-Piece Cuisinart Knife Set (4.6 Stars); $45

A Cuisinart knife set.
Cuisinart/Amazon

Cuisinart has been making quality kitchen products for decades, and this knife set offers 12 stainless-steel blades that are perfect for slicing and chopping the ingredients of any dish you happen to be cooking up. In this package, you'll also get sharpening steel, kitchen shears, and a holding block.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Home Hero Set of Seven (4.6 Stars); $27

A Home Hero knife set.
Home Hero/Amazon

Inside this versatile set, you'll find a chef knife, carving knife, bread knife, utility knife, and a paring knife. Along with the five stainless-steel blades, there's also a finger guard and sharpener, so you can keep your utensils ready to go at all times.

Buy it: Amazon

3. McCook 14-Piece Set (4.7 Stars); $53

McCook Knife set.
McCook/Amazon

Made with high-carbon stainless steel, this knife set is built to last. The knives have an easy-to-grip handle that’s comfortable to hold, while the blades are built to cut through just about anything. And when they do get dull, there’s a sharpener built into the wooden stand.

Buy it: Amazon

4. AmazonBasics Eight-Piece Steak Knife Set (4.4 Stars); $22

A set of steak knives from Amazon.
Amazon

This set of simple yet dependable knives is what you'll want to have on hand to get you through barbecue season. Each one is made from a single piece of stain-resistant steel, and according to Amazon, you won’t need to worry about sharpening the micro-serrated part of the blade.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Set of Four Dalstrong Knives (4.7 Stars); $90

A set of steak knives.
Dalstrong/Amazon

After you cook your perfect steak, make sure you have the proper tools to enjoy it with. Dalstrong’s knives are made from high-carbon German steel and will stay sharp long after their first use.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Mercer Culinary Genesis Steak Knife, Serrated Edge (4.8 Stars); $14

A knife from Mercer Culinary.
Mercer Culinary/Amazon

Mercer Culinary makes knives for professional chefs and home cooks alike. Its santoprene handle allows for a comfortable grip, while its carbon-forged steel blade is rust-resistant.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Wüsthof Eight-Inch Chef’s Knife (4.8 Stars); $165

A knife from Wüsthof.
Wüsthof/Amazon

Wüsthof has been making knives for over 200 years, and this sturdy chef's knife can be put through the wringer without worrying about quick wear and tear.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Utopia Kitchen 8-Inch Chef Knife (4.4 Stars); $9

A chef's knife from Utopia Kitchen.
Utopia Kitchen/Amazon

This rust-resistant stainless-steel knife is one you’ll want to have on hand. It's built to cut through large food items but you can also use it to mince or finely chop smaller ones. And with such a low price point, it's great to pick up if you're just looking to practice the basics before moving on to something more advanced.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Victorinox 10-Inch Swiss Classic Chef’s Knife (4.8 Stars); $40

A Victorinox knife.
Victorinox/Amazon

Victorinox has been around for over 130 years, and their versatile chef’s knife lets you put your slicing and dicing skills to the test. It has a tapered edge which allows you to get the perfect angle, while its razor-sharp blade can cut through pretty much anything a recipe might throw your way.

Buy it: Amazon

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

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