Thomm Quackenbush, author

Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel Insoles

BzzAgent sent me a package with a pair of Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel Insoles. As a substitute teacher, I spend a lot of time on my feet. I prefer to be as comfortable as possible in order to best deal with hormonal demons masquerading as children. Of course, I am also a novelist, which involves sitting in place for many hours at a time wearing a silly hat and little else (what? We all have our methods). Given that it was summer when I received the package, guess what I had been doing more of?

To compensate for my increasingly sedentary lifestyle (and because I did not care to waste my insoles in my running shoes), I devised tests of strength and endurance.

Test One: Dancing

I was invited to a swing dance being held on the Hudson Valley Walkway. What could be better than swing music being played 212 feet above the Hudson River in the midst of a disinterested crowd? If my insoles could hold up to my attempts at dancing, that would be a marked win for Dr. Scholl's.

I placed the insoles in a pair of size eleven Doc Martin’s, because doctors tend to stick together (and also because the soles of the shoes are just slippery enough to facilitate proper dancing, unlike boots intended to adhere so I do not fall off of mountains). I had to cut them down prior to the event, but the process was easy as the scoring marks were already on the insoles.

Problem one: There is this small, blue gel circle where my heel touches the insole. It sticks to my socks with every step. It serves no purpose other than showing one that the insole is made of the massaging gel. However, as I was the one to put the insoles in, I know what they are made of: something that looks like it should freeze my feet.

Problem two: the invitation was not specific as to where the dancing would take place. The Walkway is 1.28 miles. I had assumed it would be near the Poughkeepsie end but, as I arrive, I notice no appropriate band playing and certainly none of the people I recognize from prior outings. I do not fancy driving to the Highland end. Then it occurs to me that the event is no doubt being held dead center on the Walkway. I am already five minutes late, so the insoles are put to the test of dashing .64 miles as quickly as possible. To be honest, I don’t really notice the insoles either way. I know the literature and commercials talk of “gellin’ like Magellan”, a statement which has honestly never made a lick of sense to me. At what point in his life was Ferdinand Magellan known for “gellin’”, a condition which the commercials equate with being either injected with an opiate or lobotomized? He did name the Pacific Ocean, so perhaps I am underestimating this Portuguese explorer as a man who knows his relaxation. His ship (though not him, as he had been killed in the Philippines) did complete the first recorded circumnavigation of the globe, which bespeaks doggedness much more than sedation. It couldn’t simply be because “Magellan” sounds like “gellin’” and the initial commercials were yanked for saying the more aurally pleasing “gellin’ like a felon”, right? (Incidentally, given the sudden onset dopiness of the insole-using men in the commercials and the fact that dealing heroin is a felony in most places, the original commercials make rather a lot more sense.)

I arrive at the dance in time to see the park authority chastising the organizers for dancing a bit too broadly and impeding the movements of the passers-by, who do not care much for swing music. I find a series of women who are not expert enough to make me feel I am wasting their time by offering myself as the dominant partner. I dance four times before the representatives of the bridge rev their go-karts and tell us the span is closing in fifteen minutes and we would be advised not to be on it when it does. This means that, for the purposes of the insole tests, I dashed ten minutes, danced twenty, and dashed another ten. Aside from the sticky blue circle mentioned above, at no point am I overly aware of the insoles. They are not bad by any stretch, they just do not seem to perform the miracle of a massage as I walk. Were it not for the hype of the commercials and literature, I would just assume these are functional insoles and leave it at that. However, when one is promised an amazing massage and one receives only a light pat on the back, one is going to feel a bit let down.

Test Two: Vacation

My family planned a vacation to Hull, Massachusetts. Granted, the resort where were to stay was right on the beach. As had been the trouble with further experiments, I tend to wear sandals over the summer and insoles just look ridiculous with them. Anything involving sand beach would be impossible in proper shoes with insoles. As such, I wore shoes only one night, our annual expensive dinner. All gussied up in more proper clothes, with my Dr. Scholl’s inside my Doc Martins (yo dawg, I heard you like doctors…), I squeeze into our fifteen person van. I am sad to report that the insoles do nothing against so much familial discomfort. I do not feel a yogic trance overtake me, no matter how I curl my toes as my five-year-old niece asks after my relationship with Amber. Dr. Scholl’s really ought to invest in a pair of insoles that actually do release euphoric chemicals for just such occasions.

I do not register noticeable comfort as we climb three flights of stairs to the restaurant. I am not especially soothed as my family bickers over the fact that there is conspicuously no seating available for a party of eleven, including five children. I am in no way supported as we climb back down the stairs, force ourselves back into the van, and drive back to the resort. I do feel slightly better once we get to the resorts build in restaurant and am given something to eat, but I do not think Dr. Scholl’s should get the credit here. My feet do not feel like they are on individually, custom crafted clouds. They feel far more as though they are in moderately comfortable shoes with new insoles. New insoles, it should be noted, that still have a sticky circle on the heels.

I grant, two tests hardly make this a scientific experiment. What it boils down to is that Dr. Scholl’s Massaging Gel Insoles are perfectly serviceable. No, they do not massage you or replace a registered guru when it comes to transcendental meditation, no matter what the commercials claim. Wearing these insoles also does not allow one to necessarily sail from the Atlantic to Pacific Ocean, though they would not specifically impede you. My feet did not ache at any point while I wore these. I will keep the insoles in my shoes until they become too ragged and require replacing. When I replace, however, I can give no promise that it will be with another Dr. Scholl’s product, let alone the Massaging Gel Insoles. Very likely, it will be the first insoles I come to that seem to boast of some sort of support and aren’t too expensive. Insoles tend not to be something in which it feel natural to invest much thought.


Xen reviews goods and services in order either to receive free goods and services or to get money with which to procure goods and services on his own. Despite this, he intends to be honest and not write something that sounds like warmed over ad copy.
Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings.


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Works by Thomm Quackenbush

The Night's Dream Series

We Shadows by Thomm Quackenbush

Danse Macabre by Thomm Quackenbush

Artificial Gods by Thomm Quackenbush