CNBC Blogs Funny Business with Jane Wells


  Wednesday, 26 Nov 2014 | 5:00 AM ET

A new cooking app that works like your car's GPS

Posted By: Jane Wells

Does the idea of holiday cooking have you feeling sliced and diced?

There's an app for that.

SideChef is a new app that talks you through each step of a recipe using audio commands and pictures. There are even short tutorials in case you don't know how to mince garlic or toss a salad. Yes, it's that basic. Naturally, it was created by a man. (Oh yeah, I'm going there.)

"SideChef is very similar to how GPS works," said creator Kevin Yu. "GPS helps you get to a location by giving you lots of step-by-step instructions."

Read More Can't find parking? There's an app for that

Yu is a former game developer who worked on World of Warcraft for Activision Blizzard before striking out on his own. One Valentine's Day, he tried to whip up a three-course meal for his sweetheart.

"I set up my computer, had YouTube running at the same time, and I was trying to open all these things and, like, cooking, throwing in ingredients." The result? "Honestly, it was a big mess."

»Read more
  Sunday, 2 Nov 2014 | 3:50 PM ET

What happens in MA stays in MA? Voters to decide

Posted By: Jane Wells

Three years ago, Massachusetts approved legalized gambling, after companies competed fiercely for regional licenses and millions were spent on real estate, planning, hiring and lobbying,

Come Tuesday, however, voters in the Bay State may decide they don't want gambling after all.

This week, voters are set to decide whether to repeal a law that hasn't even fully taken effect yet, amid a uproar from a coalition of grassroots organizations that want to end Massachusetts gambling bid before it even begins. Public opinion polls suggest the odds favor the casinos on ballot Question 3 by a nearly two-to-one majority, a reflection of what some say is a boon for the state's finances.

"You're losing a billion dollars a year," said Springfield mayor Domenic Sarno, referring to the amount of money which flows from Massachusetts to other states in gaming revenues, jobs, and taxes.

Read MoreJackpot! Gambling's impact on US economy

He said people have the right to oppose gambling, but when he asks them for other solutions, "Many times they'll say to me, 'That's not my problem.' I say, 'That's right, it's my problem."

"It's too good for the economy," said Marc Tassone as he ordered from the counter at Frigo's Deli in Springfield. That said, the language of the ballot measure could be confusing. A "Yes" on Question 3 would repeal the gaming law. On the other hand, a "no" on the measure means "yes" to gaming.

"No means yes to the casinos, right?" asked Tom Goodrow, an employee at Frigo's Deli in Springfield. And he's far from being the only one confused.

»Read more
  Friday, 12 Sep 2014 | 2:22 PM ET

Dating website offers to mentor 'ugly' people

Posted By: Jane Wells

"We've democratized beauty," said Greg Hodge, overlooking the Pacific Ocean on a stunning day at the Surf & Sand Resort in Laguna Beach.

»Read more
  Friday, 29 Aug 2014 | 3:34 PM ET

America runs on bacon, and so does this motorcycle

Posted By: Jane Wells

Hormel has created a custom motorcycle that runs on 100 percent refined bacon grease. The bike is part of a marketing effort to promote Hormel's Black Label brand, and an entire story around the marketing stunt from ad agency BBDO can be found at

Why a bacon bike?

"It was more like, 'Why wouldn't you do that?'" said Steve Venenga, Hormel VP of new products marketing. "I mean, it was such a great idea."

»Read more
  Friday, 22 Aug 2014 | 4:50 PM ET

A new way to join the 'Mile High Club' (for a fee)

Posted By: Jane Wells

People do a lot of crazy things when they go to Las Vegas. Andy Johnson is counting on that. Johnson has created Love Cloud Vegas, an airline where people pay to go airborne so they can join the "Mile High Club."

»Read more
  Friday, 22 Aug 2014 | 9:02 AM ET

Frankenfruit—for real—draws big bucks for one guy

Posted By: Jane Wells

Food prices are high, but for the $100 watermelons and pumpkins Tony Dighera grows organically in Fillmore, California, demand is outstripping supply.

That's $100 wholesale, by the way. Retail is $200.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 | 3:43 PM ET

Up in smoke: California wildfire torches pot crops

Posted By: Jane Wells

A wildfire burning through dense forest in California's Mendocino County has destroyed more than 11,000 acres and injured eight firefighters. The cost has reportedly topped $20 million.

That does not include the marijuana.

»Read more
  Thursday, 7 Aug 2014 | 1:38 PM ET

Prancercise is back! This time with horses...

Posted By: Jane Wells

The Prancercise lady is back.

A year and a half after Joanna Rohrback became a viral video star with her odd exercise program and an outfit that defies description, she's returned with a new Prancercise video (plus a DVD) called "Fitness with Passion."

"This video goes a step beyond my original video, exploring the potential of getting fit along with a preferred partner, in a preferred environment, and even alongside preferred animals," said Rohrback.

Read MorePrancercise Creator: 'Let Them Laugh'

The new video is different from the original in three ways: 1) Rohrback has a partner this time, Victor Cutino of the Peaceful Ridge Rescue for horses, 2) she actually gets to Prancercise with real horses, 3) more money was used in the production (a drone provides aerials, spooking the horses at one point).

It actually looks like a pretty good workout.

»Read more
  Friday, 1 Aug 2014 | 1:02 PM ET

The economy's in the toilet, and that's a good thing

Posted By: Jane Wells

Here's one indicator the economy is improving: Your favorite seat in the house costs more.

Toilet sales have risen 28 percent since 2011, according to American Standard CEO Jay Gould, whose company is a leading manufacturer of toilets.

"We lost about a third of our overall business from 2008 until 2012," Gould said. "I'm happy to say now, over the past two years, we've been growing at double-digit rates."

Most of the company's $1 billion in annual sales are tied to home remodeling projects, and the company is now trying to capture one of the fastest-growing trends: smart toilets. This summer American Standard started selling the $4,200 AT200, a toilet with a heated seat that automatically opens, closes and flushes.

Read MorePeer-to-peer's new meaning: Bathroom rentals

American consumers looking for a European experience can also use a retractable bidet wand. Competitors Toto and Kohler already sell smart toilets, and Gould said he thinks American Standard can sell $50 million worth a year.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 30 Jul 2014 | 11:52 AM ET

Living the dream in Malibu—for less!

Posted By: Jane Wells

I got to pretend this week. Pretend that I live in Malibu.

»Read more

About Funny Business with Jane Wells

  • If it was up to Jane Wells, she’d spend her entire day combing Mother Earth for stories and observations just for this blog. She has more fun writing Funny Business than anything else she does... professionally, that is. Funny business is whatever Jane considers hilarious, strange, fishy, or ridiculous, which pretty much covers everything on Wall Street. It is her hope this blog makes you smile, even when the news is grim. After all, it's only money.


  • Jane Wells

    Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for