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What Readers Bought in October: Kids’ Toys and Dog Treats

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

Welcome back to Your Shopping Cart, where we break out the top-ten products that you, devoted Strategist readers, all bought in droves. Think of this as the tl;dr of the Strategist. If your like-minded brethren are buying these items, maybe you’d like to, too.

While masks still took up the top two spots this month, Strategist readers seem to be stocking up for the holidays. With festivities and cold weather just around the corner (and predictions of supply-chain issues), October brought new top picks, including a reviewer-favorite heater and giftable toys. But it wouldn’t be a Strategist shopping-cart roundup without a few reader staples, like dermatologist-recommended wrinkle cream, luxurious gel pillows, and a nighttime dental guard.

For the third month in a row, these KF94 masks take the top spot, proving that they’re one of the best disposable face masks. The South Korean equivalent of N95s are a longtime favorite of Strategist senior vice-president of e-commerce Camilla Cho. “Pulling on the little front loop adjusts the tightness around the ears, nose, and sides,” she says. After she tested both these masks and other KN95s, these were her clear winner because they were so much more comfortable and they didn’t fog up while she was wearing glasses.

Keeping its spot at No. 2 are these disposable face masks from EcoGuard, which are made in the USA out of three layers of non-woven fabric. When we put them to the test, we found that they are “very comfortable and fit pretty well without much need for adjustment” and easily passed the lighter test. This month, the black colorway outsold the ubiquitous blue masks.

Jumping up to the third spot from the fifth last month is this reader-favorite night cream. (It’s also the tenth time it appeared in readers’ carts since 2019.) Plus, it’s both a budget-friendly retinol product and one of the best wrinkle creams, according to dermatologists. Dr. Ellen Marmur, associate clinical professor at Mount Sinai’s Department of Dermatology, says it’s a “retinol that combines the retinoid with oxygen and antioxidants to make it safe and mild enough for everyday use.”

The Beckham gel pillow is back for the ninth month in a row, establishing itself as a reader mainstay. On top of that, it’s also praised highly by Amazon reviewers. One reviewer with insomnia calls the set of pillows “magical” and was shocked after they were able to sleep for 11 hours straight: “I woke up and was SO comfortable and the pillows were still soft and fluffy. And I was so cozy, I could have fallen right back to sleep.”

Making its first appearance on this list is this dentist- and hygienist-approved cordless Waterpik. Experts recommend it for people with limited space or those who might want to use it in the shower to minimize the potential mess. Dr. Inna Chern of New York General Dentistry, who uses this model herself, says, “I like it because we have limited bathroom-counter space and it easily goes into our medicine cabinet. It is much easier and more efficient than flossing. This model and all Waterpik-brand flossers are excellent for braces, whether conventional or clear aligners. And for people with dexterity issues, it’s a very easy-to-hold model, lightweight (under a pound), and versatile.”

Climbing the list from No. 9 to No. 6, this Oral-B dental guard was even more popular with readers in October, which we’ve presumed might be an indication of stressful times. For those looking for a well-fitting, over-the-counter alternative to a custom mouth guard, this one is the best, according to dentists, thanks to its “boil and bite” design. Plus, it also covers all the teeth, which makes it safer than partial appliances because there is less of a chance that your teeth will shift.

As chilly weather approaches, Strategist readers geared up accordingly. Making a first-time appearance on this list is this Amazon-reviewer-favorite space heater. Reviewers seem to love it not only because it heats up a room, but also because it helps you maintain a steady temperature. “Once your room reaches a certain temp the heat will cease until there is a drop, in which it will automatically turn back on,” explains one reviewer, adding that it’s “something you wouldn’t expect at this price point.”

It’s not often that toys top readers’ shopping carts, but these collectible toys are expected to sell out by the holidays, according to experts we spoke to in preparation of supply-chain issues. Readers gravitated toward this set of plastic balls filled with charming miniature replicas of supermarket products, which we think would also make a good stocking stuffer for kids. Two experts we spoke to, Chris Byrne, who goes by the name the Toy Guy, and Ali Mierzejewski, editor in chief of the Toy Insider, say these toys have already started to sell out. “It makes sense because kids love miniature things and they love shopping,” says Byrne. Mierzejewski adds kids love the unboxing reveal, which is still super-popular all over social media, and that the toys are fun to display, trade with friends, and use as props for Barbie and other similar-size dolls.

Dog items also rarely make it on to our best-seller list. This month, readers stocked up on these protein-based, expert-recommended dog treats. Erin Askeland, an animal-health and -behavior consultant at Camp Bow Wow, likes that they “are made of minimal ingredients and can be easily broken in half if you’re watching your pup’s weight.” She adds that the treats are also “smelly enough for hiding around the house and yard for ‘find-it’ games.”


Another giftable kids item that topped readers’ carts was this board game, which is both educational and reasonably priced, according to our gift guide for 5-year-olds. Steven John, a Strategist contributor, tech writer, father of two, and one of the writers of the story, says Outfoxed has “more replay value than I have ever experienced in a child’s board game.” He adds that while it’s easy enough for kids to understand, “the choices to be made during each turn require critical thinking, planning, and teamwork. The collaborative nature of play minimizes conflict between siblings or friends, and allows parents to get in on the action as well.”

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

What Readers Bought in October: Kids’ Toys and Dog Treats