Princesses and peas

By Nancy Black

Actress Carol Burnett starred in “Once Upon a Mattress” on Broadway in 1959.
Photo courtesy of the Alvin Theatre

I nibbled at first; then I finally took the bait. After driving my K-Pop music-crazed teenager to and from Fort Worth twice this past weekend, I was hooked. I had to find out what the “sign” was all about.

“Mattress companies lie!” the billboard on I-30 I kept passing reads. The website link leads to, which is … you guessed it … a mattress store. But it’s online only, with free shipping and returns. The “lie” the marketing giants behind this ad campaign explains is made up of two parts: You’re getting ripped off when you buy a mattress from a retail store, and most mattress are made of the same material.

I had wondered about that last part because, as the website states, “What on earth do these people think these mattresses are made of!? Phoenix feathers and unicorn hair?” And why is there a mattress store on every corner, sometimes even cattycorner from two other mattress stores, which are all owned by the same company? 

The State Fair of Texas is coming up and soon those huge showrooms that surround the Midway will be filled with hundreds of sales people trying to convince thousands of fairgoers it’s time to improve their lives via a better night’s sleep.

All those mattresses all those sticky Fair fingers will be “test driving” are already presold, too. The companies sterilize them after the Fair ends and sell them for a discounted price to a long list of pre-existing customers.

I know the difference a good mattress makes when trying to get quality sleep. But I, personally, have a hard time swallowing the steep price tags for a bunch of metal springs and cotton stuffing. My mindset is also rooted in the fact that I have visited third world countries during my life. Once you’ve seen the poverty and despair that surrounds so many people’s lives in our world, it’s hard for me to spend so much money on such a luxurious comfort item.

Individually wrapped coils? Sleep numbers? Snore proof? I guess if you are going to buy a proper mattress, you should do your research. It is a lot of money and it is a product that should make you happy and last you for years.

I went the less expensive route recently when I upgraded my sleeping area. Instead of buying a new mattress for a minimum of $800 (and that was at one of those “Going out of business” places, which never seem to go out of business), I bought a thick foam pad to place on top of my old mattress. It was much more cost effective for me and my resting hours are much more enjoyable now.

Eat. Sleep. Repeat. Sleeping is a big part of all of our lives. And we should create as comfortable a nest for our rest as we can. I just want to know I’m getting my money’s worth, unicorn hair included or not. If you have any insights or a happy mattress buying story, throw me a line.