'Oprah's Favorite Things 2012' special: Military spouses get a $5,000 TV, a trip to Fiji, and a lot of truffles

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Oprah Winfrey surprises 30 military spouses, all finalists in the Military Spouse of the Year Award, with her favorite things in Washington, D.C.

How much does Oprah love truffles? Remember her guest appearance on "30 Rock," in which she giddily told Liz Lemon how much she loved saltwater taffy, sweater capes, and calypso music? If you swap in truffle pasta, truffle sausage, and truffle butter, Oprah's "30 Rock" enthusiasm was not an exaggeration.

She and TV chef Curtis Stone bonded over their love of all things truffle-flavored on her "Oprah's Favorite Things 2012" special on OWN Sunday night, and she included seven truffle-flavored products on the list of goodies she endorsed as holiday gifts this year.

The first recipients of the loot on her Favorite Things collection, which were featured in the TV special and the December issue of O: The Oprah Magazine: 30 military wives and one husband whose daily sacrifices make them as heroic as the spouses they support.

Winfrey probably should have included a box of luxury tissues on her list, in fact, as the military spouses sharing touching tales of raising their families in between multiple deployments and in some cases caring for wounded veterans.

"There's no one in the world more deserving of the day you're about to have than you are," Winfrey told the surprised group, which was gathered under the guise of watching an episode of the new OWN reality series "Married to the Army: Alaska."

Instead, between her chatting with the group -- each a nominee for or a winner of an award from Military Spouse magazine -- about their lives of deployments and, in some cases, the care of their wounded-warrior spouses, Winfrey told the group they were there to receive her Favorite Things.

[Related: Check out photos from 'Oprah's Favorite Things 2012']

The audience of ladies and gentleman -- the sole male spouse was 2012 Military Spouse of the Year Jeremy Hilton -- included women like Karen Guenther, a military-hospital nurse and 2011 Marine Corps Spouse of the Year nominee who had helped raise and distribute an incredible $66 million in funds to wounded military personnel.

Guenther and the rest of the audience reacted like previous Oprah's Favorite Things recipients have -- with whoops, hollers, and tears -- and one of the first gifts to universally wow the spouses was a Tempur-Cloud Supreme Mattress from TempurPedic, complete with 600-thread-count Egyptian-cotton sheets from Macy's Hotel Collection of bedding. Total value: $2,699 for the mattress, plus $1,500 for the bedding set.

 

More gifts with a genuine wow factor: an Octane elliptical trainer ($3,099); a Jetson E-Bike in hot pink and other colors ($1,800); Microsoft Surface tablets ($499); and a Bose VideoWave II high-definition TV, home theater, and music system in one 46-inch package ($4,999).

The group also fawned over a $190 Deux Lux glitter and vegan-"leather" weekend satchel, which they can put to good use right away with Oprah's final surprise gift of the evening.

"If there's one once-in-a-lifetime thing that you deserve more than anybody else in the world, that is an all-expense paid trip for two to the island of Fiji," Winfrey told the excited gathering about the six-day, five-night vacation she was giving them.

She asked that they all celebrate their windfall of loot with another item on her Favorite Things list: a toast with her favorite tequila, a $275 bottle of Casa Dragones.

 

It's not overstating her impact to say that companies from Fat Witch brownies and Garrett popcorn to Spanx undergarments and Kyocera ceramic knives owe a good deal of their success to Winfrey and her annual Favorite Things lists.

So while it might initially seem like overkill to do a two-hour special on a gift guide, "Oprah's Favorite Things 2012" was an entertaining behind-the-scenes peek at how the multimedia mogul and the staffers at her magazine and her company work months to put together her trademark collections, well aware of how much a spot on the list can mean to a business.

The special also revealed just how involved Winfrey is in putting the Favorite Things list together, and refreshingly, just how enthusiastic she is about some of the products.

 

She liked a pair of colorful gloves her staff showed her, until she deemed the price tag -- more than $500 -- too high (for readers' wallets, of course, not hers). She also gushed endlessly about a jar of Earth Balance Coconut & Peanut Spread ($15 for a two-jar gift pack), and a bottle of H20+ Sea Moss Replenishing Body Wash ($17), which, she told the audience, she discovered when "I went to David Copperfield's island."

A sentence only Oprah could utter.

Meanwhile, the strangest item on Winfrey's 2012 Favorite Things list: an $85 box of Brooklyn Piggies Gourmet Pigs in Blankets, which her staff referred to as "artisanal snacks."

See Oprah's complete Favorite Things list of 60 items here.

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