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    If the homepage lists "featured items," remember that this is actually a category. This category will have an ID that you can find in the Catalog->Manage Categories menu, and this ID must match the category ID listed in the "Static Block" that is enabled on your homepage for these "featured items."

    So, for example, if your "Featured Items" static block looks like this:
    <p>{{block type="catalog/product_list" category_id="13" template="catalog/product/featured_products.phtml"}}</p>

    Check to see if there are products added to category 13 (in the demo store it is "Electronics"), then reindex your site in "Index Management" and clear your cache. You should now see products in your static block on the homepage.