Toolin’ Through the Housewares Show for the Best New Gadgets
We share three of our favorites, each costing $10 or less.
by GadgetGals Nan and Jan
Our friends and family think we live exciting lives as the GadgetGals. For instance, whenever we tell them we’re going to the annual Housewares Show to check out what’s new in kitchenware, they get this envious wide-eyed look or give us a “wish-I-could-go” response.
Well, we’ve got news for them – and for you. Stalking the Housewares Show at Chicago’s expansive McCormick Place convention center is exciting and fun….and also a heck of a lot of work. The first thing each of us packs in our suitcase is a couple pair of comfortable shoes. This year, there were more than 2000 exhibitors, many displaying hundreds of different products.
A lot of footwork
Do the math in terms of miles walked (15 or more), manufacturers reps and PR people interviewed (hundreds), and new products tried, prodded, assembled and disassembled, and maybe you get some idea that there’s more to this than just a bit of fun.
We’re not complaining, mind you. The fact is we love mining and editing through what’s being touted as the newest and hottest in cookware. Our task is to identify the products that really deliver on their promise to consumers (so we can report on them for you) and separate them out from those that, in our opinion, need work.
So what are some trends we saw? Lots of “green” or eco-friendly. All kinds of drinking equipment and gear for water, coffee, tea, alchoholic beverages. Clever single-use to multipurpose tools.
Affordability was on our minds and also those of manufacturers, considering these tough times. Here are three of our favorites you can buy for $10 or less.
- Ginger Magic
If you’re a frequent fresh gingerroot user like us (sorry, the bottled kind just doesn’t do it for us), you know how frustrating it can be to get that thin peel off. OXO Good Grips, inventors of the mango seeder, comes to the rescue. Looking a bit like a short, chubby bottle opener, their new compact Ginger Peeler scrapes off the bitter ginger peel, even from small corners and crevices, slick as anything and always Oxo-comfortable to hold. Available at www.oxo.com for $7.
No surprise, eco-friendly is a hot trend in kitchenware today. Your best bets are products that not only use sustainable or recycled materials but that are also recyclable themselves so they won’t clog up landfills when you’re done with them. Case in point: the Verde Series of tools from grillware specialists Outset are made from 100 percent sustainable materials (bamboo, hemp, and recycled stainless steel), and the packaging is recyclable too. Sleek, handsome in design and grill-chef friendly, the spatula, locking tongs, fork, and grill brush make great gifts for Easter or Father’s Day. Even better, each retails for under $10. Available at Amazon, here’s the Verde stainless-steel locking tongs with bamboo handle.
Baking Tools That Whip Up Fun
We fell in love with Head Chefs whimsical “people” silicone tools when they were first introduced last year. Their tag line “It’s OK To Play With Your Food!” quickly sends the message that these clever tools will turn kids on to cooking. Heck with the kids. We think they’re just as cool for grown-ups (us included) who want to bring fun as well as function to our cooking. Now Fiesta Products, makers of the tools, are keeping the playtime going with eight new baking tools, from measuring cup and sifter to icing spreader and pastry brush. Comfortable to hold in your hand, each vibrant colored body is made of 100 percent durable silicone, with bendable arms and legs and suction-cup feet that enable the tool to stand on its own. Can’t you just see two or three of these brightly colored tools dancing on your countertop? All are dishwasher safe.: Sifter, icing spreader, whisk, measuring cup, spatula, pastry brush, spoon and turner retail for $10 each. Measuring spoon, child’s fork and spoon are $7 each. Available now at Amazon — here’s the Fiesta Head Chefs Silicone Pastry Brush.
(The Gadget Gals, Nancy Byal and Jan Hazard-Turner, appear here monthly, but write about kitchenwares at their web site, KitchenGadgetGals.com)