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2011 Trends - What The Housewares Show Foretells For Food Processing

March 28, 2011
The Housewares show, sponsored by the International Housewares Association, is only tangential to the food and beverage processing industry, but it's where you first see food trends like microwave ovens, crock pots and single-serve coffee machines, which of course do impact the foods you make. Our News and Trends editor reports on the newest trends for 2011.

"Housewares," sponsored by the International Housewares Assn (IHA), is one of my favorite shows. Although only tangential to the food & beverage processing industry, it's here you first see food trends like microwave ovens, crock pots and single-serve coffee machines, which of course do impact the foods you make.

Honeysuckle: The Official Color of 2011
Although green (and/or sustainability) was the word I heard most often at the recent International Home & Housewares Show, honeysuckle is the official color of 2011. According to Leatrice Eiseman, guru of color and executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, honeysuckle, a dynamic reddish pink, is uplifting, elevates our psyche beyond escape and instills confidence, courage and spirit to meet the exhaustive challenges that have become part of everyday life.

Sold-out for the first time in three years, the show rang up a 5 percent increase in total buyer attendance (21,000), with 1,951 exhibitors (also up 5 percent from last year) It's the place to be for trend watching because housewares manufacturers respond so quickly to consumer demand.

Another sign of optimism is that men's underwear sales are on an upswing (apparently, men stop buying it during a recession), kidded NPD's Peter Goldman. On a more serious note, he points out cookware and kitchen electrics are benefiting from the do-it-yourself-at-home trend, also influenced by cooking programs on TV.

"This has helped to create a growing generation of what we call aspirational chefs," he says.

Nesting at home continues to be the most important lifestyle trend as consumers continue to watch their pocketbooks. But they are finally replacing basic kitchen tools and pans with very colorful products offering multi-functional benefits that help consumers cook up healthier foods with less effort.

Competition with Starbucks as a destination is fierce, and the coffee connection has moved to the home in a big way as the pod people take over. In fact, there was even a Coffeestack from YouCopia Products Inc. to organize 40 pods (or K cups). Iced coffee was notable, too.

Saving space is top of mind, so mini-everything and single serve was a hot trend. So were sustainable/recyclable/energy-efficient products and materials, along with a panoply of outdoor and indoor grills, a resurgence of cast iron, energy-saving induction cook tops for the table and gadgets made of silicone. Panini makers were everywhere, as were fizzy beverage systems.

If I was a manufacturer of bottled water, I'd be worried. Consumers are turning to reuseable beverage containers. Lifetime Brands' Stackable Water Bottle, made of Eastman Tritan, incorporates an expanding lid system that locks the lid into the bottle creating an airtight seal. Cool Gear's EZ Freeze Pure Filtration includes a patented freezer stick (keeping the water cold) and filter system to reduce the chlorine taste and odor of tap water.

Lots of anniversaries were celebrated this year. Homer Laughlin China, maker of Fiesta dishes and the last major china manufacturer in the U.S., has been making china for 140 years. Its Fiesta brand also celebrated its 75 anniversary with the release of a limited edition plate and soup tureen in Marigold. We were treated to a custom cake created by Charm City Cakes, of "Ace of Cakes" fame… Regal Ware commemorated its 100th year with limited edition sets of American Kitchen Tri-Ply fry pans… Also celebrating their 100th birthdays were West Bend and Tramontina… It's been 90 years of success at the Vita-Mix Corp… Nordic Ware unveiled its Anniversary Bundt-lette Pan, celebrating 65 years.

DuPont celebrated 50 years of Teflon nonstick coating systems for cookware. Invented accidentally by Ray Plunkett, Teflon was kept secret during World War II. We had an opportunity to view fabulous prototype pans with vibrant colored Teflon interiors (my favorite is purple)… And All-Clad showcased its 40th anniversary with limited-edition cookware that features the company's anniversary logo.

"As consumers stop equating personal happiness with the consumption and purchase of material possessions, we need to recognize what the game-changing strategies for survival and success are," says IHA's consumer trend analyst Tom Mirabile, senior vice president, Global Trend and Design, Lifetime Brands Inc.

Ten new rules for a changing economy
  1. Age is a number, not a lifestyle predictor.
  2. Economic recovery will be slow, so success will come from taking market share from both competitors and non-competitors.
  3. Inspire "shopping and purchasing" versus "sharing and trading"
  4. Transparency is no longer an option, so manage your image like your manage your inventory.
  5. Create and enable family time, wellness and shared experiences in the home.
  6. Storage and space are a renewed concern in the American household.
  7. Put some fun back in function. Color and shape define style.
  8. Less glam and more classic styling with long-term appeal.
  9. Take "comfort food" and "creature comforts" to the next level.
  10. Technology increasingly changes how we shop, so don't get left behind.Explore partnerships.

Favorite Finds From the 2011 Housewares Show

Mini momentum
Nespresso USA Inc. debuted the Pixie, which takes up less time, space and energy consumption while still creating a perfect cup of coffee, both espresso and Lungo. The smallest machine ever created by Nespresso, its anodized aluminum side panels were inspired by industrial, minimalist design. And, it comes in six bold and vibrant colors. www.nespresso.com

Hearthware Home Products launches its NuWare Mini Infrared Oven (it even has a handle), designed to address the space limitations of dorms, offices, apartments and boats. No preheating is necessary, and you can broil, roast, grill, steam, fry, dehydrate and bake in it. www.hearthware.com

Fagor America Inc. offers a line of Mini Dutch Oven cookware under the Michelle B label (Chef Michelle Bernstein). Each 4-piece cast iron set (0.25-quart) of minis can be used to make soup, appetizers or dessert. The 4-piece Mini Dutch Oven set is crafted with multi-coated exterior coating to ensure strength. The interior coating of the cookware requires no additional seasoning like other cast iron pieces and provides a resilient non-stick surface that makes for easier clean up, and the enameled base is compatible with all cooktops especially induction surfaces. www.fagoramerica.com

Eades Appliance Technology introduced the SouVide Supreme Demi. The sou vjde technique involves vacuum-sealing food in airtight pouches, then simmering the pouches in a low-temperature water bath with a precisely maintained temperature throughout (typically between 140 and 190 degrees) the cooking time to lock in nutrients. With a countertop footprint the size of a Crock-Pot, the all-in-one Demi uses the same type of PID-controlled heating element contained in the larger version. It can cook 12 4-oz portions. www.souvidesupreme.com

A new collection of Lodge Iron Minis offers seven cute shapes. Curved handles are a nice touch and the Minis are perfect for serving up sides, desserts and snacks. Home cooks are making smaller entrees and serve side dishes for family meals or when entertaining, so the hot and cold retention and classic style of Lodge Cast Iron create great food presentations. www.lodgemfg.com

Multi-functional finds
Cuisinart's Blend and Cook Soup Maker, which both prepares and cooks soup, has an internal heater to keep the soup at the optimal temperature; Coffee Plus 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker with Hot Water System (it has a completely separate 56-oz water reservoir to let you simultaneously dispense coffee and hot water for tea at the same time). www.cuisinart.com

Lightweight and easy to use, the West Bend Electric Versatility Slow Cooker is a true one-pot-meal-maker. Use the nonstick, dishwasher-safe cooking pot to braise meat right on the stovetop and return it to the heating base for slow cooking. The base also doubles as a light-duty griddle. www.focuselectrics.com

Baby Chef's Ultimate Baby Food Center blends, chops, warms, steams, purees and reheats food for baby. Two side-by-side containers (BPA-free) allow you to puree and steam at the same time. It takes up very little space on the counter, and also functions as a baby bottle warmer. www.kidsline.com

Toasters aren't just for toast anymore. Uniting all the features consumers want most in a toaster, the Waring Pro Professional 2-and 4-Slice Cool-Touch Toasters can prepare frozen waffles, pancakes, French toast, frozen bagels, English muffins, and yes, toast. www.waringpro.com

DeLonghi is betting on the popularity of paninis. Its convection oven has a lever on the front that lowers a metal press inside the oven to make the perfect panini sandwich. If you remove a few shelves and racks, the oven can also cook a 12-inch pizza. www.shopdelonghi.com

Trends in the consumer marketplace
The Multigenerational Home, Anti-Consumerism, as Culinary Rebirth, the Multi-Faceted Meaning of Value and Reinventing Customer Relationships are the most important trends at work in the consumer marketplace of the future, according to a panel of experts –– Susan Yashinsky, macro trend forecaster, Sphere Trending; Michelle Lamb, co-founder, chairman and editorial director, The Trend Curve; and Robin Albing, founder and president, Albing International Marketing LLC -- led by master trendmeister Tom Mirabile, senior vice president, Global Trend and Design, Lifetime Brands Inc.

Multigenerational Home consists of Gen Y (ages 16-35) who are renting instead of owning a home, job hop frequently, are strongly peer influenced, and they are the least affected by brands. Very technologically oriented, they often carry a large amount of debt and are adopting new norms on marriage and children. "They demand to be seen as individuals but depend on each other to create a massive opinion on power of the crowd.

Gen X (ages 36-45) consists of families who are "overwhelmed and underwater," says Mirabile, often raising children, and who have a much stronger work life balance. "Yet many are still stuck in starter homes, and were hit hardest by the recession with mounting debt," says Mirabile.

Baby Boomers (ages 45-65) are the "do-it-for-me generation" who are downsizing, shifting priorities from work to real life and entering a second middle age. They are inspired by well ness and giving back to the community. "They are enjoying a level of health and intelligence their parents did not have," says Mirabile. "They are worried about retirement and healthcare costs, may be supporting children and aging parents."

Yashinsky noted that for all three groups there is a lack of trust in institutions and instead there's a trust in their community. They are buying less and looking for more meaning in what they buy.

Anti Consumerism is a social political movement, consisting of people (primarily Gen Y) who want to create overall happiness by promoting simplicity and to save the planet from collapse by slowing down consumption.

Culinary Rebirth is good news because it means that kitchens will continue to be eating and meeting spaces. "Mass media has made a more educated consumer in the kitchen than ever before. So there is an opportunity to bring new culinary experiences into the kitchen, all which require new cooking appliances, prep tools and recipe books," says Mirabile. "So address the new social aspect, entice your consumer and help them be creative and help them update traditional favorites. Bring more restaurant experiences into the home, whether it's coffee or Indian cuisine, and save them time and space and energy and effort"

The multi-faceted Meaning of Value. The reality is that the consumer has moved from value equals price plus quality to a multi-dimensional meaning, Mirabile noted. For example, 31 million households in the U.S. are a one-person household. "Be best of class regardless of the price point you operate in," he suggests.

Reinventing Customer Relationships is about technology and understanding that it's a game changer, Mirabile said. "We need to embrace multi channel strategies, such as the Internet (projected to be a $250 billion business), where almost half of retail sales are affected, either as research of point of sale."

And for home bakers, what could be better than the Mastrad Pastry Bag Set with Stand. The silicone bag set, ideal for icing, decorating, filling pastries, or creating hors d'oeuvres and appetizers. It's a piece of cake to use, a tip cap keeps the bag's contents moist between uses, and easy to clean bags can be washed by hand or in the top of the dishwasher). www.mastrad.us

Chef Cat Cora demonstrated Cat Cora Starfrit Alternative Cookware. Made of 99 percent recycled aluminum steel, the line is environmentally friendly, ceramic-surfaced to retain heat longer, and non-stick. The handles are attached by rivets, which will never loosen and allows the pans to be placed in an oven set at any temperature. You can even broil in them. The stay-cool handle is constructed from cast stainless steel with a silicone grip. But the Cat Cora pièce de résistance is the Cook'n' Serve 2.5 quart casserole, an 18/10 recycled stainless steel pot, which after cooking, is placed in a sustainable bamboo centerpiece, keeping the food longer and allowing you to serve from it at table. www.catcora.com

M.E. Heuck went carbon neutral (certified by First Carbon Solutions and the Carbon Neutral Co.) with its Zeroca line of cookware and kitchen gadgets. Made of 100 percent recycled steel and farm-managed bamboo the line has a carbon footprint of net zero. www.heuck.com

Traditional non-stick fry pans containing polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), are manufactured with Perflueoroctoanoic acid (PFOA) and are limited in heat resistance – only up to 500-degrees F without damaging the product as well as hurting your health. Made in Belgium, GreenPan is the first cookware company to create PTFE-free and PFOA-free non-stick products, truly transforming the entire cookware market. Thanks to the excellent heat capturing ability of Thermolon (a green non-stick coating technology that uses 60 percent less CO2 emission), less power is needed to reach high temperatures and cooking with it requires less energy. In addition to its healthier attributes, GreenPan reduces packaging material, printing ink and printing colors, and just about all raw materials used in production are recycled. I had an opportunity to cook using a Copenhagen pan, which has an oven safe stainless steal handle. It was fabulous to use and incredibly easy to clean. The company has a variety of styles and colors including a Cast Iron Collection (100% recycled post-consumer cast iron made 100% in the USA). www.green-pan.com

Grilling masters
Do you dream of Brazilian barbeque? Do those skewers of flavorful meat found at popular churrascarias scattered around the country have you fiddling with your backyard BBQ in your best effort to replicate? No more. High Country Industries Inc. brings the Grillex patented Brazilian barbeque grill to you. A modern day twist to Churrasco (pronounced shoo-RAS-koo), the famed outdoor cooking style that creates the mouthwatering flavor, aroma and taste of Brazilian barbeque at home, Grillex is a compact smokeless grill that is placed over a gas burner, and the food is placed on skewers and in baskets suspended vertically around the heat source. A circular diffuser at the base of the Grillex evenly convects the heat creating a perfect environment for cooking any variation of meats, vegetables, fruits and more, so a full meal for four can be served in just 20 minutes. www.grillex.com

Masterbuilt Manufacturing Co. CEO John McLemore showcased Masterbuilt's new Butterball Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer XL (yes, it's safe to use indoors) and can accommodate up to a 20-lb turkey. The dishwasher safe lid, drain valve and removable porcelain coated inner pot makes for easy clean up. Or Masterbuilt's Electric Smokehouse w/Remote, with a digital thermostat and remote timer, allows you to simply throw in your meat and the smoker does the rest. And McLemore has a great new cookbook, Dadgum, That's Good! www.masterbuilt.com

An update on the original charcoal grill released by Bodum in 1962, the Fyrkat Picnic Charcoal Grill features a unique funnel shape designed to ensure optimal heat while maintaining complete safety and stability. Due to its streamlined shape, the cone-shaped grill offers two grilling options: a traditional grill top along with a removable, battery-operated rotisserie, housed in the lower chamber. Made of enamel-coated steel with chrome-plated steel legs and heat-resistant silicone handles, it comes in red, orange, green and black. www.bodum.com

Partnering with the Viking Range Corp.‘s Culinary Group, Chef Emeril Lagasse's Emeril Gas Grill, built from rugged steel components, is designed to withstand the elements and provide years of grilling enjoyment. Four powerful burners provide up to 48,000 BTUs of searing heat, evenly distributed over 589 sq. inches of cooking surface. Seven stainless steel flavor generator plates catch drippings to create more smoke and smokier flavor, and also channel grease neatly into the removable drip tray for easier cleanup. Convenient extras like condiment and paper towel storage, accessory tool hooks, and locking rubber wheels combine to take backyard performance to the next level.  www.emerils.com

Healthy is as healthy does
T-Fal Actifry looks like a deep fryer, but just add one tablespoon of oil and you can cook most anything – meat, seafood, vegetables, fruits and pasta. This healthier alternative has a paddle that mixes the food and a heat pulse system blows the heat around so the food cooks evenly. Dishwasher safe, it's easy to use and clean. A recipe book is also included. www.tefal.com

Mastrad debuted its new 11-inch round silicone Chip Maker. Slice potatoes, place them in a single layer, put the chip holder device in the microwave and -- without oil -- you end up with crispy, fat-free healthy potato (or any kind of vegetable) chips. www.mastrad.us

Healthy Steps by Jokari features portion control kitchen tools that simplify serving sizes. Healthy Steps Pasta Server helps scoop up cooked pasta more easily. The server indicates the proper serving sizes of both pasta and sauce -- one scoop gets it right every time. Nut Bowl and Scoop make it easy to enjoy nuts in portion-controlled servings. The bowl's lid scoops nuts from bulk packaging into the nut bowl. The bowl measures one or two servings -- just right for a healthy snack. And Healthy Steps Salad Dressing Lid screws onto the top of most salad dressing bottles. Squeezing the bottle fills a chamber on top of the lid with a two-tablespoon serving -- the perfect portion to top off a healthy salad. www.myhealthysteps.com

Family fun
Make your own ice cream flavors with Hamilton Beach Ice Cream Maker. Put the bowl in the freezer for a few hours. Meanwhile, mix together fresh ingredients, and add to the cold freezer bowl. Turn on the machine for about six minutes and you have personalized ice cream flavors. www.hamiltonbeach.com

In the mid-1970s West Bend introduced the original Stir Crazy electric corn popper. Today Americans consume about 17 billion quarts of popcorn each year. West Bend corn poppers satisfy this appetite by making popcorn an inexpensive wholesome treat that's easy to pop and fun to eat. The 6-quart Stir Crazy Deluxe Corn Popper has a non-stick coated heating plate and is now removable for easy cleaning, and the new stir rod pops at higher volume for more popcorn. Heat resistant handles make it safer and it contains a butter well. Just pop and serve your buttered popcorn and enjoy the movie. www.westbend.com

Fizzy water
iSi Twist ‘n Sparkle, a beverage carbonating system gives a new twist on home carbonation -- designed to fizz up boundless beverages, by adding shimmer and effervescence to any drink. www.isinorthamerica.com

SodaStream unveiled the Fizz to its home soda portfolio. A patented Fizz Chip displays the amount of CO2 in the carbonator (which powers the home soda maker) and shows whether the fizz is light, medium or strong. You can add flavors or carbonate water or soda. www.sodastreamusa.com

Easy does it
From World Kitchen, Pyrex No-Leak-Lids products feature a functional and contemporary design that will not absorb stains or odors, are BPA-free, leak-proof and the airtight plastic lids have a vent for microwaving quickly and easily – great idea. Available in both round and rectangle shapes they conveniently nest and stack. Your microware will thank them. www.worldkitchen.com

DKB Household USA has partnered with Jamie Oliver for a line of kitchen tools and gadgets. His Tilt & Mix Bowls (set of three) are constructed of stainless steel with slip-resistant rubber on the bottom of each bowl. You tilt the bowl and the flat spot on the base allows for whisking or mixing at a 45-degree angle. www.jamie-olivers-kitchen-kit.com

Great coffee starts with fresh ground beans. With this concept in mind, Philips Saeco developed its Coffeemaker with Built-In Grinder. The adjustable, conical burr grinder offers the flexibility to brew coffee to your exact preference, while the innovative anti-clogging technology provides hassle-free maintenance. External venting reduces humidity within the machine and prevents clogging of coffee grounds, while the grinder chute is easily accessed through a lockable, clear plastic cover on the top of the unit, making it easy to see when cleaning is necessary. www.saeco-usa.com

Obol's Swoop n Scoop is the first product that solves the frustrating problem of soggy cereal. The one-piece, dishwasher safe spiral slide design keeps cereal crispy until mixed by the user. And its patented thumb-shelf makes it easy to hold while watching TV or eating in bed. www.obol.co

Salad makers take up unnecessary space, so PMI Aladdin created a BPA-free, dishwasher -safe Collapsible Salad Set with containers to keep the ingredients separate and a dual- action colander. www.aladdin-pmi.com Progressive 4-quart Collapsible Produce Keeper allows you to wash and store produce in a single container containing a water reservoir to keep it fresh and a vent for airflow. www.progressiveintl.com

For Fido, Simple Human's Pet Food Can with wheels stores food, and an ergonomic lock-tight handle keeps it fresh. A scoop attaches for easy access, and the inner bucket is removable. www.simplehuman.com

Gadgets galore
Fitting comfortably in the palm of your hand, the Farberware Container Peeler from Lifetime Brands makes peeling vegetables mess-free and eliminates the need to peel vegetables directly over a trash can, cutting board or bowl. The peels go directly into the container as you cut; so simply open the container when done to dispose of the peels. www.Lifetimebrands.com

Ideal for outdoor picnics, Component Design Northwest (CDN) introduced the Infrared Gun. Just point it at the food, press the trigger, and within a second, it provides an accurate surface temperature reading ensuring food safety. It uses two AAA batteries, is made of ABS plastic and comes in bright Construction Yellow with black accents. www.cdn-timeandtemp.com

Zoku Tools by Zoku LLC allow you to make unique pops. Just pour in the juice, and make flavored core pops such as creamsicles, apply fruit slices and stenciled cutouts and you can make pops with cool angles – geometry was never so much fun. The kit includes three drip-free Zoku cups, one heart and one star stencil, one fruit wand, one siphon and one angle tray. www.zokuhome.com

Zyliss Smart Guard Gourmet Mandoline with technology that keeps blades protected and away from the hand by covering the blade (or blade insert) until actively exposing the German-made stainless steel V-blades by the user, who must press and hold a squeeze handle to activate and allow slicing. Basters can be messy, but the dishwasher safe Zyliss Squeezy Baster flexible silicone body holds, and then releases juices with a squeeze-and-release valve that evenly distribute the juices. The bristles are also made of silicone and can withstand high temperatures. Zyliss StrongBoy Nutcracker lets you crack nuts using one handed lever action and it works beautifully. www.zylissusa.com

Oxo's Container Grater is ideal if you want to measure what you are grating and dispense as needed. Bi-directional sharp stainless steel grating surface is ideal for medium grating of hard cheeses, chocolate, carrots, zucchini and more. www.oxo.com

For those of you with a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer, you will be happy to hear the company has come out with a unique dishwasher-safe Flex Edge Beater, which uses a flexible edge on one side to gently and automatically scrape the sides of the mixer bowl while mixing. No more having to stop the mixer and hand scrape. We've been waiting for this! www.kitchenaid.com

Parasia's Automatic Turkey Thermometer (shaped like a turkey) has a heat resistant cable and magnetic back. A light flashes and alarms sound when the turkey is done. http://parasia-international.com

Kiddin' around
Perfect for mini chefs, Baby Cakes Cupcake Maker, Donut Maker and Whoopie Pie Maker create adorable tiny, individual versions of those snacks in just a few minutes. www.thebabycakesshop.com

Tailor Made Product Inc.'s Curious Chef expanded its line to include the Fruit and Veggie Prep Kit to encourage fruit and veggie consumption for kids four and older. It features a veggie scrubber, nylon knife, mixing spoon, vegetable peeler, melon baler an, apple slicer, stickers and a colorful shopping list. The mini-tools meet CPSIA lead and phthalate limits. www.tmadeproducts.com

Cuisipro presented Snap-Fit Pop Molds that make it easy to create frozen pops. The molds snap together to pop into the freezer, to serve and to snore. Wood sticks are not needed since the sticks are integrated into the design of a sailboat, robot and rocket. Kids can create any flavor using candied citrus peels or chunks of fruits or can layer in yogurt, pudding, ice cream or jelly. Best of all, the drip catching handles eliminate sticky messes. www.cuisipro.com

Euro-Ware has licensed Entenmann's Bakeware including the three-piece Little Bites, smaller-portioned kid-friendly bakeware pieces for young, aspiring chefs or for adults who prefer smaller portions. www.entenmannsbakeware.com

Passionate mom Vianka Perez Belyea and business-savvy Tavinder Phull have created a line of attractive and eco-friendly safety products that protect toddlers from bumps, scratches, and other danger around the home. Rhoost products are all BPA, lead, and phthalate-free and are 100% recyclable. Rhoost has been awarded the Pediatricians' Childproofing Product Award for 2010. www.rhoost.com

Diamond in the rough
Victorinox Commercial Cutlery introduces Victorinox Ceramic Knives with Fibrox handles. The blades are made from zirconium oxide powder, compressed at high pressures and sintered in furnaces at temperatures of more than 2,700 degrees, so the hardness of the blade is comparable to that of a diamond. www.swissarmy.com

As the kitchen emerges as the central hub of the home and both the novice cook and expert foodie constantly sharpen their cooking skills, the need for functional, stylish and well-designed tools has never been greater! Bodum's combination of an extremely hard and sharp ceramic blade with an ergonomic, non-slip silicone handle accentuated by a dotted touch pad, creates a knife that stands up to any cutting task while remaining safe and comfortable to use. The knives, available in black, red, orange, green and off-white handles, in the Bistro collection include a 6" and 7" Chef's Knife; a 6" and 7" Bread Knife; a 6.5" Santoku Knife; a 4.5" Tomato Knife; 3" Paring/Vegetable Knife; a 4" Firm Cheese Knife and 3.5" Fresh Cheese Knife. Additionally, the white ceramic blades are non-corrosive and neutral in taste, preventing foods from absorbing odors or becoming discolored after having been cut. Made of BPA-free plastic with silicone feet for keeping it firmly in place, the Bistro Knife Block is so cool. It features an interior made up of a myriad of very fine plastic bristles, allowing any knife to sit in any configuration within the block – tightly and securely. www.bodum.com

Chef Guy Fieri, with his signature spiked hair and tattoos, hosts three popular shows on the Food and is the host of the game show A Minute to Win It on NBC. He has worked with Ergo Chef to design The Knuckle Sandwich Series of Knives. Made of High Carbon German Stainless Steel for stain resistance and durability, they have a patented ergonomic design to create an extension of your hand for comfort, and the blades are precision heat treated to 56RC to keep a great edge. The knife handles feature a wild signature flame-wave handle design, accented with a polished star to complete Guy's look and the blades are artistically-etched with the "Guy Fieri Knuckle Sandwich" logo as a bold expression of Fieri's Hot Rod/Rock ‘n' Roll attitude. His newest innovation is The Beast, a 6.5" Meat Cleaver. The handle has a large crisscross crusher on the end for pulverizing nuts, and garlic, etc., and a star shaped hole in the blade makes for easy hanging, a red edge guard protects the knife edge, and it weighs in at a whopping 1 pound. "I designed the line on a cocktail napkin," he told us. Incidentally, Fieri predicts "low and slow" BBQ will become more popular than "hot and fast" grilling. www.ergochef.com

And speaking of rock and roll, Lodge Manufacturing debuted the coolest cast iron guitar skillet that measures 10.75 inches long by 4.67 inches wide. It would be a perfect gift – hint, hint. www.lodgemfg.com

New technology
Phase Brew 8-cup Coffee Brewer by Bunn heats and holds water until it reaches the perfect temperature – so it can be spray-released, instead of slow-dripped, over coffee grounds to achieve ideal flavor extraction. This innovative technology results in a perfect pot of coffee with rich flavor and amazing aroma. www.BunnAtHome.com

Weird, but notable
Talking Timerz talk and sometimes sing. Each timer comes with five to six custom one-liners and melodies. The user can choose their favorite to play when the timer goes off. Characters include a cat (It's burning! And I really don't care), dog, rooster, chef, hippie and Buddha baby. www.talkingtimerz.com

Toy designer Joel Shrockie presented the clever, patent-pending Fish Clip, a tight-gripping clip great for keeping bags closed. Its locking jaws keep a tight hold on the bag until you press its fin, which is a cleverly disguised release button. And when you aren't using it, the magnetic clip will stick to your refrigerator. www.shrockie.com

Quiver Tree International solves the "Is this my glass?" dilemma with the Drink Marker. Mark your drink with the non-toxic metallic markers. The marks wipe off the class with a little cooking oil. www.thedrinkmarker.com

And if you want to save some dough to buy these marvelous housewares, Cisco Sales Corp.'s Digi-Piggi is the ticket. The piggy bank counts your savings for you, and comes with an innovative electronic LCD digital readout on its snout. For every coin dropped into the bank, the LCD displays its value by blinking three times followed by the total amount saved. www.ciscousa.com

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