Basic upends spectacular in housewares

By MARCELLA S. KREITER  |  March 14, 2010 at 6:58 PM
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CHICAGO, March 14 (UPI) -- With the economy still taking a toll on consumer pocketbooks, exhibitors at the International Housewares Association trade show in Chicago trended toward the basic rather than the spectacular.

Cramming more into smaller spaces, OBH Nordica introduced a toaster-radio combo that will retail for $139.99. The toaster is very retro in shape but updated with black, white, orange or red fronts.

"We wanted to make breakfast fun," spokeswoman Arene Guo said.

Making things fun for kids in the kitchen is Yvette Garfield of Handstand Kids.

Garfield, a children's rights lawyer, has a collection of cookbooks coupled with other paraphernalia to get children ages 3 to 12 interested in not only cooking, but other areas of the world.

The cookbooks involve the stories of five characters and their adventures in cooking Italian, Chinese and Mexican foods (French cooking is in development). There are also language lessons so children can learn the words to describe each utensil in the appropriate language.

"I wanted to make cooking fun for kids," Garfield said, adding she named the company Handstand Kids because "I can still do handstands."

Along the same lines, Sassafras offers a line of pint-sized baking pans and kitchen tools for the young cook while Eureka Concepts introduced a set of plastic dishes and utensils compatible with Legos -- not only to keep little ones busy at the table but to keep food on the table rather than the floor. And BabyCakes has an electric mini-cupcake-maker that bakes eight cupcakes in 5 to 8 minutes.

Tired of the backyard barbeque? The Grillex Brazillian cooker is about to hit the market. The stove top device uses convection technology to cook an array of foods from pretzels to vegetables and meats. Butterball is bringing the turkey fryer indoors with an electric model that sits on the tabletop.

When it comes to color, plain white is making an elegant comeback for fine china. Another color that's resurfacing is avocado green. KitchenAid is taking bright a step further, introducing metallic reds and blues.

Revol has a new twist on the coffee cup: The company is debuting ceramic cups that look like partially crushed paper cups in a variety of colors. The cups also can be used as bakeware for souffles.

The show runs through Tuesday at McCormick Place.

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