"Welcome to the Experience" 2012 Housewares show

Dude, Check Out Those Spoons
“It’s just sex, you know,” said Mr. Mirabile, a handsome fellow who served as the show’s lifestyle trend forecaster and sported four earrings, a gray goatee and various pastels. “It’s sex on a spoon.”

The steamy utensil was part of the Savora line, due on shelves later this year from Lifetime Brands, the giant housewares and kitchenwares company where Mr. Mirabile works as senior vice president for global trends and design. One of the target groups for such an implement, he said, are men, who have increasingly become active in house-outfitting decisions, despite the longstanding sense that the home is a female domain.

Indeed, it wasn’t just the spoons that were dripping with testosterone at this year’s show, which ended a four-day run on Tuesday at McCormick Place, the city’s lakeside convention center. Signs of manliness were evident throughout the sprawling halls, and while many of the man-items were conventionally stereotypical (see beer and barbecue, below), others seemed aimed at building the better dude — or at least protecting clumsy beasts like this reporter from themselves.

Take the Wired Beans collection of Scotch and sake glasses shown at the Japanese pavilion, an elegant assortment of plain design and more elaborate lacquered tumblers that come in a special wooden box and carry a lifetime guarantee: you break it, they’ll replace it. At $58 to $237 a glass, wholesale, that seems only fair. (One catch: The shards have to be mailed from inside Japan, but after spending $237 for one glass, what’s a ticket to Tokyo?)

Similar man-proofing could be seen at the display for the Qooq (pronounced cook), a French gadget that combines a tablet computer loaded with step-by-step video instructions for more than 1,000 recipes with a splash-resistant plastic hull. “It is resistant to solids, to liquids,” said Jean-Yves Hepp, the company’s president. “Even to wine.”

Refinement was also on the mind of the exhibitors at the booth of Wine Aromas, a Las Vegas-based company that sells kits of fragrances to help striving oenophiles identify the scents in a good glass of wine, a list that includes a surprising range of things, be it leather or banana.


Yes, said Sebastien Gavillet, the company’s chief wine officer: “An exceptional year of Bordeaux will have it.” As will your average smoothie, but moving on.

Of course, after all that drinking and cooking, a fella might need a strong cup of coffee. And behold: the Jura company’s Giga 5 machine, a computerized, automated coffee machine that will retail here for $5,500, and includes a dual grinder and powerful “thermal blocks” to create the perfect cappuccino. At that price, acknowledged Saundra Rich, the national sales training and event coordinator for Jura, the machine is “obviously going to be for a very special kind of customer.” But it is well worth it, she added.

“It creates an entire barista in a box,” she said, conjuring up both the image of an imprisoned Starbucks employee and something a caffeinated mime might try.

WITH a motto that sounded as if it were borrowed from a Jimi Hendrix conference — “Welcome to the Experience” — the 2012 trade show was, as usual, a display of both the power of innovation and the endless optimism of salesmen, with rollouts of brand-name housewares and more wing-and-a-prayer endeavors (high-end toilet plungers, bow ties for your liquor, edible soap).

Three of those dreamers — Stephen Bruner, Eric Miller and Ben Hewitt — gave up stable careers in marketing and human resources for a life in small business. Their invention might have won the show’s prize for strangest name, if there were one: the Corkicle, a gel-filled wand you freeze and then put in an open bottle of wine to keep it cool.

Where’d they come up with that?

“It came to me out of the clear blue sky,” said Mr. Hewitt, who described the company as “three guys who just really like wine way too much.” Read more Article from the NY Times
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