SHOW TIME!

The Windy City. The Cubs. The Magnificent Mile. Pizza and hot dogs. The Blues Brothers…

…the Housewares Show!

The International Housewares Show, held in Chicago every March, gathers tens of thousands of kitchenware-focused store owners, product manufacturers, catalogue marketers, and online retailers from all over the world for three hectic days in one spot: McCormick Place, certainly the largest building complex I’ve ever been in.

My fellow test baker Susan Reid, who once lived in Chicago, said that she always found it discouraging to pass the place on her daily jog. “You’d jog, and jog, and jog, and 15 minutes later, you’d STILL be jogging past the darned McCormick!”

Yes, it’s that big. According to the literature, McCormick Place covers more than 100 acres. And I feel like I walked every one of them.

So what did I see at the show?

Lightweight, colorful, unbreakable mixing bowls – tiny to huge – made from 100% recycled materials… An ergonomic lemon juicer that feels REALLY good in your hand…

Step #1: Drive 80 miles from my home to the airport at 5 a.m. Saturday. Fly 2 1/2 hours to Chicago. Step off the plane, and what’s the first thing I see?

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Didn’t I just leave Vermont? Ben & Jerry’s, you’re ubiquitous. AND delicious.

Linked non-stick English muffin rings… A surprising book: Mary Poppins in the Kitchen, by P.L. Travers (Did you know this was part of the original series? I didn’t)…

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Find the train from Midway Airport to Chicago. Sure, I could have spent $22 and taken the hotel shuttle right to my destination. Or with a little extra effort (exercise is good!) I could spend $2.25 to take the commuter train.

When you own your own business – as all of us employee-owners do, here at King Arthur – that’s a no-brainer.

A hand-held, adjustable, non-scary mandoline… A flexible spatula perfectly sized to pick up and move one hot, delicate cookie at a time…

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WHOA! There’s no place in Vermont that looks like this.

Acrylic (no scraped knuckles) four-sided box grater that folds absolutely flat – and I mean FLAT – for drawer storage… French ficelle pan – to bake four “demi-baguettes…”

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Thankfully, there’s no place in Vermont with gas prices like this, either… I feel your pain, Chicago.

A microwave-safe acrylic liquid measuring cup with an absolutely non-drip spout and ingenious handle that hooks securely over your fingers, so you can’t possibly drop it… A bread machine that bakes four baguettes IN the machine. Well, they’re not really baguettes; more like long rolls. But still…

As I boarded the train, I noticed some older women with shamrocks painted on their faces. “Cute,” I thought. “They must be going to a party.”

When I got off the train and emerged in downtown Chicago, I was met with green everywhere. People wearing green. People painted green. Green cars and buses. Green balloons. Politicians all in green.

Sure and begorrah, it was Chicago’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, and I’d unknowingly walked right into the middle of the festivities!

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And that’s not all I walked into. Try 40°F; SCREAMING 50mph winds, and rain. These kids waiting for the parade were game, but I noticed they’d all retreated to their warm cars when I looped back around after taking a few pictures.

For you fancy decorators: a pair of tweezers with bowl-shaped ends specially designed to pick up tiny little sugar pearls and other sugar decos… “Towels to aprons” – turn any towel into an apron (then back to a towel), instantly…

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You can’t see it in this picture, but I’m betting that lots of the Shannon Rovers Pipe Band’s knees were knocking as they “warmed” up for the parade.

A wacky-but-wonderful cake slicer/server… A  French glass tabletop butter churner… Mini spatulas, all shapes…

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Did I mention it was windy?

A 7 1/2-quart dough rising container that’s flat, not tall – perfect for storing no-knead dough in the fridge… A fresh herb mill – just twist to finely (and beautifully) chop parsley, cilantro, basil, or any other favorite…

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After the parade, I wandered over to my favorite Chicago building: the historic Tribune building, now the WGN radio building. This fascinating structure has bits of history from all over the world embedded in its foundation.

I took my usual leisurely stroll around it, touching part of a temple from Peking’s Forbidden City… looking up at a stone from London’s House of Parliament… Fort Sumter… Notre Dame… Lincoln’s tomb… the Arc de Triomphe… a Cambodian temple… Norway’s Trondheim Cathedral… Roman ruins… and a heartbreaking new addition: the World Trade Center.

If you ever visit Chicago, don’t miss the Tribune Building. It’s striking.

Flexible silicone liquid measuring cups with ALL the markings (1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, etc.); squeeze to direct liquid exactly where you want it… Biodegradable plastic storage – when you’re done with it, you don’t need to feel guilty that it’ll live in the landfill forever…

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Walking back to the hotel, I saw this storefront across six lanes of traffic. Well, how could I resist? After gingerly hop-skip-jumping my across the street(s), I discovered not steamed buns filled with sweet bean paste, but a display of traditional decorated wedding cakes – which you can just make out in the left-hand window.

Sigh… That’s OK. I’ll find a Corner Bakery (and maybe even a corner bakery) later.

You know our Wisconsin bowls? If you love what they’re made of, you’ll love the tools, pizza peels, and prep boards we’ve found made out of that same wood-based, sustainably produced, dishwasher-safe, non-staining material… A peach pitter/wedger – really!

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Next up: pizza! Wht’s a visit to Chicago without pizza? Many of you may remember I was quizzing you on your favorite Chicago pizza spots awhile ago. Lou Malnati’s was one of several places that kept coming up. And, since there was a Lou’s just 2 blocks from my hotel, that was the one I chose to try.

Garlic tools galore… Classic French glass oven-safe ramekins, for individual desserts… Springform pans, numerous sizes… An adjustable silicone pie shield…

I ordered a 6” deep-dish “Lou.” Here’s how the menu describes it:

“World Famous Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza: The ‘Lou’ – A pizza so good we gave it his name! Fresh spinach, mushrooms and sliced tomatoes covered with a blend of mozzarella, romano and cheddar cheese. No substitutions please.”

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I couldn’t even wait to get back to the hotel before opening the box to see how it looked. Oh, yes…

Back in my room, I’d planned on eating half right away, and saving the rest for dinner. But I ended up eating the whole thing at once.

And the verdict? Pretty good. Not-knock-my-socks off good; I really believe the version I made in a recent blog is better. But definitely tasty, and light – the freshness of the vegetables is apparent.

A tool that looks like a palm-sized salad spinner – add an onion or other hard veggies, yank the cord a couple of times, and voilà! Perfectly chopped veggies, in like 5 seconds… Dual-container oil & vinegar spritzer…

Whew, long day. Off to bed.

Next morning – show time! I hop on the shuttle bus to McCormick Place, unsure of the hour. Let’s see, my iPhone says 7:45 a.m., but is that in Vermont, or Chicago? Is it standard time, or Daylight Savings (since Daylight Savings happened in the middle of the night)?

I ask the bus driver what time it is. He looks at his wristwatch: 7:45 a.m.

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It’s still a bit shadowy outside, and the Sunday morning streets are deserted.

An easy, inexpensive tool for sharpening your own scissors… A double mini-burger press for making sliders… AWESOME new cupcake papers…

However, it isn’t long before I see more people in one place than I’ve seen since my last Red Sox game.

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Let the race begin! Doors open at 8:30 a.m., but the crowd gathers well in advance. Bus after bus pulls up to the garage and disgorges its load of showgoers, who head towards the entrance in an unending stream.

A hearth bread pan (for boule-shaped loaves) and crown muffin pan – made in the U.S.A. by our favorite pan supplier… Tangy-sweet garlic hot pepper jam… New, stiff cardboard-like bake-and-give pans, made from recycled materials…

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Waiting for the fun to begin, I perused some of the signage show officials had put up on various walls. Congratulations, Betty – you’re older than my mom! But sorry, King Arthur Flour (est. 1790) beat you to the punch by a century or so.

Microwave baking pans. Yes, microwave baking; trust me, it’s coming… An extra-long, extra-sturdy (read: STOP bending those kitchen spoons!) ice cream spade… GADGETS GALORE…

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At 8:30 the escalators open, and up they come…

A glove with gripping palm for opening stubborn jars… Stoneware monkey bread pan, in its classic tall/slim configuration… Tired of plastic? Classic, nostalgic-look square glass storage containers with snap-on lids.

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…down the Grand Concourse, and – at last! – into any of the three huge show areas.

Alas! This is where my photo essay must end. I’m an obedient person; I follow the rules:

“Attendee Code of Conduct: Attendees are not allowed to bring any photography equipment on the exhibit floor or to take photos of any booth or product… Confiscation of memory cards… expulsion from the show…”

Sigh.

All kinds of interesting cake pans… A cool slicer for slicing big, flat loaves (like ciabatta) lengthwise, to make pan bagna… Sustainably produced (fill in the blank)…

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Well, I’m not THAT obedient. I tried, I really did. But then, I found myself at the RSVP booth. They’re one of our long-time vendors. I confessed I WISHED I could take some pictures. And I was, shall we say, given permission to do so. Which I did, most surreptitiously. Mea culpa.

This is typical of what I spent 2 days (and our product development team, a full 3 days) carefully looking at, talking about, and ruminating over. Anything and everything to do with food and kitchens. If you’re a foodie, like we are, it’s sheer heaven.

Fun and fancy gift bags for your holiday baking… Speaking of the holidays: Christmas chocolate molds…

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I hadn’t been to the Housewares Show in a few years. And I discovered they’ve gone high-tech.

Punctuation-wise, this area is ready to welcome one blogger. Size-wise, there was probably room for six. Nice touch!

A portable, self-contained oven for camping or RV-ing… A lightweight, attractive serving tray large enough to hold your biggest batch of cookies… Mini tools of all types…

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And, the big Twitter board in the lobby displayed showgoers’ tweets, in real time.

C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Program) is a 20-year-old non-profit dedicated to offering inner city high-schoolers a culinary education, via a competitive process; King Arthur helped support the cause this year.

I spoke with Ebony, who’s qualified for next month’s finals. She wants to be a baker.

YES! Good luck, Ebony, from your fellow bakers at King Arthur Flour.

An electric cupcake baker: bake 8 cupcakes or muffins without heating your oven… An ice cream sandwich iron, for making the cookie part of traditional ice cream sandwiches…

And why oh why is there NO picture of my fellow foodies – Deb, Emily, and Liz, three members of the King Arthur Flour product  development team?

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The show was just so darned big we couldn’t find one another – despite our best technical efforts!

A stay-warm thermal dough rising mat… Grain mills, both electric and hand-turned…

Did I mention GADGETS GALORE?!

So that’s it, folks… I hope you enjoyed accompanying me (virtually) to the International Housewares Show. Our product development team will be extra-busy these next few weeks, trying to choose exactly what will go in our catalogues next fall.

There’s no telling which of the items I saw will land on our final list: there are tons of variables that can sideline even the most promising prospect, from pricing to availability to lead times to minimums to… well, if you’ve been in retail, you know what I’m saying.

But in the end, we’ll come up with the widest variety of top-quality products, at the most reasonable prices, that we possibly can.

Because we know you expect no less from your best baking resource: King Arthur Flour.

And, a final note: If I’ve mentioned anything that really strikes your fancy, let me know via the comments below. We always love your input.

Note to Kathy D: Sorry, I never found the United Solutions booth or Big Joe!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Michelle Dallmier

    Please, please, please…Lightweight, colorful, unbreakable mixing bowls – tiny to huge – made from 100% recycled materials… I love color in my kitchen. It just plain makes me happy!! As does so much of KAF!

    Thanks, Michelle. Yeah, I totally love the “lightweight, colorful, unbreakable” – seems like I drop bowls more and more frequently. And who needs the extra weight when you’re lugging 5 pounds of bread dough? :) PJH

    Reply
  2. christina

    Scissor sharpener, now that’s useful!

    Can’t wait to get a sample, Christina – you know how hard it is to find anyone to sharpen a pair of scissors these days?? PJH

    Reply
  3. Allan

    The best week for the blog posts. In addition to really good recipe posts we get an inspiring piece about the trip to the Kansas wheat farmers and this really enjoyable post about working the Chicago Housewares Show. Thanks for the work.

    I’d like to see the test kitchen give a work out to the thermal rising mat. That sounds like it might be really useful. Also the other items from the Wisconsin bowl company. Their bowls are great and I’d be interested in the prep boards that can go in the dishwasher. The one thing I didn’t understand was the flat 7.5 quart rising bucket. The dough rises sideways?

    Sure does, Allan – dough doesn’t care how it rises, up or just a sideways spread… It just struck me this was something you could slide onto one of those shorter bottom shelves in the fridge. And thanks for the kind words- PJH

    Reply
  4. Marcia

    One of everything, please~~love kitchen gadgets!

    Then you’d love this show, Marcia – ACRES of gadgets! :) PJH

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  5. Zoë @rumandreason

    Acres of kitchen gadgets? I don’t think I can go to that show, sounds like it would be extremely dangerous for my credit card…

    I vote for the stay-warm thermal dough rising mat (which would do double function of keeping hands warm in a cold, country kitchen) and the acrylic measuring jug with the idiot-proof (er, that would be me) spout.

    Feels silly to be annoyed by something so minor, Zoë, but it’s true: I’m REALLY irritated by fat, clumsy spouts that drip and slop what you’re pouring all over the place. And the handle on this one used gravity to give you a secure grip, without you really having to hold on too firmly – good when things get slippery… Thanks for the input – PJH

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  6. Becky

    Once again, I’m envious of your job. Do you guys need a mediocre baker–you know to test recipes to make sure they’re idiot proof and will work in a kitchen with children and dogs racing through, the phone ringing and a husband who wants to talk? I’m available!

    Were those old fashioned egg beaters I spotted in your sneaked photo? THAT would be something I’d want–those look as sturdy as the one my mother had for 40 years.

    The dough rising mat sounds perfect for my chilly kitchen. And as already mentioned the sissor sharpener.

    The fresh herb mill would solve a constant irritation when I’m cooking–chopping parsley, I’ve tried sissors, knives, I always make a mess of it. And the chopper that uses the cord–that sounds fun.

    A peach pitter would be wonderful for making cobblers. And I like the idea of the biodegradable plastic ware.

    In my fantasy life, you know the one where I live off the land and raise my own food, I’d like an electric grain mill, but my reality is that there are grain mills out there, and I’ve never bought one.

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  7. Marianna

    Hi PJ! When you popped up in the middle of the St. Pat’s parade did you think you arrived in the Emerald City?! (Hey Toto, we’re not in Vermont anymore!) hee hee It sounds like you had a great time. I definitely like the idea of those lightweight colorful bowls and the flat dough container too. The silicone pie shield sounds like something this pie baker might find useful-I will leave it’s worthiness up to you experts. A quick and easy scissor sharpener sounds great. We used to have a man come around in a truck who would sharpen your knives and scissors. I really miss that service. I always love new and decorative cake pans. I wish I had a big kitchen that could accommodate everything that I think I “need” lol Oh well, that is what the storage bins in the basement are for!

    Marianna, the intensity of the green celebration did startle me at first – THOUSANDS of people, everywhere, green green green… But it surely was fun. Thanks for your feedback! PJH

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  8. Mark Wisecarver

    More and more, (gooder!) Pasta gadgets.
    Many of us make our own now, again.
    I’d like to see better quality, hand, Pasta machines, etc.
    All the best,
    Mark

    Mark, I didn’t see any new pasta stuff, but did see some old favorites. I’ll pass this along to the team, thanks. PJH

    Reply
  9. Erin in PA

    Oooh – what an awesome trip you had!! I would definitely be interested in the flat 7.5 qt. dough bucket, the glass storage containers, the butter churner (!), my list could go on and on…. :)

    Reply
  10. Niki

    First off, 40 degrees? Come on, that’s flip flop weather out here! :)
    Okay, so I have always wanted to go to this… And take home everything. Sad.
    And you got a great shot of the Shannon Rovers, too bad you didn’t get the bagpipes. My friend was playing his bagpipe in the parade :)
    Acrylic box cutter that lays flat??? I’m in love.
    Oh and I was already craving Lou Malnatti’s deep dish pizza today, so thanks for making it so much worse by showing me a picture of it!!

    Niki, the temp. is OK, it’s the wind that makes it so… interesting. I think it would blow the flip-flops right off my feet! Yeah, the bagpipes were piping away (although the music was kind of disappearing in the roar of the wind – funny how I keep coming back to that). :) PJH

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  11. Paul from Ohio

    PJH – Glad you visited my hometown.
    Sad you didn’t have the chance to try THE PIZZA – as I previously noted, you could have had one delivered to your hotel room! Deep Dish Spinach Edwardo’s is THE BEST in Chicago. Has been for over 25 years!

    Glad you made it to the Tribune tower – you were only a few blocks from both Uno/Due’s and Edwardos at that point – wish you’d had more time. Maybe next trip!

    Your recipe for Chicago Deep Dish pizza is being made at least once a week now and boy do we love it….thanks for the recipe and all the other good things you “whip up”!

    Paul – so many pizzas, so little time! :) PJH

    Reply
  12. Lissa

    I would love to attend that show. Sounds like so much fun!

    Add me to the list of those interested in the thermal dough rising mat. The fresh herb mill also sounded like something I’d love, too – as long as it wasn’t too difficult to clean.

    Reply
  13. Kelly

    What’s our limit to the “things we found interesting?!” I guess I’m a foodie if practically everything sounded so. The non-scary mandolin sounds interesting, as does the acrylic fold-flat box grater (woo!). The herb mill sounds awesome, as does the scissors sharpener (mine’re getting so dull but I love them and haven’t found any as good). Glass storage containers would be nice, but only if they stack/nest for easier (empty) storage. Grain mills would be extra awesome if KAF sold the accompanying whole grains. I also second Mark’s comment about a pasta roller as I’ve been thinking about making my own.

    Thanks for the blog on the event! It was a fun read and it’s nice to live vicariously through an insider in the big event!

    And thanks for your feedback, Kelly – duly noted. PJH

    Reply
  14. Karen

    Of all the things you listed, the one I’m sure I’d buy is the measuring cup with a line for 2/3 of a cup. With just me and the hubby at home, I’m always cutting recipes in half or thirds and having to estimate what 2/3 of a cup is. (I could go for 1/6 too…) The butter churner sounds like something fun to have.

    Seems like you’re enjoying my sweet home Chicago! Saturday was miserable!

    We LOVE Lou’s but we only ordered the Lou once. Who puts cheddar cheese on a pizza??? I appreciate that they offer reduced fat mozzarella–makes me feel less guilty about eating deep dish pizza.

    Oh, and Tribune Tower is still Tribune Tower—They own WGN (which originally stood for World’s Greatest Newspaper–the Tribune’s tag line for years).

    Thanks for the update!!!

    Reply
  15. Aaron Frank

    Wow. I grew up in Chicago and had my high school graduation in McCormick Place. As big as McCormick Place is the biggest commercial building in the world is a few miles from there and it’s called the Merchandise Mart (the Pentagon is the largest non-commerical building).

    The best pizza in Chicago is hotly debated. Lou’s is definitely a local favorite but my personal preference is a stuffed pizza from Giordano’s. I’ve carried frozen, large pizzas all over the country with me to bake and server at my destination.

    The bread hearth pan is interesting. I recently read a recipe for a no-knead boule and they bake it in a pre-heat Le Creuset dutch oven. I haven’t tried it but I will.

    Finally, maybe King Arthur could do something to greatly advance the field of baking education. I’ve looked at going back to school and even though baking is my first love I lean toward cooking school. Cooking schools teach chefs not just how to cook but how to run a business. Baking and pastry schools teach baking and pastry but not how to run a business. And anyone who wants to have his own shop will need that.

    Thanks,

    Aaron

    Aaron, I saw the Merchandise Mart from afar, but didn’t get over there. I’ll note you down as a “yes” vote for the hearth pan. And have you checked out our Baking Education Center here in Vermont? We offer all of what you mention , baking-wise – professional-level courses in baking, AND in how to set up and run a bakery. Thanks for connecting – have you got that Passover shortbread recipe nailed? PJH

    Reply
  16. Lesley

    Acrylic fold flat box grater please! And the dough rising mat – the kitchen gets cold in the winter.

    When we lived in south western Virginia, the only pizza place in town used white cheddar only on the pizza. It was pretty shocking the first time but we liked it once we got used to it.

    Reply
  17. Lorena

    I second the high-quality handheld egg beater. My mom has one that is amazing and was my grandmothers. Every one I have bought in an attempt to replicate this thing either jams up to due cheap or poor-quality gearing, or the beaters are EXTREMELY poorly thought-out, or the hand-feel is all wrong (i.e. turning the crank makes me hit myself, which my husband thinks is hilarious, but I do not really appreciate)

    Also, this warming mat … sounds interesting … and I’d be interested to hear more of it, too! And a 2/3 cup measuring cup!

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  18. Mom24@4evermom

    I would love to see you carry metal measuring spoons that match with the odd sized measuring spoons. Currently your regular are rectangular and the odd are circles.

    I’m so sad you couldn’t take pictures. It sounds wonderful. :)

    I’ve passed your suggestion along – thanks. PJH

    Reply
  19. Jackie

    Lou Malnati’s… My daughter got to throw some pizza dough in one of their suburban kitchens when she was just a wee one. Loved that pizza, I surely did. Loved your pictures of my sweet home Chicago as well, rotten cold March weather and all!
    The unscary mandoline caught my fancy. I’ve wanted a mandoline forever but I’m terrified of them. I must have that flat bread rising container. Even with two refrigerators, I have space issues with the taller containers. The rising mat sounds interesting, too. And the egg beater; you have no idea how much I wish I had swiped my mother’s pre-Depression era egg beater when I left home.
    Thanks for sharing your trip!

    Reply
  20. Terri A.

    I’m also interested in the flat dough rising container (have the big bucket in my refrigerator right now); also, the mini pie pans from your one illegal picture and the thermal dough rising mat. These would all make great additions to my already overstocked kitchen!

    Reply
  21. deede

    Wish I was there too!
    The acrylic box grater has piqued my interest–would love to see that. Oh, and that palm-sized veggie chopper…hmmmm….no more crying!

    Reply
  22. RobynB

    Sounds like so much fun!! The mentions that intrigued me the most were the dough rising mat, the butter churner, the mini spatulas and the glass storage with lids. I love King Arthur – so fun to find new, wonderful things as well as the great writing and recipes!

    Reply
  23. Alsace

    I agree about the egg beater…It was my first tool in the kitchen making Jello instant chocolate pudding with my mom. It uses both hands to work, keeping them from getting seriously caught. I want one for my little boy, so he can have the fun, too!

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  24. Ruth C

    I like the herb chopper and the tweezers (for beads and sewing, actually…). Did they have the garlic-dicing thingy I saw in a magazine recently? It was a small food-processor like bowl with a top and lots of blades inside, apparently. You simply twist the top and voila! tiny diced garlic. Like the mushroom-slicer, I think this might be one specialty tool that would be worth getting (and storing in my tiny kitchen).

    Reply
  25. Rebekah

    The scissors sharpener, the composite pizza peel, and the “grippy glove” jar opener. Those sound amazing.

    Reply
  26. Lori

    “A stay-warm thermal dough rising mat”

    OMG I NEED THIS!!! My kitchen is so cold that my dough never rises right!!

    Reply
  27. linda

    saving my $$ now! flex silicone measruing with ALL the markings …i say YES! …herb chopper, crown muffin pans from usa! yippee…my fav as well…new cupcake papers…count me in!
    thanks for this fun & fancy post!!!

    Reply
  28. Alyce

    Oh how I wish I had a job like yours! I love kitchen gadgets I would be most interested in the tweezers and the glass jars with snap on lids. I do collect the old glass jars with the lids that fit on top. Thanks for taking us to the show. Can’t wait to see KA’s picks.

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  29. Jess

    Glad you had a good time. I think I am going to need to spend about 1/2 hour with this blog to decide what gadgets to ask about!

    I’m with you on Lou’s – good pizza, but I like Giordano’s and my own much better! Did you make it to XOCO? I’m hoping to see that clone on a blog someday!

    Were you near the river during the parade? For those who don’t know, the Chicago river is dyed green every year for the St. Patty’s Day parade. Google “Chicago river green” and you will see a ton of pics.

    We’re dreaming of green grass here, so maybe a green river would be too much for us! Thanks for the food tips – we’ll file them for the next time we visit the windy city! Irene @ KAF

    Jess, no time for XOCO – it was pretty much a rush-rush-work-work trip. And the river was FAINTLY green by the time I saw it – but I did catch it in the nightly news in all its bright-green splendor… :) PJH

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  30. LindyD

    Wow! A thermal rising mat! Any additional info? Summer’s coming, my woodstove will be shut down soon, and my bread dough’s going to need all the help it can get in my cool summer climate.

    No additional info yet, Lindy – still in the WAY early planning stages here, but stay tuned – PJH

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  31. Maryann

    I would love that tool that looks like a palm-sized salad spinner to cut onions. I can’t cut more than 1/4 of an onion without crying hysterically.

    Like you, the old tricks offer little help – put a piece of bread in your mouth? run cold water while you cut? We’ll add your request to the queue for that tear proof onion kitchen gadget! Irene @ KAF

    Maryann, we actually sell onion goggles that work REALLY well – so long as you don’t wear glasses to cutonions (because they won’t fit over your glasses)… PJH

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  32. Carol

    I just wanted to say that this brought back many memories for me. I used to work at McCormick Place in the office. During the setup for the Housewares Show in February 1967, a fire burned the building down. I quit working in Chicago in 1970 and only went back once for the pre-opening of the Sears Tower. Seeing these pictures of Chicago really sent me reeling. It has grown so much. I believe in the one picture overlooking the train tracks (South Shore and I.C. Railroads…..The Spirit of New Orleans train?) was the Conrad Hilton Hotel. My first job in Chicago. My last job took me to the Prudential Building….the tallest building in Chicago…….it got lost somewhere Thanks for the memories

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  33. Terry

    The egg beater like Mom’s.
    (And how sad is it we all want one that lasts and can’t find one?)
    Lightweight, non-breakable mixing bowls, non-scary mandoline, and scissors sharpener……

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  34. Megan

    My name is Megan and I work at the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau in McCormick Place. I truly enjoyed reading your blog and hearing about your experience in Chicago for the Home + Housewares Show. Sounds like you had a great time and the show was a success. What a great time of year to visit our city – the locals do go all out for St. Patrick’s Day!!! I hope that your travels were safe heading back to Vermont, and hope you can make it back next year to the 2011 show!

    Thanks, Megan – LOVE Chicago. That must be one complicated job you all have, keeping McCormick place scheduled and running smoothly. I’m already registered for next year, they scanned me right at the show! P.S. Please don’t tell on me for taking pictures… :) PJH

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  35. Dorothy

    I NEED the little gizmo that looks like a salad spinner and chops an onion in 5 seconds! NEED, NEED, NEED!

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  36. Nicole Shugars

    PJ:
    Glad you got to try the “Lou” — whenever we get to Chicago for a visit I try to make that part of the visit. I haven’t tried your deep-dish version and will have to do that soon. Regarding your experiences with the parade — have you seen Harrison Ford’s movie “The Fugitive” — there is a big scene with the parade. Will probably bring you right back to your moment. I worked in Chicago for years in the Equitable Building on the 24th floor which is right next to the Tribune building (on the side closest to the river). It was always a joy waiting for St. Patrick’s Day to arrive and watch them dye the river green. (Picture a motor boat and people pouring dye out the back of it.) Ahh…memories. Keep up the good work and great products coming our way.

    Nicole, I wondered how they made the river green – now I know! :) PJH

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  37. Ernestine Ranson

    I love gadgets, but over the years have learned to pick only those I will really use–like the herb chopper. Well, maybe the heated dough mat, the flat rising bowl and, ooohhh, the hand held egg beater……….

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  38. Val

    Hey! You changed the name of the blog? How come? Not that it’s a big deal — just curious!

    Interesting, Val – We have all kinds of back-end analysis that goes on, and turns out “baking” is a much more searched-on term than “bakers” online – so a simple change of a couple of letters makes the blog much more searchable. :) PJH

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  39. ShariG

    I’m a kitchen-gadget-aholic too! Nice to know I’m in good company. Anyone looking for an old egg beater (until kaf gets newfangled ones in stock) should check out their local antique shows or shops. And if you’re anywhere near central/upstate ny, check out my favorite shop Worden’s Antiques in Richfield Springs (south of Utica), he’s been there for years & has tons & tons (and tons!!) of kitchen stuff (other antiques too)… totally worth a little road trip (it’s about an hour from me).

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  40. Zorra

    What a delightful blogger you are. You made the mundane (I’ve made the St. Patty’s day slog to Chicago trade shows myself) entertaining. Your pictures, comments & sequencing are a pleasure to see. As for products, I know come the holidays you’ll have irresistible new items that you’ll deliver incredibly fast to my door. Thanks!

    Thanks so much, Zorra – it was a fun blog to write, for sure. PJH

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  41. Vicki

    Oh my…oh my….too many things to choose from. I narrowed my most want list down to seven (and that is sight unseen, once I see things in the catalog I’m sure the number will shoot up!) Tweezers with bowl ends, flat 7 1/2 quart dough rising bucket, definitely a fresh herb mill that works, adjustable silicone pie shield, scissors sharpener and the thermal dough mat.

    Thanks for the virtual tour of Chicago and the Houseware’s Show. I totally enjoyed it and just wish I’d been there to drool over all the things I don’t need and don’t have space for.

    Reply
  42. KathyD

    PJ, Don’t worry about missing Big Joe. He said it was so busy and so big that he didn’t get to see everything. United Solutions was in the North Building between the Sterilite an Rubbermaid booths. He just told me that you probably spent most of your time in the Riverside building and they were in the building across the street. I told him that next year I’m going just to see what’s new….so if you need some help scouting out new stuff let me know and I’ll do my best to ask good questions, and take great notes!

    Sounds like you enjoyed the show. Can’t wait to see what new items appear in the upcoming catalogs.

    Glad you had a great time!
    KathyD

    PS: Did you fly out of Manchester, NH on Saturday Morning at 8:45? Wonder if you were on the same flight? Joe got to Chicago just in time to get checked into his hotel room and watch the St. Paddy’s parade from his window.

    Kathy, yes, I did fly out of Manchester on that Saturday morning flight. Lots of folks Housewares-bound on that flight. I sat between 2 people who were NOT happy they lost their middle seat – but neither was very big, so couldn’t have been Big Joe! I went through the North building, but it was a quick trip, as most of the kitchen stuff was in the South and Lakeside buildings. Maybe next year, huh? :) PJH

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  43. Tom

    The thermal dough mat and the flat dough bucket sound great to me.

    Now, next year I think you need somebody to go with you – you know, to carry literature, maintain GPS waypoints, and to sample. I’ll volunteer! However, my DSW has already said (in an exasperated tone of voice) “We have way too much STUFF in the kitchen now! Where do you think . . .”

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  44. Kathy

    I agree with Karen (8:19 on 3/16) – cheddar cheese on pizza? Please don’t think that’s typical of Chicago; maybe our neighbors to the north in Wisconsin. Actually, I did have the Lou once, and it’s not bad, but I’m a purist: give me a Malnati’s plain cheese* deep dish so I can taste the tomato-yness of the sauce and the freshness & chewiness of the crust. And it should be eaten immediately – the trip back to your hotel room probably didn’t do it justice. Giordano’s, Uno/Due’s, Edwardo’s, Gino’s are very good, but I do hope you’ll give Malnati’s another try!
    (*all the pizzas at LM sre mozzarella except for the Lou)

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  45. Patti S

    PJ, while you were seeing GREEN in Chicago, I was making your savory Irish Cheese Bread for the THIRD TIME upon request from home and work. Fantastic!
    Anyway, I request, on behalf of my fellow Americans, any and all gadgets MADE IN THE USA! I’m trying to boycott foriegn stuff, and it’s really difficult, but when I find it, and I need it, I’ll pay for MITUSA stuff any time. Please, please, please (and this goes for your readers, too!) look for, ask for, buy, and sell American-made products. We could end a recession this way, folks! Thanks!

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  46. Jill

    Like many others, I’m also intrigued by the thermal dough rising mat. It sounds like it would be really useful! Chicago is so awesome with or without a big housewares show going on!

    We’re on it, Jill… (and considering it’s 17°F here today, we’re definitely “on” it!) :) PJH

    Reply
  47. Peggy

    I’m glad to see that a lot of those commenting are interested in the thermal warming mat and the flat dough rising container like I am. The silicone (or non-metal) grate sounds terrific and my fingers would appreciate not getting trimmed when I grate something. Thanks for the review of the show, it sounded like a great trade show.

    Reply

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