I Went To The International Home & Housewares Show And All I Got Was, Well, This Cool Stuff

by Melisa Wells on March 16, 2012

On Monday I had quite the day in Chicago at the International Home & Housewares Show 2012. This was my first visit, and it was AMAZING. It was also fun (I was with my friend Jen and her neighbor) and exhausting, but in a good way.

I was excited to go for many reasons, one of them being that I remembered my dad used to go every year when he was managing a hotel in the city, when I was a kid. I actually still have (somewhere in my crawl space) a promotional game that he got from the Farberware booth in the late 70′s. The game was set up like a horse race in a bright green, shirt-sized box. I’m fairly certain that if the Farberware company had a company museum, they would really love to have it. I will not be giving it up anytime soon, though. HEAR THAT, FARBERWARE? Don’t even try to ask me for it.

Anyway, I dragged Jen out of her warm bed (not literally, of course) at 5:45 a.m. on the day after the Daylight Savings Time change so that we could arrive at the show as it was opening. Hard core, right? I felt a little bad about that, but not as bad as I felt about being positively chipper when I arrived at her house at 6:30, even performing a little jig for her in the dark when she answered the door. I’m a morning person. I’m also a night owl. Jen had no chance. I’m actually amazed that she didn’t slam the door on my face.

We headed out, stopping to pick up one of her neighbors and then coffee (for them: I don’t touch the stuff) before getting on the highway. We arrived at McCormick Place with about fifteen minutes to spare before the show opened, and once we got inside the first building and looked at what was in front of us, we threw all strategies out the window. This show is HUGE. It takes up four buildings. FOUR. The separate buildings held one themed expo each:

1. dine + design
2. wired + well
3. clean, contain + sustain
4. global crossroads

Regarding the number of individual booths, if I were to venture a guess as to how many there were I’d say “Oh…A MILLION???” It was very overwhelming.

But so fun.

In total we spent seven hours walking around with just a short break for lunch and another short break to watch Chef Gale Gand do a cooking demo in the Cooking Theater. Out of those “million” booths, I’d guess that we had enough time to actually explore about 1/3 of them in depth. Maybe. I don’t know. Next year we’re going for at least two days, with scooters, and rolling luggage. It has already been discussed and decided.

There is no way I could share everything I saw with you. NO WAY. So, I decided to just share the products that I was given at some of the booths. My disclosure? Yes, I was given the following items. This is not a review post, because I haven’t used any of it yet (with one exception, and I’ll let you know when I get to it). I was not asked to write about these products specifically but I know that the brands who gave them to me will appreciate any attention I can throw their way.

1. The Gleener


We approached the booth for this product because there were sweaters laying all over the place and I think they caught Jen’s eye. The rep showed us The Gleener in action: it’s a fuzz remover that takes care of those little “pills” that form on sweaters and some shirts, caused by friction. The Gleener has three removable, gentle blades. While demonstrating how great this product works (it WAS quite amazing), the rep said to Jen, “It’s a lot like shaving your legs.” Jen replied, “Oh, well I don’t shave my legs.” This completely stunned the rep, but only for a minute. (Jen has that effect on people: it’s amazing to watch.)(and I mean that in the best way possible.) We stood there marveling at The Gleener and were pleasantly surprised when the rep gave one to each of us. I am being completely serious when I say that I cannot wait to try this out on a few t-shirts I have.

2. The Matzah Baller


I am fairly certain that I was the most excited visitor to the Matzah Baller booth during the course of the entire show. I found them online when I was doing pre-show research and although they were on my list of booths to visit, as I already mentioned we had thrown out all strategies first thing in the morning, so I happened upon this one completely by accident. I promptly started jumping up and down, exclaiming, “I am SOOOO excited to have found you! This is such a cool thing! Yayyyyyy!” (Seriously, I did.) I spoke with the rep about less desirable ways to form matzah balls (like using an ice cream scoop, which only works halfway, and using my hands, which is messy, and using a big spoon, which just doesn’t work well either) and then, before I knew it, she handed me a Matzah Baller (which is made of easy-to-clean stainless steel) to bring home and try myself. With Passover coming up in just a couple of weeks, this was very timely.

3. Itzy Ritzy’s Snack Happened Mini


It figures that the one product that I can actually review for you is the one that is meant for small children. But only sort of. I had not heard of Itzy Ritzy until I received a pre-show email, inviting me to their booth to pick up a “Snack Happened Mini”. Itzy Ritzy, a company that I discovered is actually based in my suburb of Chicago, produces, in their words, “exceptional and hip baby, toddler, and adult products designed with beauty, style, sophistication, function and fun in mind.” Products include seat covers for high chairs, grocery carts, and car seats as well as nursing covers, nursing pads, wet bags, and the snack bags. All of the products are made with high-quality fabric in gorgeous prints. The “Snack Happened Mini” (as well as the original “Snack Happened” bag and the Wet Bag) has a thick PVC-free waterproof lining, keeping the contents inside–which can be actual snacks as well as things like phones and other electronics–safe and dry. It has a zipper closure–not velcro–so if you take it to the opera or anywhere else where noise is unwelcome you’ll be able to get in and out of it without disturbing your neighbor. It’s reusable and washable too. I LOVE THIS BAG. It’s really adorable and although I filled it with candy at the Itzy Ritzy booth, I plan to keep my new iPod Nano in it, since I can’t seem to keep track of that thing to save my life. I wish these bags had been around when my kids were little!

4. Wahl Stainless Steel Lithium Ion+ Trimmer/Groomer/Detailer


I enjoyed learning about the history of the Wahl company very much. I had made an appointment there because I have been cutting Jim’s hair for more than twenty-five years now, and D’s for years as well. (J’s curls don’t lend themselves well to a home trim with clippers!) Wahl has come out with clippers and trimmers that are Lithium Ion instead of wired, which makes things so much easier, and portable too: you can use them anywhere, anytime! Jim, who usually only grows facial hair when he’s on vacation, looked at me funny when I told him that I wanted him to help me review this trimmer because normally I’m asking him to shave, not to grow the facial hair. Our current hair clippers are a Wahl product, and they are badly in need of replacement so I’ll be getting the Lithium Ion+ model on that at some point, too!

5. Corkcicle


Okay, this product is pretty cool. You stick the Corkcicle in the freezer and, when you’re entertaining (or, really, just opening up a bottle of wine all by yourself like I’ve heard that some people do, but you know, definitely not me…ahem.) you pour a glass of white wine and then put the frozen Corkcicle in the wine bottle. It will keep white wine cold for up to an hour. It can also be used with room temperature red wines, to “bring them down to a more suitable drinking temperature”. They are starting to produce Corkcicles with different colored tops, too.

6. Wilton’s Cake Decorating Yearbook 2012


Oh, be still my heart! I grabbed the Wilton press kit and lo and behold, THIS was in it. Back in the 70′s, my mom used to buy the Wilton Yearbook every year and I would pore over them like I was Heidi Klum with a fashion magazine. I have bought a few over the years at the Wilton Tent Sale, which I attend every year. This was a huge surprise for me and I can’t wait to sit down with it and look at all the cool stuff I can try with cakes this year.

So, there you have it. Full day at the show, cool products, great memories. I can’t wait until next year!


Ally Bean March 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm

I love that you share the products that you found along the way. The corksicle looks great. Very clever.

TheNextMartha March 16, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Seriously SO MUCH FUN. And though I had housewares hangover the next day, next year TWO days baby! Thanks for making me get my ass out early. We still barely scratched the surface of that place.

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