Shopping for foodies may come off as a challenge, especially when they likely have all the latest tools they need. No matter what they have, they'll smile and say thank you.
If you want more of a reaction, take a look at some of the new products on the market. Manufacturers are back in business after the past couple of years of offering little, if anything, new. Think supply chain.
"There have been many new products in the works, but delays in receiving critical components to assemble them forced many companies to hold off on the release of new or innovative products," says Leana Salamah, spokesperson for the International Housewares Association.
The trends that are on the market this season include items with retro appeal, Salamah says. "They remind us of a time when home entertainment was big in terms of neighborhood parties."
Cookware is colorful, evoking kitchens of the 1950s, but with updated hues. Appliances, too, are taking on retro designs, though inside it's all about the latest technology.
"People just like the look and comfort of what their grandparents once owned," Salamah continues. "The interesting thing is that millennials sort of cross generations, thanks to the continuing presence of music and holdover visuals in movies from all those decades. For these reasons, throwback products are making a comeback in home entertaining."
Fortunately, manufacturers have planned ahead to ensure product availability. In a survey conducted jointly by IHA and Civic Science, an international company in the survey business, shoppers are starting early, with 29% of those surveyed saying they began Christmas shopping in August. Also, 24% said they'd be spending more this year, and 26% said they'd spend less.
"We need to recognize that many people are feeling the pinch," Salamah says. "But there's also an appetite to enjoy life in meaningful ways. And nothing expresses that more than housewares products."
Here's a look at six items new to the market this season. Prices are subject to change.
Lodge Manufacturing's new cast-iron skillet will be treasured during the holidays with its snowflake engraving. But it's also something that's going to last lifetimes to come, as quality cast-iron cookware should. Its preseasoned coating doesn't require any work on your part getting it ready to use it for sautéing, baking, broiling, braising, grilling or whatever cooking method you might employ. The skillet comes with a bright red silicone handle holder so you won't burn your fingers. Best yet, it's made locally -- right down the road in South Pittsburg. Purchase one for you and wrap one up for that cook on your list. Orders may be placed at lodgecastiron.com for $43 each.
WHISTLING TEA KETTLE
KitchenAid uses brushed stainless steel for its chubby, charming Whistling Tea Kettle. Its thick aluminum base holds the heat to keep liquids hot, and its open-pour spout will let out a whistle to let you know it's ready. Available at walmart.com and other online retailers for $120.
OIL AND VINEGAR BOTTLES
You'll want to leave Rachael Ray's ceramic oil and vinegar dispensers on the counter. The bottles come in red, gray or a vibrant teal that will dress up any dinner party or add a nice touch to a romantic meal for two. Use the set to add a dash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil to a salad, or use the oil dispenser alone to drizzle some flavored oils to any number of dishes. The built-in handles make for easy pouring in a curvy design all cooks can appreciate. Available at homedepot.com for $60.
Mannkitchen's Pepper Cannon will send your meal skyrocketing with peppery flavor. No more twisting, turning or cranking an old pepper mill with this clever device. It's pricey at $200, but it's a device most cooks keep on the countertop, pretty enough to move to the table and, best of all, delivers freshly ground pepper in seconds. Most mills can grind pepper in a 12 to 28 mesh measurement, which ranges from fairly coarse to the size of standard table ground black pepper. The Pepper Cannon can grind larger pepper pods, around 8 mesh size, good for rubs and garnishes, all the way up to 60 mesh, if you like your pepper finely ground. It's available at mannkitchen.com, with a 10% off coupon for first-time buyers.
Toasters have come a long way since the first one came out more than 100 years ago. And now many have gone back to their roots with retro designs, including the Toasty One. But inside is where the magic happens in this new appliance. It's really rather ingenious with an LED touchscreen that makes the toasting process fun for children and grown-ups alike, letting you choose your toasting mode (smart, fresh, reheat or frozen) and offering a visualization of the bread while it's toasting. Cleanup is easy with a clever removable tray, and its ivory finish looks good on the counter. Available at store.tineco.com for $339 (10% off with code TOASTY).
The latest color in cookware is pistachio, a lovely light green that adds just a hint of color to your stovetop. But don't let its delicate appearance fool you. KitchenAid's latest enameled cast-iron cookware is a workhorse that heats evenly, and its bonded coating is quite durable and chip-resistant. Cooks will love the fact that like most new cast-iron cookware, no preseasoning is needed. Available in a 12-inch skillet ($130) or a 6-quart Dutch oven ($200) on amazon.com.