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Before the show opened, companies put the last-minute touches to their booths. This year, there were more than 2,000 companies from around the world represented at the International Home + Housewares Show.

CHICAGO -- When you think about the International Housewares Association's annual Home + Housewares Show, think the Detroit Auto Show for car lovers and the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas for computer geeks.

For houseware lovers and those in the industry, it's that big of a deal.

The housewares show introduces media and other invited guests to the unveiling of the latest housewares on the market, some so new they won't make their debut in stores for several months. From personal groomers to grills, curling irons to coffee pots, the show is an explosion of new ideas.

With more than 2,000 exhibitors filling booths in more than 750,000 square feet of space of Chicago's McCormick Place, this year's Home + Housewares Show sold out earlier than ever in its 76-year history.

Over the past 10 years, more than 21,000 buyers have come to the show each year. Goods come from all around, but some of the most-popular are those made in the U.S.A.

"About three years ago, we started having more retailers come and ask us where they could find items made in the U.S.A.," says Perry Reynolds, vice president of global trade development for the International Housewares Association. "They told us their customers kept coming into their stores asking for items made in the U.S."

Why? Quality.

"American products are known worldwide for high quality and standards," he says. "We're also beginning to see a movement of products returning to the United States to be made or new companies deciding to make their products here rather than overseas."

Here's a look at five of the newest items made in America seen at the show this season.

Photo Gallery

Housewares + Home Show products

Blendtec Designer 725. $649

Why it's cool: A high-speed blender operated entirely by touchscreen. With the capability of troubleshooting and prescribing solutions for problems such as loading errors, overheating or air pockets, it's a blender with a brain that replaces 12 appliances. The sleek and sexy machine functions as a blender, smoothie maker, whole juicer, food processor, grain grinder, coffee grinder, nut grinder, mixer, ice cream maker and more, eliminating the expense and space requirements of purchasing and using multiple machines.

Made in: Orem, Utah, at a factory that employs more than 500 workers. Motors for Blendtec products are made in Fairview, Tenn.

Why it's made in America: "It's all about quality, and we have no long lead times. We can get parts quickly," says company founder and CEO Tom Dickson.

Find it: Bed, Bath and Beyond; amazon.com

Americraft 360 Cookware wok. $229.95

Why it's cool: High- quality cookware that utilizes vapor technology, giving consumers the benefits of energy-savings with better-tasting food without excess water or added fat. Like all 360 cookware, the new wok is made of three layers of stainless steel and aluminum. It's made with durability and function in mind.

Made in: West Bend, Wis., a town known for making kitchenware. The company is based, though, in Mount Dora, Fla.

Why it's made in America: "We know we are not only receiving superior-quality products, but we are also helping our own economy by keeping our dollars here in America. We need to keep America in business," says Beth Hurley, company CEO.

Find it: 360Cookware.com; theultimategreenstore.com.

Microplane Elite Box Grater. $39.95

Why it's cool: It has a four-sided design with five different blade styles, so it can make everything from fine lemon shreds for delicate pastries to coarse cabbage for slaw. Also makes beautiful chocolate or cheese ribbon shreds. Finished shreds are caught in a handy removable bottom tray for easy cleanup. It's the Cadillac of the company's line of shredders.

Made by: One hundred employees at family-owned plant, Grace Manufacturing, in Russellville, Ark., parent company of Microplane.

Why it's made in America: "I wouldn't be happy going to work without hearing the hum of machines running," says Chris Grace, CEO of Grace Manufacturing. "Manufacturing in America is part of our roots."

Find it: williams-sonoma.com.

Whirlpool EveryDrop Water Filter. $19.88

Why it's cool: A portable water filtration system that you can hold under the faucet or place on top of a container. It goes where you go, filtering out the taste and odor of chlorine and chloramine, the latter most commonly formed when ammonia is added to chlorine to treat drinking water. One filter lasts for about two months, filtering 60 gallons of water.

Where it's made: Gadsden, Ala., with the replaceable filters made in Atlanta.

Why it's made in America: Whirlpool believes so strongly in America that 80 percent of its products sold throughout the world are American-made. And, Bridget Battistone, senior brand manager for EveryDrop Filters, says this puts thousands of Americans to work. The company employs more manufacturing employees than all of its major competitors combined, she says.

Find it: Wal-Mart; walmart.com; amazon.com.

Vitamix S55 Blender. $459

Why it's cool: The Vitamix S55 offers the convenience of four pre-programmed settings to blend smoothies; power blends; dips and spreads; and frozen desserts. There's also an automatic shut-off so you can be somewhere else while your smoothie is blending. It comes with a large, 40-ounce container as well as a smaller, 20-ounce travel cup that quickly blends single-serving recipes and fits in your car's cup holder.

Made in: Olmsted Township, Ohio.

Why it's made in America: "Olmsted Township is where the Bernard family found their success. They want to give back to the community. Most components are sourced within 200 miles of the company's headquarters," says company spokeswoman Jamie Dalton.

Find it: vitamix.com; williams-sonoma.com

Contact Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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