It was cold and gray outside of Chicago’s McCormick Place last week. But you wouldn’t know it from all the color inside.

This year’s International Housewares Show was a cacophony of color, as manufacturers seem to have decided that brighter and bolder colors are the way to attract consumers in a recessionary year.

Kitchen Aid ( introduced the new shade “pear” to the rainbow of available colors for its kitchen prep equipment. Pear is available throughout the entire Kitchen Aid line, including mixers, food processors, and blenders.

Adding to the classic black that is available on many of its products, Oxo ( introduced silicon spatulas in a handful of new colors — well suited for placement in an Easter basket.

Prepara ( introduced its first line of chief’s performance tools against a white-on-white backdrop. The orange or black one-handed garlic crushers (which don’t require you to actually peel the garlic cloves) popped out against the display. The green trim of the Power Plant hydroponic garden matched the lush foliage that spilled out of the top.

Over at Zak Designs (, polycarbonate and melamine dishware and nesting bowls in bright colors, like orange, green and a hot sky blue were on display. It also showcased a speckled line of dishware, called “confetti,” that is made out of recycled materials.

At the Housewares Show, green isn’t just a color. It’s a hot design trend, and manufacturers were trying to everything they could to bolster claims that they’re eco-friendly.

Lisa Casey Weiss, a spokesperson and lifestyle consultant for the International Housewares Association, which manages the show, says she has seen a dramatic increase in the number of products that feature recycled materials, are multi-functional, and use renewable resources.

For example, bamboo has taken center stage for many manufacturers. A renewable resource, it turned up on cutting boards and as well as on the handles of a wide variety of kitchen utensils.

Outset, Inc. (, which owns Kingsford, introduced the Verde Series, a green line of barbeque tools that is made from all-sustainable materials, including the packaging. The stainless steel is recycled and the bamboo in the handles is farm-raised. The set includes a spatula, locking tongs, fork and grill brush.

Hamilton Beach ( redesigned its blender so that the glass bowl fits upside down over the base. That allows the company to save about 20 percent on the packaging materials, says Steve Cummings, a spokesperson for the company.

In addition, the company is redirecting 1.5 million pounds of scrap per year to a “handicapped-staffed recycling center with a zero landfill policy.”

Over at Aladdin ( the new motto is “sip sustainably.” A new series of recycled and recyclable tumblers, beverage holders and travel mugs are made of a recycled propopylene materials, and can be recycled instead of thrown away.

The company is also focused on Bisphenol-A, an organic chemical that some scientists think could be dangerous. At this year’s show, Aladdin introduced their first Bisphenol-A free plastic water bottle that is shatter, stain, and odor resistant, but with a design that will fit into your car cup holder or bike rack.

Besides the explosion of color and eco-friendly items, this year’s Housewares Show also saw more products that are multi-functional.

“Consumers want their products to take up less space,” explains Casey Weiss.

Perhaps the best multi-functional kitchen gadget on display was Hamilton Beach’s OpenStation Can-Opener. More than just a can opener, it also removes jar lids, pop-top cans, glass and plastic bottle caps, and hard-plastic clamshell packaging.

Most of the items introduced at the show will be available starting this spring at local retailers. For information on where individual products are being sold, visit the manufacturers’ websites.