International Home + Housewares Show Scenes

pantone-color-of-the-year-20120ihhs12Over the weekend, I toured the 2012 International Home and Housewares Show, #IHHS12, at McCormick Place, listened to Jillian Michaels speak and attended a celebrity event with Curtis Stone.

Although I’ve wanted to attend the show for years, this was my first trip. I invited my son, Warren, a high school junior with an interest in marketing and PR, to join me. When the registration site prompted a request to let them know if you’re bringing a family member under 18, I grabbed his badge.

Getting an invitation to attend a SodaStream blogger event on Saturday afternoon gave us an event to look forward to.

According to the site, The International Housewares Association is the 73-year-old voice of the housewares industry, which accounted for (US)$301.8 billion at retail worldwide in 2010. The not-for-profit, full-service association sponsors the world’s premier exposition of products for the home, the International Home + Housewares Show, and offers its 1,700 member companies a wide range of services, including industry and government advocacy, export assistance, State-of-the-Industry reports, point-of-sale and consumer panel data through Housewares MarketWatch, executive management peer groups, a unique Web-based community at and group buying discounts on business solutions services.

Ironically, on our way to find parking we followed a SodaStream display that was also making its way to the trade show.

We parked along the lake front path and paid only $3.00, a $14.00 savings from my auto show parking ticket last month. In exchange for the savings, we agreed to walk about a mile. On a balmy high 60s day, the walk was engergizing and scenic.

Going behind the scenes to see where the amazing array of household goods comes from was exciting, overwhelming and even a bit of a wake up call.

Wow! I really do need more cleaning and organizing supplies. Light up beer signs and spinning beer can chiller? Put those on the maybe list. With over 2,100 exhibits you won’t believe how much cool stuff you wish you had room for.

After being at the auto show a few weeks ago, I have to say it’s surprising how much an enormous space like McCormick Place can change.

Maybe it’s the type of booths that make the visual landscape look so different. The SodaStream booth was massive with a prominent display wall, demo stations, several lounge areas and even a 3D theater.

Luckily, we got there just in time to see Jillian Michaels speak. She talked about how she switched from buying soda at the store to making it at home with Sodastream. The system uses a CO2 compressor to add carbonation to a mix of water and flavoring. We tried the root beer, Dr. Pete and lemon/lime essence. If you like soda, but don’t like paying high prices and recycling bottles and cans, SodaStream may be a solution for you.

Jillian Michaels

When it came time for questions, I asked Jillian about her podcast, named the best new podcast in 2011. Here’s where to find Jillian Michaels’ podcast. She’s looking for people to interview about topics like money, career and lifestyle.

Walking around the show is an adventure.

With so much to see, and so much that’s already familiar, we stopped to look at novelties or to sample food demos. One we liked: freezer storage containers for Eggo waffles.

We wanted to check out the international exhibitors so we trekked out to an outpost that was organized into booths of equal sizes with diverse displays.

On the way back to the show, we stopped by the American Express Open Forum booth. As an American Express card member and merchant, I thanked them for being there and told them I was honored to be featured on AmEx Open Forum about social media twice last month. They gave us 25 mini-cupcakes from Baked by Melissa. What a sweet treat! Each bite-sized morsel is filled and topped with frosting and a garnish! So much detail in such a petite package!


One of our last stops was at the Protect-a-Bed booth. I enjoyed their ChicagonistaLive segment last week. [Disclosure: I am a ChicagonistaLive on-air contributor and an occasional co-host.] The toy bed bug they gave us was cute, but facts about bed bugs and dust mites are scary.

With the late afternoon sun streaming in, we headed out and stopped for a takeaway shot of me in front of Pantone’s color of the year Tangerine Tango. As we walked back to the car on the lake front path, we stopped for a picture of my son on the sea wall.

On Sunday, my friend Amy Hesser and I attend the Curtis Stone party at Paris Club. We met up with MJ Tam and Sami Ari there. Kudos to Gita Group PR and the event organizers on one of the best parties we’ve attended this year.


We loved the props and pictures photo booth, the live Curtis cooking show with audience participation and the atmosphere. The food, of course, is what we came for. The invitation promised:
20 gallons of champagne
50 black truffles
150 pork bellies
50 lbs slowly braised beef
300 oysters
40 lbs king crab
1 dash of dj

If you’re ever had freshly shaved truffles on risotto then you can imagine what we were raving about. MJ gave the pork belly a thumbs up while Sami enjoyed the oysters and sashimi.


At the end of the night, we got Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone, his new pop out loaf pan, two truffles, a $25 gift card to Paris Club and one of the coolest totes ever. When I got home, my oldest daughter was still awake, She happily ate the chocolate truffles as she exclaimed over Curtis’ recipes. This is from a girl who doesn’t cook – yet. Thanks to Curtis for giving her some ideas. I’m looking forward to spending quality time with her in the kitchen. Check out these recipes from Curtis Stone.

Disclosure: SodaStream invited me to a blogger event. I received two reusable bottles with soda samples, which were available to any guest at the show. Protect-a-Bed gave me a tote bag, toy bed bug and a commuter coffee cup. Everyone who attended the Curtis Stone party had access to open bar, four food stations and pictures with Curtis. Guests were given tote bags with a loaf pan, book, $25 gift card and chocolate truffles. All opinions are my own; there was no coverage requirement or expectation from any of these brands in exchange for products or gifts. Thanks so much to all of them for including me in their customer and PR experience. Barbara Rozgonyi

Did you attend the International Home + Housewares Show this year? If not, what types of items would you be most excited to see?

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