International Home + Housewares Show Review – World’s Biggest Home Products Expo Wows Once Again

The International Home + Housewares Show checked into Chicago for a week-long stay, delivering a whirlwind of wow as tens of thousands of buyers from more than 100 countries converged on consumer lifestyle products for all areas of the home.

As George Carlin, the wonderfully crass, stand-up comic and social commentator put it: “What is a home, anyway, but a place to put your stuff?”  But oh, what stuff it was - nearly 2,000 booths brimming with on-point colors, modern designs, tech advances, and patents of the pending and secured varieties. Knicks and knacks sat side by side with all of the odds and ends and bric-a-brac that we could ever want, need or imagine.

Below are “best of” products from the show in an age-old category we’ll informally call “packing and carrying,” that gets the life-sustaining stuff like food and water from one point to another. With the expansive marketplace of the Home + Housewares Show as the hunting grounds, the list below includes products that are elegantly designed, exceptionally functional, and eye-catchingly attractive.

Igloo – This long-standing company launched nearly 60 years ago with the goal of re-designing wooden drinking buckets used by laborers. The company’s ability to pivot in modern times with desirable products for all ages and lifestyles is truly impressive. The Igloo Soft Coolers line for kids makes lunch packing fun and easy, with functional shapes and attractive designs. Lunch box standouts: Girls Dual Compartment Lunch Tote (mod floral patterns with distinct sections to keep lunch items separate), Girls Crossbody Lunch Tote (pattern-mixing and super fun colors for young fashionistas, Stowaway Lunch (crescent moon shaped to fit easily in backpacks), and a sturdy take on a traditional lunch bag that’s the ultimate cafeteria companion (skeletons and dinosaurs which refreshingly have no movie licensing or tie-in). 

Girls Crossbody Lunch Tote by Igloo

Girls Dual Compartment Lunch Tote by Igloo

Gaiam – The family-owned Allsop Inc, offered a dozen Gaiam Lunch Coolers via Kohls and Amazon in a variety of show-stopping, exclusive Gaiam prints. Featuring on-trend colors and patterns, these fashionable lunch bags are available in six different sizes and shapes, making it easy to pack a small snack, full meal, or picnic lunch. The lunchboxes are made with high-quality fabrics that are pleasing to the touch, including smooth nylon, thick foams, and a tight knit fabric that are all easy to wipe clean and air dry.  

Gaiam Lunch Bags line

BlueAvocado BlueAvocado is a seven-year old, privately held company that has become synonymous with thoughtful solutions to simplify lives and reduce waste. Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield is also on the Board of the company which says a lot. BlueAvocado’s (re)zip reusable sandwich and storage bags are a sturdy and elegant solution to stop the endless march of disposable plastic bags emptying wallets and clogging landfills. To date, the company has avoided 198 million disposable plastic baggies. They’re easy to use and rewash, with the smaller (re)zips being perfect portion-control for two cookies, and other sizes holding half a sandwich, a full sandwich, and various portions of chips, fruits or sides.  With its signature gusseted base, the companion (re)zip “volume” line is available in 1 cup and ½ cup sizes. PBA and PVC free. 

(re)zip Lunch Sandwich by BlueAvocado

(re)zip half-cup size by BlueAvocado

Zing Anything What’s more refreshing on the go than fresh water infused with fresh fruit?  The Citrus Zinger offers an easy way to extract juice and flavor from citrus fruits and deliver them directly into your water bottle. Creating delicious lemonades, limeades and orangeades, the Citrus Zinger flavor infuser is great for active lifestyles. Perfect for yoga, the office, or around town, the Citrus Zinger is designed to easily add ice via a bottom opening, and typically produces two drinks per Zing. It’s BPA/Halogen/EA and Phthalates free.

Citrus Zinger sports line by Zing Anything

Corepack by Cabeau Cabeau is known for creating travel products at the crossroads of comfort, luxury and function. Their new backpack line features the CorePack, which offers superior comfort and generous storage space. It also features a padded laptop compartment with built-in pockets everywhere you look, both inside and outside. Comfort levels are sky high because of additional touches including ergonomic straps, generous back padding, and mesh that permits air flow. Made with durable ballistic material, the CorePack is built for the long haul.

Corepack Backpack by Cabeau

Hydra Bottles by Copco – Hydra Bottles by Copco make it easy and colorful to stay hydrated.   The handy, re-usable bottles are look-alikes for the throw-away variety making it easy to change habits. Hydra bottles are durable with a soft-grip color band, and are also BPA free.  The bottles hold 16.9 ounces, with a leak-proof, easy-off lid so it’s convenient to load ice cubes of any size because the bottle twists off in the middle. With a history spanning more than 40 years, Copco knows how to handle water, as it’s one of the leading makers of ergonomically-friendly, stainless-steel teakettles in more than 50 styles and colors.

Hydra Bottle by Copco

Contigo – Contigo’s history is firmly rooted in Chicago, where it was founded more than 10 years ago. Today Contigo serves as the center of excellence for beverage ware design for its parent company, Newell Rubbermaid. The new Tranquil 20 oz.-capacity water bottles are truly a vessel of calm, and clad in comfortable non-slip silicones sleeve in array of colors. It opens two ways to add ice cubes and clean easily. Contigo’s new Purity Glass Water Bottle is ideal for those who prefer a plastic-free container. It’s dressed in a wrap-around silicone sleeve, with a peak-a-boo cut out, and delights with a mesh wrist carrying chain that rivals the attractiveness of any bracelet. In both the Purity and Tranquil models, a wide mouth makes for easy guzzling.   For kids, check out Contigo’s Gizmo Sip, Flip Chill and Cortland water bottles.

Purity glass water bottle by Contigo

Tranquil water bottle by Contigo

iCOOLer – It takes a dedicated entrepreneur to enter the massive Home + Housewares Show to pitch new products above the the roar of the crowd.  iCOOLer founder and president Wali Azamy got motivated by observing how many times his kids’ lunch boxes were left in the classroom, without refrigeration. He set out to build a better lunch box that would keep perishable ingredients, like mayonnaise and cheese, from spoiling. The stand-out feature of iCOOLer is that it does away with ice packs, which can get messy or lost. Instead, a non-toxic, re-freezable gel is built into the lunch box’s lining on all six sides. The benefit? Lunches and beverages stay cool and fresh for hours. For extra convenience, the iCOOLer lunch bags’ zippered top provides easy access to everything inside. To use the iCOOLer, simply place it in the freezer overnight and it’s ready for use in the morning.

Bottle iCOOLer by iCOOLER

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