Decades ago, it wasn't unusual for people to view spending time in the kitchen as a chore and even a bore.
Fast forward to today's gadget-heavy, technologically savvy and food conscious society where stepping into the kitchen offers a playground of interesting opportunities for creativity and fun.
During the 2013 International Home and Housewares Show held in early March at Chicago's McCormick Place, manufacturers from around the world showcased an assortment of attractive, interesting and appealing to use items.
"People can relate to many of the new products," said Lisa Casey Weiss, lifestyles consultant for the International Housewares Association. "Many of them make it seem so easy (to use and to make recipes)," she said.
In addition, many of the cool and whimsical products engage the family and children.
"It's fun for your family and it's fun for you," Casey Weiss said, adding when you make your own items at home it's often less expensive than going out to purchase various foods or ordering them in a restaurant.
Everything from cake decorating products, special sandwich makers, popcorn makers, colorful plateware and multi-use gadgets were in the spotlight at the show.
Casey Weiss said manufacturers are also drawing more people into the kitchen with bold colors and catchy designs for their products. Bold reds, oranges, blues, purples and pinks were seen in many items.
Curious about some of the attractive products on the scene this year? The following items were just some of the products starring at this year's show.
HOW SWEET IT IS
Holstein Housewares offers a line of sleek items geared to putting the fun factor in your kitchen spotlight. Holstein's Cake Bite Maker and Brownie Maker allow home cooks to produce small treats in record time. Both products have non-stick coating, a baking safety lock and an indicator light that turns red when your goodies are ready.
The company even has something geared to the furry friends in your family - a Pet Treat Maker, which turns out treats appropriately shaped like dog bones. FYI: holsteinhousewares.com
DUFF GOLDMAN PRODUCTS
As the star of Food Network's "Ace of Cakes," Duff Goldman produces a plethora of creative designs by Gartner Studios. Home cooks can decorate like a pro with his line of products, which include Candy Writers, Cake Graffiti, Gum Paste Decor, Airbrush Machine, Decorative Cake and Cupcake Wires, Cake Charms, and more. FYI: duff.com or gartnerstudios.com
Schererville resident chef Joe Arvin, who starred on the reality show "Big Brother" demonstrated a variety of items for The Legacy Companies at the Housewares Show. Among the items he showcased was the Deco Spoon from Zeroll.
Deco Spoon allows even amateur kitchen artists to decorate their plates in dazzling ways similar to professional pastry chefs. It's easy to achieve a work of art on the plate with this gadget. FYI: zeroll.com
The Keurig MINI Plus personal brewing system remained a standout at the show for its ease of use, its sleek, contemporary design and availability of color choice.
Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or iced tea can be made in the appliance. The item also comes in 10 different colors, including red, cobalt blue, flash green, banana yellow, purple, and orange. It's compact, has a removable drip tray and features K-Cup packs to be used in the machine. K-Cup packs are offered in a variety of flavors including Newman's Own, Sleepytime Tea and more. FYI: Keurig.com
Billed as the "mug that never falls over," the Mighty Mug is perfect for traveling or setting alongside computers and other electronic gadgetry. It has Smartgrip technology so the mug doesn't move if bumped and comes in a variety of colors. It comes in a long, tall design or a short desk mug design. FYI: TheMightyMug.com