By Andrea Lillo
Food trends may come and go, but when it comes to Thanksgiving, consumers don’t want to fool with tradition. What Mom and Grandma made for the holiday in decades past is what everyone wants today as well. And in the same vein, the season has staple kitchenware items, such as turkey lifters and gravy separators, that drive this business every year.
But consumers still welcome anything that makes food prep easier, especially during the hectic holiday season, and manufacturers have improved on the basics whenever possible. And as these items are a relatively inexpensive category, consumers don’t have to think twice about picking them up.
“We find that consumers are very traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving—they want to use the same items that their mothers and grandmothers used,” said Chris McCarthy, vice president and manager, M.E. Heuck. The company’s founder, Mathilde Heuck, started the company with a turkey lacer in 1922, which is still sold today and is one of Heuck’s most popular products, along with the Pop Up Timer.
“Our packaging reflects this tradition—the consumer can find the same packaging styles that they remember from their childhood,” McCarthy said. “We find that retailers needs can be quite specific in terms of displays. This is the reason that we can customize all of our displays to each retailer’s needs.”
One of Heuck’s new products for this fourth quarter will be its Hamilton Beach Elite non-stick roasters, which feature the company’s Easy Lift Rack with full-sized handles, so the turkey can be lifted easily out of the roaster. And the rack also fits completely into the bottom of the roaster, so it doesn’t slide around the bottom of the pan, McCarthy added.
Nifty Home Products was also founded to create solutions for cooking turkeys, starting with turkey lifters. Now, its newest generation of lifters have removable handles that snap on and off, so “they’re not in the way of carving the turkey,” said Todd Hertaus, sales director. And for year-round use, the company recently released its Pizza/Pie Companion, a patented oven guard with rack that bakes the center as well as the edges of either pies or frozen pizzas and prevents burning. Other holiday-related items from the company’s line includes a three-tier oven companion, a poultry shield and an expandable cooking rack.
“People are not traveling much; families are staying home and making traditional dinners,” said Hertaus, whose company saw sales go up with the economic downturn. “People are moving back to basics and they’re looking at how they are spending their dollars. Our products are not expensive, but serve a convenient purpose.”
Meyer Corp. observes the same trend. “We are seeing a strong return to keeping and cherishing traditions, which will be especially evident at retail during Thanksgiving, one of the most popular, family-oriented holidays of the year,” said Suzanne Murphy, vice president of marketing, Meyer Corp., U.S. One of the company’s fall releases will be in its Paula Deen Signature line with pie press/cutters that have iconic fall and Thanksgiving shapes. “These fun-to-use accessories will allow home bakers to easily decorate their holiday pies with professional flourish,” she added.
Retailers are looking for “delightful, easy to use, practical kitchen tools and accessories that speak directly to specific holidays and occasions, and help drive self-purchase and gift buying,” Murphy added.
Among its new Thanksgiving items, Lifetime Brands has introduced a roaster with a patent-pending “slide ease” rack that features a drop-down side, so it’s easy and safe to slide the turkey out of the roaster onto a platter or cutting board.
Overall, Thanksgiving products are impulse items bought at the same time consumers are shopping for groceries and other necessities, said Tony Arancio, senior vice president, kitchenware merchandising, Lifetime Brands. “The season has started earlier—some retailers are setting up turkey displays in late September, capitalizing on impulse sales,” he added. “Consumers want to find all of their turkey needs in one location at a retail store and they are more willing to buy everything they need if it is merchandised together.”