The housewares industry has ideas about plastic tools you need in your kitchen that you may never have heard of before. Like a lettuce knife.
Two major brands debuted a lettuce knife during the International Housewares Show in Chicago: Oxo International Ltd.'s Good Grips and Zyliss, part of Diethelm Keller Brands AG. And other firms are planning their own versions of the thermoplastic knife as a new niche product.
Both firm make the blade out of injection molded ABS, with Oxo featuring a clear blade with a black handle and Zyliss offering knives in green, red or yellow.
The basic idea behind the knives is that a typical metal knife reacts with the chemical structure in lettuce to create brown spots on the leaf. Plastic makes a clean cut for people who prefer to use a knife rather than tear the leaves, said Michelle Sohn, category director for Oxo.
Oxo, of Chambersburg, Pa., previously marketed an all-black nylon lettuce knife, but clear ABS has a cleaner look, she said in an interview at the show.
Despite the name, both firms maintain that the lettuce knife is not a one-trick kitchen pony. It can be used on other vegetables as well as baked goods or lasagna made in a nonstick pan that can be damaged by a metal blade.
The knives will sell for less than $10.
They are not the only new plastic gadgets coming to U.S. consumers this year. The Jamie Oliver Flavour Shaker, invented and co-developed by the British chef and TV personality, is being introduced by Zurich-based DKB this year, about two years after it appeared on the European market.
The shaker is a two-part container with a hard shell of Sabic Innovative Plastics LP's Xylex polycarbonate/polyester with an overmolded Versollan thermoplastic elastomer from GLS Corp.
Cooks place spices, herbs, garlic or other foods inside the shaker, add a ceramic ball and shake to mix them. The shaker will retail for about $30.