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IHHS 2015: DIY foodie nirvana

March 11, 2015

The king is dead. Well … just the mascot.

It’s actually been a few years since the creepy smile-laden Burger King dude first peddled fast food on our TV screens. He’s been replaced by ads that favor flavors over quirky humor and cutesy pitchmen. Now fast food restaurants tout locally sourced ingredients and creatively crafted concoctions, such as the Carl’s Jr. Redhook beer-battered codfish sandwich. Boy, that’s a mouthful!

This is just one of many examples of foodie culture slowly seeping into mainstream consumers’ lives. Consumers continue to be more curious about new flavors and cooking techniques, electing to try more DIY cooking tasks (for a glimpse into this world, just search foodie on Pinterest). After walking through the 2015 International Home + Housewares Show, it is evident that DIY food projects are moving beyond blogs and Pinterest boards and are now influencing the next generation of kitchen gadgets and gizmos in a variety of ways.

One of these ways is giving the consumer back Control and Precision, especially for home coffee connoisseurs.

OXO unveiled OXO on at the show, its entry into electronic kitchen appliances. This suite of eight devices is headlined by the Barista Brain 12-Cup Coffee Brewing System. Counter to the K-cup brewers that have flooded the marketplace for years, the Barista Brain is a fully loaded drip coffee maker that offers more control and flexibility than your average Bed, Bath and Beyond brewer.

The Barista Brain feels more like a coffee science kit compared with the all-in-one nature of K-cup brewers. This device has a multiple silo form factor similar to the Ratio brewer and other coffee brewers aimed at automating the process and flavors of hand-dripped coffee. Its integrated scale keeps a precise count of water quantity. The one-knob interface allows you to control temperature and quantity, beyond the big or small cup convention to which many of us have become accustomed.

This control comes at a price. A whopping $299 price tag and you’ll drop another $199 if you want to pair it with OXO’s conical burr coffee grinder. That’s an expensive foray into the coffee biz from a company built on $10 spatulas!

These products are all attempting to capture this DIY feeling, the satisfaction and pride you get from creating and sharing your own flavorful concoctions.

Countering the concept of more control, another way companies are trying to capitalize off of DIY foods is Simplifying Processes.

Many hobbyist activities – home-brew beer and dairy to name a couple – have become very popular. Typically these hobbies require large upfront investments in equipment and trial and error to get tasty results. Many mainstream consumers may want to try these hobbies but are reluctant to go all-in from the start. Now companies are trying to give consumers this DIY feeling while reducing the amount of stuff and steps involved.

These companies are offering manufactured advantage. With the Beer Machine, one step and one week is all you need to produce fresh beer. Just add one beer mix packet to water and wait for 7-10 days for naturally carbonated and conditioned home-brew. With Progressive International’s fresh butter maker, churning heavy whipping cream for about 10 minutes in a convenient plastic container produces fresh, creamy butter. Change it up by adding herbs during the churning process.

While many of these gadgets sound too good to be true, too expensive or just kinda gross (beer Kool-Aid, ewwww), it’s easy to see DIY foods becoming more popular for years to come. These products are all attempting to capture this DIY feeling, the satisfaction and pride you get from creating and sharing your own flavorful concoctions. Only time will tell which inventions stick and which end up as late-night infomercial rejects, but think about it – five years ago we weren’t making our own sodas, fresh pastas and BBQ at nearly the same rate we do now.

Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself dishing out grass-fed burgers on locally sourced ciabatta buns topped with homemade pickles, homemade cottage cheese, and homemade garlic butter emulsion. Wash that down with an (insert your name here) home-brew IPA, and you’re in DIY foodie heaven. Or if that’s too much work, there’s always the Burger King and a sixer of High Life!

Curious about the world of DIY foods? Spend a yummy afternoon trying a project from one of my favorite blogs Serious Eats.