issue: June 2004 APPLIANCE Magazine
Cooking Up New Innovations
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by Tina Grady, Managing Editor
The cooking sector of the appliance industry is heating up with innovative entrants into the marketplace, the popularity of customization, and the continued growth of the outdoor kitchen.
The Preference® 36-in All-Gas Cooktop from DACOR
(Diamond Bar, CA, U.S.) features two new SimmerSear™ burners
that range from 18,000 to 500 BTUs (pictured) and 12,500 to 400
The cooking segment of the appliance industry
during the past few years has seen growth as manufacturers continue
incorporate new technologies into their cooking appliances. The continued
growth and popularity of industry trade shows such as the Hearth, Patio
and Barbecue Association Expo (HPBA) and the Kitchen and Bath Industry
Show (K/BIS), both of which focus on cooking appliances, bear out these
trends. Both conventions this year saw incredible growth in attendance
and exhibitors, reaching record numbers.
This helps confirm that not
only is the cooking segment of the appliance
industry growing, but that there are more innovations being developed
that appliance makers want to tout.
This continued innovation coupled
with economic recovery may be responsible for growth in this segment
of the appliance industry. Some say these
have served as the impetus for many consumers to try to create an atmosphere
geared more toward entertaining so there is no need to leave the home.
of this entertaining is cooking, which means there is also an increased
demand for the cooking appliances. This is where many of the technologically
advanced cooking appliances come in—as well as the outdoor kitchen,
which has grown in popularity and become part of an entire outdoor living
“The whole outdoor room has really opened up opportunities,”
confirms Leslie Wheeler, director of Communications for the HPBA, the
official sponsor of the HPBA Expo.
Many industry analysts and manufacturers
also attribute growth to the
Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. and the conflicts that have occurred
around the world during the past few years. “Since 9/11, there
has been endless talk of nesting, cocooning, and now, ‘hiving’
or ‘connecting,’” Donna Meyers, spokeswoman for the
HPBA Expo, said in a written statement. “Whatever the terminology,
the bottom line is that more people than ever before are spending time
with family and friends in the comfort and safety of their own homes
on the Kitchen
This additional time spent cooking and entertaining inside the home
has spurred consumers to want new and improved cooking appliances. Sharp
Corporation (Mahwah, NJ, U.S.) has adeptly timed its entrance into the
major appliance marketplace with this opportunity.
While Sharp has been
a player in the appliance industry and is noted for
its microwaves, at this year’s K/BIS, held April 2-4 in Chicago,
IL, U.S., Sharp announced that it is forging ahead into the major appliances
category with the introduction of a new range.
“We have been a major player in the microwave industry,” Joy
Weis Daniel, associate director of Product Development, Microwave Oven
Department, Sharp, tells APPLIANCE. “We entered the major appliances
category to meet the demand of the marketplace and remain a viable business
for our stakeholders. We also have a long history of being associated
with cooking appliances and have always enjoyed a reputation for microwave
ovens that cook very well. With that background, we thought it was logical
to parlay our cooking experience and move into the major appliance industry.”
introduced the Sharp Insight™ Range with Microwave Drawer,
which the company says is the first of its kind. The Insight Range combines
a smooth cooktop, conventional or convection oven, and the Microwave
and is available in standard 30-in wide freestanding or slide-in models.
Its Microwave Drawer has an output power of 1,000 W with a capacity
1 cu ft and a liquid crystal display (LCD) touch screen that provides
users with step-by-step instructions, convection time conversions,
The range incorporates Sharp’s sensor cooking technology
for microwave cooking or reheating, and select models are equipped with “true”
European-type High Velocity Convection™, which reportedly provides
even heat and consistent temperature for faster cooking. It is scheduled
for release in the fourth quarter of 2004.
The range has all front-mounted
controls as opposed to the typical back-mounted controls. “We decided
even though it is easier to put them in the back because the connections
would be at the wall, when you look at the
lifestyle of people using the appliance, we decided front-mounted controls
would be better,” Ms. Daniel explains. “We look not just
at the appliance, but how it’s being used,” she says. This
is important for all appliance makers to note, she adds, especially
cooking appliances, where customization is more common and where people
are investing heavily.
This is another reason why, Ms. Daniel says,
Sharp offers extensive built-in kits and applications with its microwave
ovens. “You can have in-wall
models, over-the range, etc. in any color you want and in any style you
want,” she says.
Sharp has also introduced the R-2120J and R-2110J
models of its 2.1-cu-ft Smart Carousel® Over-the-Range microwaves,
which were the largest of this kind while being developed, but are
now only second to Panasonic’s
2.2-cu ft microwave, according to Ms. Daniel. Both over-the-range Sharp
models are sans turntables, but reportedly offer the same type of
cooking offered in models with a turntable. Ms. Daniel attributes this
to the unique heating distribution system used below the floor of
microwave. The system, she says, is a combination of a very large antenna
and two specialized types of stirrer fans. “All three components
work in conjunction with each other to distribute the microwave heating,”
Ms. Daniel says. The distribution system is currently patent pending.
“We think the kitchen with its accompanying family room are and
will continue to be the hub of the home,” Ms. Daniel notes. “We
believe that people will continue to spend money to update the kitchen
because of the amount of time they spend in it. As our younger generations
move into creating homes, I believe that it is going to be more important
than ever to provide easy-to-use appliances with built-in information.”
Inc.’s (Lake Forest, IL, U.S.) introduction of the Beyond
Connected Home product line, a group of networked home products primarily
focused in the kitchen, corroborates Ms. Daniel’s observation.
Included in Salton’s Beyond line is the Beyond Microwave, which
according to the company, cooks food evenly each time the microwave
is used by swiping
the barcode found on food packaging. The microwave comes programmed with
4,000 barcode settings in its memory and updates itself with several
additional settings when networked with the Home Hub, Salton’s
control center for its connected appliance line. Users may also add
UPCs and program cooking times.
“People today face increasingly demanding schedules, and these
products are designed with that in mind,” Bob Lamson, managing
director of the Beyond product line for Salton, observes. “Contemporary
families want life at home to be less complicated so they can focus
on the people
and things that really matter.”
That’s exactly why the Home
Appliance Division of LG Electronics (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, U.S.) says
it developed its new microwave combination
products—the Combination Radio and Microwave Oven, the Combination
Toaster and Microwave Ovens (LTM9000ST, LTM9000W, and LTM9000B), and
LG Glide & Cook microwave ovens (LMVM1945S and LMVM1955S).
Radio and Microwave Oven, which, at press time, was slated to be available
in May 2004, is a 1.2-cu-ft microwave oven, an FM radio,
and a voice recorder with playback options. Some of the appliance’s
features include 1,100 W of power, a 1.2-cu-ft cavity, a four-digit,
LED display, a microphone for voice recording, an FM Radio with tuner/auto
scan buttons and volume dial, and nine auto-cook food categories.
“The kitchen tends to be the first room family members come to when
they get home from work or school or running errands. With this in mind,
we developed an easy and convenient way for them to stay in touch, to
leave reminders for one another, or even to leave detailed instructions
about what’s for dinner and how to get it started,” Simon
Kang, president, Home Appliance Division, LG Electronics U.S.A. Inc.,
said in an announcement about the new combo products.
Traeger Wood Pellet Grill from Traeger Industries (Mt.
Angel, OR, U.S.) works by having an auger that automatically
feeds hardwood pellets from the pellet hopper into the
fire pot. Air is added via a draft fan, which helps the
pellets combust in the firepot, similar to a mini-forge.
Wood heat rises up and surrounds the food. A microprocessor
control board regulates the speed at which the auger operates.
There are three switch settings on Traeger’s standard
control—high, medium, and smoke. Pictured are the
company’s pig-shaped and Texas long-horned steer
grills, two of many customized, novelty grills that Traeger
According to high-end appliance maker Wolf Appliance Company (Madison,
WI, U.S.), customization is another trend growing out of families spending
more time at home. As a result, the company has introduced upgraded gas
cooktops and two unframed electric cooktop models, the latter of which
allow consumers more flexibility, says Paul Leuthe, corporate marketing
manager and Product Development Committee member for Sub-Zero Freezer
Company/Wolf Appliance Company. Wolf introduced its CT30EU and CT36EU
unframed electric cooktops at the K/BIS show this year. The cooktop
flush-mounted and has no metal frame so it “can sink right in wherever
you put it,” Mr. Leuthe says. “We changed some of the design
elements to ensure it was insulated properly and made sure there were
no conflicting issues in regards to heat.”
The 30-in unframed electric
cooktop is black ceramic and has four ribbon-type radiant heating elements
with six temperature zones, including one with
a maximum power of 2,200 W on the outer ring and 750 W on the inner ring,
and the other with a maximum power of 1,900 W on the outer ring and
W on the inner ring. The 36-in model contains five heating elements with
eight zones, which include a triple-zone element with a maximum power
of 2,700 W on the outer ring, 2,200 W on the middle ring, and 1,050 W
on the inner ring. The model has a dual-zone element maximum power of
2,200 W on the outer ring, 750 W on the inner ring, and three single-zone
elements with a power maximum of 1,800 W, 1,500 W, and 1,200 W, respectively.
Beer, president of Maytag Appliances (Newton, IA, U.S.), recognizes
a demand for personalization. He says that people want their appliances
and the environment in which the appliances are being used specifically
tailored to meet their needs because they want performance. This is
true when it comes to cooking appliances, he says.
“Performance is important in cooking,” Mr. Beer tells APPLIANCE.
“Unlike with a refrigerator, there is a product that comes out
of using cooking appliances, and it is usually the user serving the
to other people.” That’s why Maytag has introduced its Jenn-Air
brand JDR8895AS 30-in dual-fuel, slide-in, double oven. The freestanding
model, which was introduced at K/BIS and will be on the market in Fall
2004, has gas fuel on top and is electric below. The pastry oven, one
of the two double ovens, is 1.2 cu ft and was developed to heat up in
one-half the time of a standard-sized oven to warm breads and pastries.
an option such as this is “critically important,” says
Mr. Beer, because consumers want choices. “Traditional cooking
meant a 30-in range in a kitchen,” he says. “Now there are
various types of ranges and ovens. People want to customize—to
be able to mix and match. Some may have one wall oven and two cooktops
or just one
cooktop and double ovens.”
The oven also has a commercial look to
it, again part of the customization trend, Mr. Beer says. “Some
people want the commercial look in household appliances because they
get the feeling they are cooking on the same range
as the great chefs of the world,” he notes. “This makes people
feel like professional cooks, and cooking really is a reflection of
Just look at all of the ‘foodies.’”
Over-the Range ProGourmet™ Oven from Samsung Electronics
(Ridgefield Park, NJ, U.S.) is a non-standard microwave
that uses five independent heat sources in varying combination—microwave
(950 W), convection (700 W and 1,600 W), and brown (450
W and 900 W).
also has 100 pre-programmed cooking modes for commonly
prepared foods. Jeff Armstong, product planning manager,
Samsung Home Appliances, tells APPLIANCE, “The ProGourmet
is for people that want to get the best cooking performance
possible but still get meals in under 30 min.”
In addition to customization,
consumers are also demanding the best in performance from their cooking
appliances. This trend is driving BSH
Appliances (Huntington Beach, CA, U.S.), a division of German-based BSH
Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH. The company has just introduced
its Bosch brand 30-in freestanding convection range with the PowerSim™
burner. The appliance has core platforms in gas (HGS200), electric (HES200),
and dual-fuel (HDS200). The new line marks the company’s entry
into the freestanding range category. Franz J. Bosshard, BSH Home Appliances
president and CEO, says the company’s goal in creating the Bosch
Freestanding Convection Range was to fill a gap in the U.S. appliance
market. The 30-in electric range, which was previewed in January at this
year’s International Builder’s Show in Las Vegas, NV, U.S.
but officially launched at K/BIS 2004, uses “true” European
convection, which means the heating element is outside the unit and
the air used for the heat to cook inside. A third heating element is
located in the back wall of the oven with a fan circulating heated
air in the
oven cavity to speed cooking and provide even cooking throughout the
“This means you are able to cook an entire meal and not transfer
odor or taste from one item to the next,” explains Pete Mackin,
national director, North American distributor sales for Bosch. Select
models also feature warming drawers and extension racks.
On the electric
range, Bosch also incorporates its Touch & Turn™
oven control, which uses the mTwisT™ technology. The removeable
dial, which is held in place by a magnet under the ceramic glass on
cooktop, is the central command area for the cooktop. A user selects
the desired element on the touch-through-glass panel, and by rotating
dial, the appropriate power level is set. A second element may be selected
and again set with the single-touch rotating touch and turn of the dial.
aspect of the new Bosch range is its PowerSim™ simmer feature.
Although every gas burner on the range is capable of providing heat
to 1,500 BTUs, the simmer function can go down to 400 BTUs. “You
can melt a stick of butter on an ordinary paper plate on the PowerSim
burner and leave it there for hours without scorching the plate or the
burner,” Mr. Mackin points out. “Because of the mushroom-shaped
burner cap, the burner flame doesn’t touch the plate.” Essentially,
the flame turns itself on and off to keep the temperature low, he
Reveo from Eastman Outdoor (Flushing, MI, U.S.) brings
a new category into the cooking industry. The marinator
uses a MariVac™ Pump, which is said to the
highest-powered vacuum pump for at-home marination.
The internal pump works by pulling out the air from
the barrel and stretching the foods products’ fibers
to allow marinade penetration.
to Eastman, an entire chicken can be marinated in 20
min. The device also contains a pressure dial, a valve
that keeps out pressure, on the marinator’s barrel.
The barrel itself rolls and its agitation, in conjunction
with the built-in paddles, tenderizes the food and
is said to help knead in more flavor. The device, which
will be available in July 2004, also contains an automatic
Cooking and Living
Another trend affecting the cooking appliance segment is low-carbohydrate,
high-protein diets such as the Atkins Diet and The South Beach Diet.
believe that if these eating habits remain popular, the outdoor appliance
makers, particularly grill manufacturers, may be able to capitalize
this trend. “Consumers on the low-carb diets do add to the market
because they are mostly cooking meats and can do so on the grill,”
says Mike Kempster, executive vice president for Weber-Stephen Products
Co. (Palatine, IL, U.S.). The meat-heavy diets of consumers following
the fad may help boost grill shipments, which were down last year, he
The barbecue industry is expecting to return to its past numbers
14 million-pus grill shipments a year in 2004 after a slight drop last
year, Ms. Meyers of HPBA says. Household ownership of barbecue grills
is already at 72 percent, indicating that despite the slight dip from
previous years, grills are still seeing healthy sales and shipments,
to the HPBA.
Mr. Kempster says he can attest to this—Weber-Stephen
has seen double digit increases in its sales from this time last year.
Although the diet
trends could be a part of this, he also credits an increase in consumer
confidence for the increase in sales. “Last year, the [U.S.] war
[with Iraq] was just starting,” Mr. Kempster remarks. “People
were glued to the TV, and it hurt sales. This was at the beginning
the grilling season.
“Also, it had just come out of one of the wettest, coldest springs
on the [U.S.] Eastern Seaboard. This was reflected in sales,” he
continues. Mr. Kempster predicts, however, that the slump has begun
see an upturn, and he expects this will continue.
In tandem with the upturn,
the outdoor rooms have gained even more popularity since their advent
a few years back, and this is helping the grilling
and outdoor cooking industry, say Mr. Kempster and others in the industry.
According to Weber’s Outdoor Room Tracking Study, Americans are
increasingly adding outdoor living spaces designed around entertaining,
and more than half of the grill owners who responded to the study have
an outdoor room and plan to upgrade the cooking and dining areas of
In addition, the study showed that 50 percent of people who own
grills use them year-round. “Appliances such as sinks and cabinets,
which are typically thought of for the indoors, are moving outside,” Mr.
Kempster notes. “With the rise of the outdoor room, I think people
will spend more time outdoors and put more money into outdoor appliances.
The traditional barbecue season will change, too.”
vice president of Marketing for Weber, says now that there are so many
types of grills, including infrared, gas, charcoal,
liquid propane, convection, and conventional, outdoor cooking is also
changing. “There used to be grills that came with only three settings;
now they have many controls and technologies,” she says. “This
gives people the opportunity to do more than just [the typical] backyard
fare. You can do cakes and pies on the grills now—you can even
cook a turkey on it.”
Weber-Stephen and others are capitalizing
on this opportunity. Weber-Stephen has just introduced its Summit Gold
Built-in Series, with grills that
feature between four- to six-burner units that allow users to prepare
corn or other side dishes while grilling at the same time. The series
also allows installers to build features around the grills, such as countertop
Although there are several built-in grills on the market, Mr.
Kempster says that his company’s appliance is unique because if
it needs to be serviced, the grill is able to do a 360-degree rotation
so all sides
of the grill can be accessed. The inaccessibility of grill components
is often a problem in built-in grills, he says. Additionally, if installing
outdoor cabinetry, a space may just be left and only a single gas connection
would be needed for operation. “We’re the first to do it
this way,” Mr. Kempster claims. “Our R&D department
followed around a team of installers and watched to see what were the
Viking Range Corporation (Greenwood, MS, U.S.) has
expanded its outdoor cooking line with its new 24-in wide gas outdoor
oven. The appliance
airflow baking and is able to be built into an enclosure. According to
Viking, the oven/grill provides a complete outdoor range. “These
new cooking products really round out the ‘Viking outdoor kitchen’
concept, says Dave Decker, Viking vice president of Culinary Products
and Business Development. The intent of the range was to provide the
for an entire meal to be prepared outdoors “without endless trips
back into the home,” he explains.
The range has grilling, surface
cooking, and baking capabilities. The oven has three heavy-duty racks
with four positions, and an optional
wide cart offers two storage drawers and front pullout access for a liquid
propane (LP) tank. At press time, the appliance and cart were projected
to be available in the second quarter of 2004.
In addition to its outdoor
cooking range, Viking has made other introductions. The company’s
Outdoor Electric Smoker is a 120-V thermal convection oven that features
louvered sidewalls that are said to produce balanced
oven heat and a plenum system that mixes heat, water vapor, and smoke.
It is scheduled to be released in the second quarter of 2004. Viking
also introduced the C4™Outdoor Cooker (Charcoal Ceramic Cooking
Capsule), which has a large cooking surface and ceramic interior to
heat retention, a thermometer in the canopy, and dampers at the bottom
and top of the grill that control the air that flows throughout the
The cooker is now available.
Fire Stone Home Products (Bloomington, MN,
U.S.), a new player to outdoor cooking, is also capitalizing on the growth
of the outdoor cooking segment.
The company, which was founded this year by Dan Shimek, former co-founder
of Heat-N-Glo™, has developed The Legacy Convection Range. The
range was unveiled at the HPBA Expo and features the HeatXchange™ patented
movable burner system, built-in searing plates, and the Grill Tech™
electronic monitoring system that tracks the cooking process and signals
users when the food is done. The LG24i and the LG36i gas-fueled convection
ranges, at press time, were expected to be available in June 2004.
steel cabinets to go with the ranges are also expected to be made available
in Summer 2004, according to Fire Stone. The company is
also planning for a warming drawer that will take the energy from the
grill contained within the range and circulate into the warming drawer.
There are also plans to add a refrigerated section to store the marinades,
meat, or vegetables to be prepared. The refrigerated portion will reportedly
work for 2 months off the gas used for the range’s grill.
to John F. Lyle, vice president of Sales and Marketing for Fire Stone,
these bells and whistles are being added because there is
for more features.
Mr. Lyle attributes this not only to increased entertaining
in home but also because “there is a huge transference of wealth
right now from the Baby Boomers,” he says. “There is a lot
of wealth changing hands. Some of the Baby Boomers may be getting inheritances
parents, and many of the Baby Boomers’ kids are out of college
now or about to get out of college. This transference of wealth and
of Sept. 11 have produced many people wanting to spend more time at home.
We are seeing people wanting to invest in their most important asset—their
“This is becoming the time in their lives where they can enjoy the
fruits of what they have been able to accomplish,” Mr. Lyle continues.
And this, he says, is good news for indoor and outdoor cooking appliance
makers. “After all,” he concludes, “just like Dorothy
said in the Land of Oz, ‘there is no place like home.’ This
holds more true now than ever.”