A better life for a few dollars more

 IF you are overweight with a sinus problem and wrinkled clothing, and you wish your children would spend more time with you, and you are so worried about identity theft that you can’t sleep at night so you want to go to the kitchen and cook up some chicken, but you are afraid salmonella will get on the paper towels, it’s a darn shame you didn’t make it to the International Home and Housewares Show 2010 sneak preview at the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan last week, where they had all the tools to turn your sorry life around.

You could even have borrowed Kuhn Rikon’s battery-operated frosting pen ($29.95), which comes with three cartridges, to write yourself an inspirational message. Our favorite was the one invoked by Elyse Kaye, a senior product manager at Black & Decker, at the company’s shredder display: “It is so important to shred.”

Suddenly, shredding assumed the moral weight of flossing.

Still, there was something to be said for Black & Decker’s World’s First Wall Mount Shredder & Messaging Center ($79.99), with the magnetic bulletin board one mere mood swing away from the shredder slot. Annoyed with the boyfriend? Into the shredder his photo goes. Toss in your joint credit cards, too. Wave goodbye to him in a shower of homemade confetti.

True, a number of products at the preview — a curtain-raiser for the big housewares show in March in Chicago — were newish rather than new. But let us start in a romantic mist, near the entrance, where the teardrop-shaped Crane Cool Mist humidifiers ($49.99) were set up alongside photos of the kiddie line of steamers, which included a penguin, a leopard and an elephant.

Katie Sotor, who works in sales and marketing at Crane, said that during the swine flu scare, they flew off the shelf. And with the recent Food and Drug Administration advisory that over-the-counter cough medications should not be given to children under age 4, she added, humidifiers are an excellent option.

“We were the first ones to come up with the idea of creating misters” in the shape of animals, Ms. Sotor said. “Froggie is probably our signature. The elephant was on ‘30 Rock.’ When Tina Fey had her boyfriend over, it was part of her nighttime routine. She had her PJ’s and her Kleenex, then she turns on her humidifier.”

Did she have a sinus problem? Did he stay over?

Ms. Sotor became vague. “It was an episode,” she said.

So many products: the Sodastream “earth friendly” soda maker (starting at $89.95); the Candle Warmers plug-in fragrance warmer ($7.99); the Swiss Laurastar steam iron system (starting at $1,999), available for the first time in the United States and enthusiastically demonstrated by Serge Voitchovsky, who spoke with such a heavy French accent, it was as if Inspector Clouseau had opened a dry cleaning store.

“Alors!” Mr. Voitchovsky sang, poufing up a flattened mohair sweater.

Greg Dua and Ed Bloom, the owners of Head Chefs, a company that makes a line of kitchen tools for children with silicone handles shaped like asexual bodies and things like pot scrubbers or spoons in place of a head ($6.99 to $12.99), were insisting that their products are a great way to get your children to spend time with you in the kitchen. They have high ambitions for a vegetable slicer called El Poquito Diablo, which they are hoping will be the star of a children’s cooking show. They whipped out a photo of El Diablo who was tilting as lasciviously as is possible for a slicer to tilt toward a perky blond woman.

“He’s going to have a crush on her in the show,” Mr. Dua said.

Time to check out the Clean Cut Touchless automatic paper towel dispenser ($130), from Smart Product Innovations.

Why would anyone need a hands-free paper towel dispenser?

“Cross-contamination,” said Tom Little, the company’s director of sales and marketing. “Say you’re cooking a chicken and you had E. coli on the chicken — once you grab the roll, you’re passing whatever bacteria are on your hands to the rest of the roll.”

Don’t germs die on that surface?

“No,” Mr. Little said. “They live, just like when you touch the door handle at the convenience store.”

Dina Rezvanipour, the vice president of Distinctive Assets, was showing off Slimware, a line of melamine plates ($34.95 for a set of four) decorated with patterns that recommend portion sizes for vegetables, carbohydrates and proteins. She was so amiable that we did not have the heart to point out that one of the company’s new designs, Belladonna, is named after a highly toxic plant.

Ms. Rezvanipour, who is 25 and a size 2, does not have need of the plate herself.

“My mother uses it,” she said. “Lash, the owner, he’s from the South, his family uses it. They put their fried chicken on it. Of course, it really shouldn’t be fried.”