Americans obsessing with pressing

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"I don't get it," Heloise told me at the International Housewares Show in Chicago. "I didn't think people were ironing anymore, but this place is full of irons!"

Evidently, even Heloise of household-hints fame, whose internationally syndicated column has helped millions of people remove stains from carpets, dust mites from sofas, and clean grime from ovens, can still learn something new.

McCormick Place, the convention center that was home for four days last month to this major annual trade show, was indeed transformed into iron central.

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Thirty-two exhibitors in all displayed the appliances and talked up new looks and colors. Women sporting big hair, bright lipstick, and shimmery metallic pantsuits steamed shirtsleeves, hoping to catch the eyes of prospective buyers. And executives whispered at conference tables, making deals with goblets of seltzer water in one hand and sleek white irons in the other.

Outside the exhibit hall, A.J. Riedel of Riedel Marketing Group ticked off trends for 2001. "Americans are still obsessed with saving time and effort," she told a rapt audience. "But they are ironing clothes more than ever."

If that's not enough of a puzzle, Rowenta, the West German company that makes top-quality models for top prices, discovered in a recent study that Americans even press pajamas, boxer shorts, and socks. Finding that 60 percent of Dallas denizens iron their blue jeans, 46 percent of Miami residents iron T-shirts, and 21 percent of New Yorkers can't stand wrinkled sheets, Rowenta marketers concluded that Americans' pressing habits are "extreme."

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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