Gadget: Magic Lock Mug

It will not fall over and spill if pushed side way.

The suction cup will hold the cup steady and release it when you lift the cup straight up.

The twin-wall structure of the cup also helps to keep the drink inside warm or cool.

The price is around 2,000 yen depending on the colour of the mug (choice of 3 colours).

Gadget: Frozen Yogurt Maker

Kate Krader wrote

The kitchen counter has become a crowded place. Alongside coffee machines, mixers, and toasters are now juicers, dehydrators, soda makers, and the darling of the home cooking set, the all-purpose Instapot.

A new machine that wants to take its place in the gleaming, stainless-steel lineup: the Wim frozen yogurt maker. The unassuming, 15-pound gadget, similar in size to a Nespresso machine, plans to use convenient flash-freezing technology to become a major player in the frozen dessert category, which is estimated at $28 billion nationally and $60 billion worldwide. (Market research company Research & Markets projects that frozen desserts will be nearly a $30 billion industry in the U.S. by 2020.)

An AirBnB Epiphany

Wim was conceived by entrepreneur Bart Stein. A veteran of Google in the late 2000s, Stein’s first startup was Stamped, a social recommendations app. It was Marissa Mayer’s first acquisition at Yahoo in 2012 and boasted a list of investors ranging from Bain Capital to Justin Bieber, Ellen deGeneres, Ryan Seacrest, and Mario Batali.

Stein got the idea for Wim on vacation at an Airbnb in the Catskills woods in the winter of 2014 with friends who included Wim co-founder Anthony Cafaro. The group wanted to make dessert but found nothing that would help them get the job done in their rented kitchen. “There was an appliance for everything from coffee, to waffles, to soda; we realized there was no appliance for frozen dessert,” recounted Stein.

That is, strictly speaking, not true. There are hundreds of ice cream and frozen yogurt makers on the market, from the $1,200 Dream Ice Cream Machine to a Swirlio Frozen Fruit Dessert Maker that costs less than $30. But none of them is ubiquitous in the way that Sodastream has dominated the carbonated beverage category, perhaps because none projects a message of such simplicity. Most ice cream makers require you to make a custard base by boiling milk, sugar, and eggs, and freezing the mixture for hours. For noncooks such as Stein, the frozen dessert appliance market might as well not have existed. “I wasn’t aware there were ice cream makers, that’s how unuseful they are,” he said.

Building a Better Machine

Stein determined that he could bring an appliance to market that would create a fresh, high-quality product for people without a lot of cooking skills or the desire to put effort into making their dessert. He secured backing from notable Silicon Valley VC firms Shasta, Homebrew, and Khosla. (Stein wouldn’t reveal how much funding he got but claimed it’s a relatively modest amount compared with such products as the June Oven. “Some people use tens of millions of dollars to create an oven; we wanted to be more scrappy.”)

His first major hire in 2015 was a chef. Jena Derman was a six-plus-year veteran of Milk Bar, the New York bakery that had put cereal milk soft serve on the culinary map. Together, Stein, Cafaro, and Derman decided the focus should be frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, to bring a healthier product to a category dominated by sugar. It was also the era when frozen yogurt storefronts had colonized major cities, a testament to the popularity of the product.

The Design

To build the machine, Stein enlisted engineers from OXO, the kitchen appliance company, Woodward, the aerospace company, and Apple. Stein made a rule at the beginning: just one button. “We didn’t want this to be an appliance that’s smarter than you are, that requires Wi-Fi or Bluetooth,” Stein said. We wanted to make it simple. Just press one button when the yogurt is done, and the machine stops. I want people to have a fresh bowl of frozen yogurt to eat, not a crazy display of lights and buttons.”

Another priority was to make the process exceedingly clean. “When we looked at appliances in the market, we found machines you have to take apart and a long cleaning process. We designed Wim not to be messy. The frozen yogurt doesn’t touch the appliance; it’s definitely a Nespresso approach,” said Stein.

To do this, the Wim team designed the single-service containers in aluminum bowls, made in Illinois at the same factory that produces Altoid containers. Each has a recyclable paddle to combine the milk and freeze-dried organic yogurt mix.

It took a team of 10 people almost two years to create the machine. It’s not easy to make a compact appliance with an elaborate cooling system. “In the kitchen, only large machines like refrigerators get cold quickly. The brief was to develop technology that could get cold at the press of button with zero refrigerant. It was a challenge from an engineering perspective; patents are pending,” Stein said. (When asked about any similarities between Wim and the high-tech juicer Juicero, which similarly creates a snack from a prepackaged mix, Stein pointed to this technology.)

The Result

Meanwhile, in a facility in New Jersey, Derman perfected the yogurt mix with freeze-dried cultured dairy and flavors that evoke the pantry, such as cinnamon toast, raspberry, and brownie batter. She designed the desserts to be not too sweet or high calorie. Each bowl produces a 4 to 4½ ounce serving, with an average of 150 calories and about 10 grams of added sugar. The mix works with any milk on the market, from full-fat cow’s milk to almond milk and coconut milk. There are currently nine mixes; more are in the works (yogurt and pretzel is a natural combination) and they’ll change seasonally.

So what does it taste like? The dessert is luxuriously creamy and airy, with a tangy bite. Depending on the milk you use and the flavor you pick, the taste is almost savory (cookies and cream with regular milk) or richly tropical (passion fruit with coconut milk). Because so little sugar is added, they can function as meal replacements, at least for the set that eats cereal for dinner. And since you are using your own fresh milk, the flavor is rich with, well, milk.

The process takes about 10 minutes, from pressing the button to a bowl of frozen yogurt. It doesn’t provide instant gratification, but it is a snack you can make while you’re doing something else. “There are limitations on how fast you can safely freeze,” said Stein. “If you can make it in 4 minutes, but it doesn’t taste amazing, I’ll take 10 minutes every time.”

Another potential drawback of the machine is that it makes just one serving: It’s not ideal for a dinner party or for a crowd of hungry kids. Stein defends the decision to launch with just one machine that makes a modest amount of frozen yogurt. “The current focus is toward a single-serve machine,” explained Stein. “A lot of America is in smaller household: singles, couples, single-child households.” He said that in the future, they are planning for machines with large yields. Their first run of Wim machines is 1,000, and they are hoping to be in tens of thousands of homes by the end of 2018. “When you see Sodastream go public with a valuation of $1 billion, and then you look at the possibilities in the frozen dessert category, you get optimistic,” he said.

Wim machines go on sale recently at wimyogurt.com. The US$299 cost includes a variety five-pack of bowls. Additional bowl flavors are sold in packs of five, 10, and 20, and the flavors are customizable. Starting in the fall, Wim will be available on Amazon.com.

Source: Bloomberg

Gadget: Candy Bar Maker

The device makes customized chocolate bars with your own choice of fillings and toppings.

It includes a heated base to melt chocolate in melting pot with pouring sprout. It comes with four silicon moulds which can make 8 chocolate bars and nuggets at one time.

The moulds are put on top of the ice trays to quickly solidify the chocolate.

The maker is available from Amazon for US$40.

This Kitchen Knife Is Both Functional and Frameworthy

Ami Kealoha wrote . . . . . .

The Characteristics

Miyabi makes its knives in Seki, the home of Japanese samurai-sword makers. The brand’s $280 chef’s knife—usually an 8-inch-long blade with a 5-inch handle— is a favorite among professionals, including Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, who endorses two Miyabi cutlery series. A scalpel-sharp blade is protected by 100 layers of stainless steel, forged into a Damascene pattern, that provide added durability. It’s immersed in liquid nitrogen, a strengthening technique known as cryogenic tempering, and hand-finished in the Honbazuke three-step method to give it a polished edge. The Karelian birch handle offers a beautiful, easy-to-grip surface.

The Competition

Miyabi is owned by Zwilling J.A. Henckels, a cutlery manufacturer based in Solingen, Germany. (Henckels also sells knives under its own name.) Its biggest Japanese competition, Shun, which is owned by Kai USA Ltd., sells similar models for $240 and is also based in Seki. German-made Nesmuk uses a special Brazilian metal to justify the $550 price tag for its 7-inch chef’s knife. Another German brand, Wüsthof, offers a $150 model that’s popular and well-respected. For a more exclusive experience, sign up for one of knife master Bob Kramer’s auctions, where cutlery connoisseurs bid on five-figure, one-of-a-kind items.

The Case

Combining the heft of a Wüsthof, the strength of a Henckels, and the swiftness of a Shun, Miyabi knives effectively fuse Japanese design with workaday utility. The lightweight handle can withstand frequent use; the birch doesn’t get slick when wet or oily. The blade’s fine edge and thin profile enliven tedious duties, whether precisely removing rhubarb stems for your favorite pie or splitting chicken breasts from thighs before a weekend grill session.

Source: Bloomberg

Gadget: Ice Shaver

Made by the long-established Japanese knife manufacturer Kai (貝印)

The price of the shaver is 16,200 yen (tax included).