In 1968, Hammacher Schlemmer introduces America to the first "Telephone Valet" - now commonly known as an answering machine - and the Radarange Microwave Oven for home use.
On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated while standing on his hotel balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, inciting riots in major American cities for several days following the tragic event. In a prophetic speech the day before, King said, "...Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man."
A hostess could not only purchase fine cookware, dinnerware, and silver serving platters from Hammacher Schlemmer, but also a gourmet meal itself. Among our culinary offerings is a fully-cooked Gwaltney Easter ham from Virginia "baked, glazed, and decorated with fruit", and our "Deluxe White Hamper" packed with delicacies such as whole grain caviar and Droste chocolate oysters.
In a September 1968 profile in Merchandising Week, Dominic Tampone describes the typical Hammacher Schlemmer item, "it's brand new ... it could be too clever in concept for looks. It could be like a Rube Goldberg contraption. But the idea is good and it serves the purpose for which it is intended."
The front cover of our Spring catalog features our Irish stickproof cookware. Specially made with a "uniquely formulated cast iron core with a bonded-white porcelain enamel exterior and black Teflon lining", the non-stick finish is cast in the iron rather than coated on as in usual non-stick pans. The cookware is propped with a selection of our life-size antique frogs. "They're Austrian. They're cast in bronze an painted in natural colors," states the catalog copy, but, apparently, they are not for sale-at least, not in this catalog.