Distinguished Award Salutes Aviation’s Heroes

What better time than the week of Independence Day to think about some of our greatest national heroes, our military veterans.

On this day in 1926, the Distinguished Flying Cross was authorized by Congress as a military decoration awarded to any officer or enlisted member of the U.S. Armed Forces who distinguished himself or herself in support of operations by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight. Thus, it is America’s oldest military aviation award and as a unique gift of recognition, it is the only medal conferred by all five military services, in all wars and campaigns from World War I to the present.

Among those who have received the honor are Charles Lindbergh, Commander Richard Byrd, John Glenn, Chuck Yeager, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, George H.W. Bush, Amelia Earhart. and Orville and Wilbur Wright. Earhart and the Wright Brothers are among the few non-military persons to ever receive the medal, as an executive order in 1927 decreed the Cross should not be conferred on civilians.

The Distinguished Flying Cross Society was founded in 1994 to bring together those who have received this honor. Currently, there are about 6,000 members, with 23 chapters nationwide.

42914_300x300As you plan your July 4th festivities, please take a few moments to reflect on those who have served our country. May we suggest The Army Air Corps Leather Flight Jacket as an ideal and unique gift to honor a special veteran in your life? First issued to the U.S. Army aviators in 1931 and worn by flight crews throughout World War II, the A-2 flight jacket was reissued by the U.S. Air Force in 1987. It is presented in our signature gift box, making it a perfect way to say “thank you”.

12628_300x300Aviation buffs would love to receive The New York Times History of Aviation. Procured from the archives of The Times, the book presents highlights that span from the momentous first flight of the Wright Brothers to Charles Lindbergh, the first man to make a transatlantic flight and land safely. The book also chronicles Amelia Earhart, the first woman to cross the Atlantic, and her subsequent disappearance in the Pacific, a mystery to this day, but one that continues to unveil new clues even today.

11803E_300x300And finally, for those who are not pilots but have an urge to experience the unique gift of flight nonetheless, we present this genuine Cockpit Flight Simulator. It equips players with the same flight controls found in actual aircraft. Movement of the yoke controls pitch and roll just like real airplanes. Thrust levers and dual rudder pedals control realistic throttle and yaw.

Shake Summer Thirst and Beat the Heat

The peak of summer has arrived. Though many parts of the country have been logging below-normal temperatures this season, hot times and summer in the city are sure to hit us all soon. Here are some unique gifts that will help you keep your cool and stay hydrated with icy beverages.

84432_300x300On the warmest days, you’ll delight kids and adults alike with this machine that makes carnival-worthy snow cones. Its stainless steel blades automatically shave ice cubes into thin, fluffy slivers that, topped with your favorite flavored syrup or beverage, make for a refreshing treat.

76682_300x300Sweet tea is favored for its ice-cold sweetness on sweltering summer days. Our iced tea brewing machine makes up to two quarts of this iconic Dixieland refreshment that originated in the late 19th century. The brewer automatically steeps tea at the proper temperature for optimal flavor extraction and adds your preferred amount of sugar.

11255_300x300Somehow, soft drinks always seem colder out of an old-fashioned soda chest. This authentically detailed replica of the Westinghouse Junior Coca-Cola cooler combines all the hallmarks of the original with modern refrigeration technology. The side-mounted bottle opener and cap catcher, swiveling wheels, and lid chain recall the ubiquitous self-serve chests favored by mom-and-pop stores in the 1930s. The interior holds up to 80 12-oz. cans or 60 8-oz. bottles of your preferred beverage.

Once you have that Coke in hand, you’ll want it to stay cold. We offer several styles of chill-maintaining glassware. The double-walled glasses have a viscous cooling liquid between both layers that freezes in one hour, enabling the glasses to keep a beverage chilled between 32° F and 36° F for 30 minutes or chill a room-temperature libation to 36° F in just 2.5 minutes. These hand-blown glasses would make an ideal and unique gift for a housewarming or as a hostess gift for any summer party.

So enjoy these hot days while we have them. Keeping a cold drink close at hand will help you feel more comfortable all summer long.

Simple Tips for the Best Backyard BBQ

On the subject of friendly neighborhood competitions, the question came up on how to throw a better backyard barbecue.

There are fundamentals that should be observed, of course. If you’re serving steaks, buy the best cut you can afford. Better yet, grill a roast. A simple formula of 15 minutes per pound will yield a beautiful medium-rare presentation, and you can relax a bit and enjoy your guests and the unique gifts of their camaraderie while the meat cooks.

79824_300x300The flavor of your roast, as well as pretty much any meat, fish or fowl, can be made even better with smoke. This wood chip smoker box generates taste-enhancing smoke without producing flames, resulting in a more concentrated, robust flavor.

Try not to use lighter fluid to avoid a chemical after-taste on the food. If you’re using charcoal instead of a gas grill, light the coals using a chimney-style starter. Not only will the food taste better, this method is better for the environment, too.

86925_300x300To keep uncooked meats chilled till the coals are ready or to keep cold side dishes chilled until serving time, this food-chilling platter is ideal for BBQs, buffets, or picnics. The unit’s removable stainless steel platter is chilled by an included freezer pack that keeps cold meats, cheeses, hors d’oeuvres, sushi, or desserts chilled below 45° F for 50 minutes. Its plastic lid ensures protection from insects both indoors and out.

To throw a great backyard barbecue, you’ll need plenty of ice on hand for drinks and coolers. This portable ice maker earned The Best rating from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute because it was the most efficient at producing ice. This model’s 1.8 lbs.-per-hour output was 80% more efficient than other models. The Best model also produced its first batch of clear, well-formed cubes in just under 10 81846A_300x300minutes.

Finally, make sure your guests won’t be eaten alive by mosquitoes. The One Acre Natural Attractant Mosquito Trap lures pesky skeeters within one-acre by emitting heat, odorless carbon dioxide (the same gas people expel during respiration) and light. When mosquitoes are drawn inside, they die of dehydration. You can give your friends and family the unique gift of an evening under the stars, without the next day’s itchy reminders of uninvited flying pests.

Let the Mid-Summer Games Begin!

At last, summer has arrived! Celebrate these mid-summer nights with bacchanalian block parties, bonfires, and friendly competitions among family, friends, and neighbors. With our unique gift ideas, you can plan a neighborhood competition on a grand scale: your block vs. the next street over. Here are some truly different ideas to help you “settle the score” with as much fun as possible.12120_300x300

This inflatable human bowling game challenges players to assume the “roll” of the ball in knocking down a set of pins. A player simply runs forward inside the 7-foot ball, generating momentum to knock over six foam pins that yield easily at the point of collision.

12683_300x300Buy the world’s longest backyard water slide and you’ll get a 76′-long slipping, sloshing ride for children and adults. Buy two and you can have downhill, side-by-side wet slide races. Available only from Hammacher Schlemmer, three inflatable segments fit together to form a run that works optimally on declines when a garden hose wets the slide. The slider is deposited at the end of a run into a 10′-long catch pool, which can be left off when the run ends in a lake or pond.

12412_300x300Should the whole neighborhood turn out, you may need extra seats. This is the inflatable outdoor sofa that provides instant, comfortable seating for up to 30 guests. The sofa inflates via the included air pump in just minutes and provides a firm yet comfortable place for party goers to relax and converse during a block party, family reunion or a Gatsbyesque summer soiree.

12110_300x300As evening falls, party-goers can gather ‘round this handcrafted replica of the fire pit displayed at the Athletes’ Village during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. The distinctive globe-shaped design, with cutouts in the shapes of the continents, evokes the international spirit of the Olympics and served as a gathering place for competitors from around the world. It makes a great centerpiece for awarding medals to your block party games’ winners or for the presentation of unique gifts to the neighbors.

Banish Bugs with the Three “B”s

The summer’s storm season has renewed its annual deluge of rainfall nationwide—a unique gift of nature for most, but sometimes a harbinger of pesky mosquitoes for others.

If sharing your space or your life-giving bodily fluids with biting insects is a turn-off, there are three ways to combat these flying pests: block them, bait them, or blast them!

87255_300x300Blocking these determined blood suckers offers the most gentle approach, so we offer these unique gifts for those who feel that insects need to eat, too. One can seek refuge within The Mosquito Thwarting Hammock, an enclosure that fits over an integrated hammock and allows cross breezes to keep you cool while mosquitoes are losing theirs, unable to access your person. For the active gardener or mosquito-season outdoors adventurer, we offer mosquito thwarting apparel made from 1.2-mm netting that blocks pests without the need for harmful chemicals.

81846_300x300Those who prefer a more passive-aggressive approach may consider The One Acre Natural Attractant Mosquito Trap, which lures mosquitoes within one-acre by emitting heat, odorless carbon dioxide (the same gas people expel during respiration) and light. When mosquitoes are drawn inside, they die of dehydration.

87134_300x300When one will not countenance the wearing of nets nor suffer the fixture of a trap in the yard, we offer perhaps the most unique gift for the would-be mosquito slayer: The Bug Blasting Blunderbuss. It requires a steady aim (as well as the unshakable trust of one onto whom an insect has alighted), but if delivered within two feet, the salty discharge from this skeeter scattergun will obliterate even those species rumored to stand flat-footed at 3′-tall.

Blocking, bait, or blasting — these three methods and the products that provide them will at least create the perception that you have taken the annual mosquito abatement chore seriously.

Let’s Go Al Fresco

This Thursday, June 18, the world celebrates International Picnic Day.

In Medieval times, outdoor feasts were held to celebrate a successful hunt, but the picnic as we know it is believed to have begun in France in 1789 after the French Revolution opened the royal gardens to the public for the first time. The pastime grew in popularity during the Victorian Era in England.

What better way to celebrate this centuries-old tradition than by planning some summer picnics of your own? We have suggestions for accessories that would make great additions to your own picnic or as unique gifts for friends and family for al fresco dining.

84580_300x300This is the picnic caddy so thorough in its devotion to an elegant picnic that even the Royal family owns a pair. Whether preparing an outdoor feast during one’s annual foray to Balmoral Castle, or simply planning a gourmet meal to enjoy the unique gifts of a concert in the park, this caddy’s three cylindrical modules provide easy transport and secure housing for four included place settings, and the food for a perfect repast.

11679_300x300Don’t let too much sun spoil the day. This portable canopy clamps to any rectangular wooden table and provides up to 75′ sq. of shade. Made from a durable polyester fabric, the canopy filters the sun’s UV rays and provides reliable shelter from rain. The entire unit folds to fit into the included duffel bag.

12617_300x300Imagine what your friends will say when you pull up to the picnic on this rideable, three-wheeled cooler! A 1,000-watt electric motor propels the cooler up to 12 mph, allowing you to transport chilled food or beverages up to 10 miles. The handlebars have a throttle and a brake lever for confident stops, starts, and acceleration, while the pneumatic tires provide traction on gravel or pavement.

The summer season will be over before you know it, so start planning a unique gift for your family, a day of picnic-style dining in the great outdoors.

Dad’s Day Gift Ideas for the Frugal Offspring

Father’s Day is almost here…we honor the old man on June 21. If you find yourself short on money this year, we are here to help with ideas for unique gifts for him, all priced at $100 or less.

At only about $100, we guarantee there’s not another gift out there exactly like this one: this is the personalized reproduction of 12324_300x300The New York Times issue from the day dad was born. The newspaper is reprinted, complete with that day’s headlines, stories, photos and ads, in a traditionally bound book that displays the recipient’s name, “The New York Times”, and the date stamped in gold on the burgundy leatherette cover.

12597A_300x300Both the NBA and the NHL are wrapping up their seasons with exciting final championship series. Any sports fanatic father would love a personalized locker room print that shows his own stall, complete with a name plate, jersey and equipment bearing his name and favorite number. His jersey will hang forever next to the uniforms of two players from the current roster, providing visual evidence of his working relationship with Lebron James or Patrick Kane. Whether dad prefers hockey, basketball, baseball, or football, this unique gift is available for only about $90.

84767_300x300This year, Father’s Day coincides with the first day of summer…the season for both golf and BBQs. If you know a dad who loves both, The Golfer’s Grill Clubs feature grilling utensils with authentic golf club grips that ensure a confident hold while flipping lamb chops or turning a swordfish steak. The tools store in a woven nylon 14″-high golf bag, allowing his caddy to carry the clubs with ease.

Finally, if you’re as short on time as you are on cash, a Hammacher Schlemmer gift certificate allows Dad to choose his own gift. Available in denominations from $25 to $200, a gift certificate is always the right size and can be redeemed online, through our catalog, or in our New York City store.

Unique Gifts are Tops for Pops

Hammacher Schlemmer has long been trusted as a source for items that simply are not available anywhere else. With Father’s Day less than two weeks away, we have some suggestions for unique gifts for Dad, exclusive items only we can bring you.

86915_300x300Does the father in your life travel for work or pleasure? This weekender bag opens from the side to provide easy access to the clothes packed inside. The side panel will let Dad quickly remove or insert several days’ worth of clothes and travel items without rummaging or disheveling neatly folded garments. Available only from Hammacher Schlemmer, this bag is made of American bison leather, valued for its long-lasting durability.

87292_300x300For the father who likes to run, walk, or work out to music, this exercise armband recharges an iPhone. A Hammacher Schlemmer exclusive, the armband has a lightweight rechargeable battery that charges an iPhone up to 80%, ensuring his device will not run out of power while exercising. Its lightweight, thin design won’t impede exercise movements, and the polyester construction protects an iPhone from incidental contact.

79466_300x300Developed by Hammacher Schlemmer, this wallet is made from genuine Australian kangaroo leather. Kangaroo hide’s tight, dense fiber structure provides four times the tensile strength and three times more abrasion resistance than cowhide or deerskin, allowing it to be rendered to 1/4″ thin for comfortable storage without compromising the leather’s strength. The wallet is naturally water-resistant and it will never fade, crack, or unravel like typical leather wallets.

Your father is one-of-a-kind and deserves a unique gift that will stand apart from the rest. For more ideas like these, our online Gift Guide will make your shopping easy.

Gardening Improves Mind, Body, and Soul

Gardening is good for you, physically and mentally. It gives you the unique gifts of burning calories along with the therapeutic benefit that comes from raising your own flowers and vegetables. Tomorrow marks National Gardening Exercise Day, so it’s a great time to indulge in this popular pastime.

Whether you’re a long-time avid gardener or a novice hoping to develop a green thumb, we have some ideas that will enhance a day with your plants. These items make ideal unique gifts for your favorite gardener, too.

12583_300x300Worn by French winemakers and gardeners for hundreds of years, these handmade, natural rubber boots are supple yet sturdy, waterproof, and comfortable when worn whether harvesting from a backyard garden or tending to the vineyards in Bordeaux. The boots have deep rubber treads, a foam-lined insole, and an adjustable buckle at the ankle, ensuring ideal traction and comfort.

87330_300x300Aiming for exercise does not preclude the gardener from sitting while he or she works. This wheeled utility cart features a cushioned swiveling seat that provides 360° of movement. A feature exclusive to Hammacher Schlemmer, the seat is padded with 1/2″ of foam that conforms to its tractor-style shape. A basket in the rear and a tray underneath provide easy access to tools, gloves, and planting supplies.

87084_300x300If you lack space for a garden or have difficulty bending down to ground level, this vertical garden displays five planters that will let you enjoy gardening. The pots detach for easy planting and hook into place at staggered heights to maximize sun exposure. The garden can easily be rolled to chase the sun over the course of the day or moved indoors during cooler months for year-round enjoyment.

Even just walking around a garden can help you exercise and it will give you a feeling of well-being, too. So get outdoors, feel the breeze, hear the birds, and let gardening bring you the unique gifts of better health and peace of mind.

For Tots Who Dream of Astronauts

A is for Astronaut. And to children, the sense of wonder and awe regarding interplanetary adventures lives on, even as the golden age of space travel as we knew it in the 1960s and ‘70s has—at least for the time being—faded like a shooting star.

Certainly, rocket scientists continue to tap into the unique gifts of the universe. NASA’s high-profile space shuttle program may have ended, but the Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle had a successful unmanned test launch in December, and a crewed mission could happen as early as 2021. The private sector has stepped in to contract with NASA to provide orbital transportation to the International Space Station, as have space programs of other countries.

The next generation of astronauts, those who will likely be the travelers to Mars, are children today. They continue to nurture our dreams of celestial exploration. For them, we have some fun, unique gifts to help keep that dream alive.

86424_300x300This pop-up tent serves as the interplanetary command post for young space explorers. The tent’s four tunnels evoke the sprawling modules of a space station. Painted viewports and control interfaces, and screened tunnel ceilings and a screened section of the dome encourage imaginative play during celestial observations.

86802_300x300This remote-controlled astronaut is seemingly out for a spacewalk around the International Space Station, but instead is propelled by twin rotors for safe indoor flight. A pair of diode lights in the rocket backpack give the illusion this spaceman is controlling his weightless wandering himself, ideal for a moment of astral wanderlust.

75869_300x300At the end of a day of interplanetary play, create a tranquil sleeping environment for children with this plush turtle that projects eight constellations onto a ceiling. Its illuminated plastic shell has apertures which allow light to pass through when the blue, green, or amber backlight is turned on, creating a starry display that encourages sleep…and dreams of astronauts.