Iron Chef, the dubbed Japanese-language cooking cable-TV show with the excitement of a pro-wrestling bout, is delving into licensing.
ET Ventures Ltd. (Bellmore, N.Y.), led by Barry Tenenbaum, is the agent for the international program with a cult following here in the U.S. The show is owned by Fuji TV (Tokyo) and can be seen domestically on Food Network.
All-U (Albany, N.Y.) is supplying caps, T-shirts, coffee mugs, mousepads, aprons and polo shirts to retail outlets like Food Network's website (www.foodtv.com). The tees, designed with the show's logo, are selling well, as are tops with the slogan Gourmet Academy Design, says All-U exec Rob White. Network Apparel (Ocean View, N.J.) also produced shirts.
Mirrotek Logical Approach (Garfield, N.J.) bowed Iron Chef ccookware gift sets, cutlery, barbecue tools, sauces, spices, and dressings at the Int'l Housewares Show last month. Mirrotek is targeting retailers "from Wal-Mart to Federated" with a multi-tiered program, says Mirrotek president Bill Porfido. All gift sets will include a key chain and a family-friendly game based on the show; some sets may include a jacket or cap.
For the serious enthusiast, ET has imported a limited edition $700 co-branded knife made by Nenohi (based outside Tokyo) and signed by Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai.
Tenenbaum, a book and music distributor, first met Sakai in January 2001 while on a buying mission in Japan. After securing an interpreter and returning to Japan three more times, he sealed the deal with Fuji TV to broker merchandising deals.
Iron Chef categories available for licensing include all food products; bobblehead-like dolls; housewares such as food storage containers and cookie jars; cookbooks; and gifts like chocolates.