Each year, there are roughly a gazillion new products launched and new companies founded. Think about that, and then think about how seldom you look at one of those products or companies and think, “That’s totally new,” or “This finally solves an old problem,” or “That does its thing better than all the other things that do that thing.” We’re guessing those thoughts cross your mind far, far less than a gazillion times.
And that’s why we’re honoring the products and companies that pleasantly surprised us over the course of the past year. Thirty-six products and companies across 11 categories. From the electronic future of comic books to a kitchen creating the future of food. From stackable wine that travels easily to stackable bar soap that prevents the annoying last sliver from going to waste. From invisible “microcapsules” that help you smell better to a rock album that comes only on paper. It’s the stuff that reminds us that we never stop evolving.
EATING & DRINKING
Eating and drinking are basic human needs — which makes it all the more remarkable when someone improves upon the way we stuff our pieholes.
An all-electric car fit for a superspy, the return of a supercar icon, and a big diesel-powered sedan that gets super gas mileage.
An ultra-rugged phone that holds its charge for 15 years, a feather-light tent, and serious hiking boots that feel like sneakers.
GADGETS & TOYS
Indulge your inner kid — and your actual kid — with powerful cameras, shape-shifting computers, and an amazing 3D printer for your very own home.
The movies, video games, books, and music that were more creative than their competitors last year. Warning: Envelopes have been pushed!
Make your hair smell better, feel cleaner, look fuller, and rain far fewer dandruff flakes all over your horrified dinner companions.
Stop getting lost, learn how to do just about anything, and delight your friends with videos of your loved ones being blown to smithereens.
SHAVING & SKIN CARE
Shave better, pack for trips easier, and avoid that last little sliver of bar soap that you can neither use nor bring yourself to throw out.
Running shoes that feel like socks, underwear that feels like it’s not there, and a watch that stands in for your smartphone.
DEODORANTS & COLOGNES
Techy “microcapsules” and an unusual approach to traditionally masculine colognes make for some new ways for you to smell far less horrible.
Thanks to some ingenious online retailers, it’s getting easier and easier to look great without ever leaving your own home.