Sunday, October 18, 2015

We used to make things in this country. #215: Wear-Ever cookware


I've got several heavy aluminum pots and mixing bowls that I use in my shop for various tasks.  Cleaning one the other day, I noticed the stamp above on the back of the pots.

First produced in 1825, aluminum was prohibitively expensive to produce and was therefore classed as a semi-precious metal.  On February 23, 1886, while working in a woodshed in his kitchen in Oberlin, Ohio, Charles Hall discovered an inexpensive method of smelting aluminum out of bauxite and founded the Pittsburgh Reduction Company in 1888, which became the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) in 1907. As a way to increase the market for this new material, Wear-Ever cookware was launched in 1903, initially sold door-to-door by college students. In 1912, the U.S. Marine Corps officially adopted the brand as their standard issue.  In 1909, Admiral Robert Perry took examples of the brand to the North Pole.  (As seen on the 1919 ad below, the name "Wear-Ever" became an awkwardly worded slogan  "Replace utensils that wear out with utensils that Wear-Ever!")  

1919

Life, November 1940

Life, April 1947
In the parent U.S. version, the trademark had "Tacu Co" vertically in the centre. These were the initials of The Aluminum Cooking Utensil Company of New Kensington, Pennsylvania.

In Canada, the products were stamped "A.G. Ltd."  I have been unsuccessful in discovering the actual name of this company.  However, the Wear-Ever products in Canada were made by the Northern Aluminum Company, founded in Shawinigan, Quebec in 1902.  (In 1925, it became the Aluminum Company of Canada, better known as Alcan). In 1913, the company opened a kitchen utensil plant and foundry in Toronto, and a rolling mill a few years later.

Since 2006, Wear-Ever has been a division of Groupe SEB which claims that "Every second, 6 products from Groupe SEB are sold somewhere in the world."

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