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The cycle of Revere Ware

My mother-in-law passed away a couple of weeks ago; she was a wonderful lady and will be sorely missed.

As we were going through her things with the family, there were some interesting insights into Revere Ware cookware.

My wife’s parents were married in 1953, about in the middle of the period (1939-1968) where Revere Ware cookware was the preeminent cookware of the day.

Here she is opening a wedding present – a Revere Ware skillet.

I believe that Revere Ware was quite a popular wedding gift back then, as we have heard lots of stories from our customers about still using the same Revere Ware they got as a wedding gift.

Here is her cookware now with all new Bakelite parts from us of course.

As it is, I believe these are the same pieces they had all through all these 65 or so years.  However, what is conspicuously missing are any skillets.

As it turns out, we found a stack of non-stick skillets under the stove.  Teflon was approved for use in cooking in 196 and I believe became quite popular starting in the late 1960’s and 1970’s.   I suspect some time during this period my mother-in-law (who did all the cooking as was typical for that generation) got rid of the Revere Ware skillets and replaced them with Teflon ones.

I think this is the point at which a lot of The Revere Ware we see for sale on eBay and in thrift stores comes on the market, at the death of the original generation that bought it.

Let’s consider the demographics of the generations that might have purchased Revere Ware in its heyday.

The best quality Revere Ware was made between 1939 and 1968.  Starting in 1968, Revere Ware cookware started being produced in Korea (and then China) and was made much more cheaply, with about half the metal as the prior version.  That is the period when other types of cookware started eating into the market share of Revere Ware.

The average age of (first) marriage for women was 21.5 in 1940, and about 20.8 in 1968.

The average lifespan of a woman born in 1930 (which would make them or marriageable age in the early 1940’s) was 61.6.  For someone born in 1950 (marriageable in the late 1960’s) it was 71.1.

That means that people would would have gotten their first Revere Ware cookware at the start of Revere Ware popularity would have started passing away in the mid-1990’s.  Someone who got their first Revere Ware towards the end of the popular period would on average pass away around 2010.  This can very nicely explain why we have seen in terms of the total number of Revere Ware listings on eBay over the last 9 years.  Here is a graph from 2009 to today.

While we do see “seasonal” dips over the last few years” it appears that up until a few years ago, the amount of pieces listed at any given time (which peaks around the holidays, just as our sales do) kept going up.  It would seem that now, we are past the peak of the passing of the Revere Ware generations.

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Tweener

Here is an interesting piece currently for sale on eBay, a 10 quart stock pot.

First of all, what a great starting price for a new in box (NIB) item, only $35.  If you are looking for a nice Revere Ware stock pot, I’d jump on this.

What makes this interesting is the confluence of styles.  On the one hand, it has the vintage handles.

On the other hand, it does not have the process patent stamp, which I’ve always seen on this style stock pot (with those handles).

I also don’t believe I’ve ever seen a 10 quart stock pot with those style handles.

My guess is that this is something that was produced around 1968, just when Revere Ware was transitioning from the vintage era to the newer (cheaper) era of cookware.

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When in Rome

If you happen to find yourself in Rome, New York, where a Revere Ware plant existed for many years, be sure and visit the Rome Historical Society as they have some interesting history related to Revere Ware, including their latest additions:

I am salivating a bit at getting some pictures of the “rare and unique Revere Ware” pieces.  If you visit, please send me some.

 

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Orange Bakelite

I still don’t understand the reasons Revere Ware made some colored Bakelite parts, but we do come across them from time to time.  Occasionally, they sell for ridiculous amounts on eBay.

Lynda sent us these pictures of her sauce pan with orange Bakelite parts.

So far, we’ve seen yellow, white, blue, and orange colored Bakelite.  And of course, black. 🙂

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World Kitchen is now Corelle Brands … possibly dumping the Revere product line

If you haven’t heard of World Kitchen, LLC, it is the company that has held the iconic brands like Pyrex, Corning, and, or course, Revere Ware, for decades now.  They have largely subsisted by offering cheaper, in quality if not price, cookware under those and other brands, living off the decades of previous brand equity.

Last year, they were acquired by a private equity group, Cornell Capital.  Now, the company is changing its name to Corelle Brands.  Corelle is a dishware brand first introduced by Corning in the 1970’s.

We heard a rumor, which we are still trying to confirm, that the company may be looking to discontinue the Revere brand.  They do seem to be removing it from the official short list of their brands.  Here is a snippet from their corporate information page on the products site:

Headquartered in Rosemont, IL, Corelle Brands and its affiliates manufacture and market glass, glass ceramic and metal cookware, bakeware, tabletop products and cutlery sold under well-known brands including CorningWare, Pyrex, Corelle, Chicago Cutlery, Snapware and OLFA.

No mention of Revere, but further down on the page, it is still part of their “family”:

However, on the Revere product home page, it is not included in the family, replaced by Corelle, their new namesake.

It gets worse.  on their corporate site, again no mention of the Revere brand as part of their portfolio.

Perhaps this is just an artifact of an ineffective PR team, of which there are other indications.  Take a look at the corporate news:

Does this one strike anyone as ill advised?

When clicking on it:

Whoops.

While you can still find new copper bottom Revere Ware cookware through some channels, it s getting harder and harder to find.  Corelle seems to have bet the brand on the new Copper Confidence Core product they introduced almost two years ago.  Perhaps sales are not going well.

 

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Good and Bad Revere Ware

Customer Chris emailed us recently with a question about the bottom of his Revere Ware pan

I just bought a few Revere skillets from a garage sale and the big one has a black coating on the bottom of the pan that is  peeling off. Should I try and get all of the black coating off or is there a way to keep it from peeling? What should I do? Thank you for your help!

Here is what the bottom looks like:

That definitely appears to be a newer style pan (post 1968, and from what I see happening to the bottom, probably much newer).  It appears to me that there is a layer of burnt carbon over the copper on the bottom.  The copper layer appears to be peeling off of the stainless core of the pan.
It used to be that Revere Ware made pans that had about equal amounts of copper and stainless on the bottom, and the pan was rather thick.  Post 1968, to save money,
they made the layers of both small.
Since that time, the quality has gotten really bad.  Some of the years they appear to have made the copper layer so thin that it just exists to make the pan look like the old style, but the copper layer wasn’t thick enough to actually do anything (like spread the heat).  This appears to be one of those pans.  It is not uncommon for the copper layer to peel off for pans made like that, meaning, we’ve heard lots of stories of this happening.
The post-1968 Revere Ware is pretty hit and miss.  Some of it, while not as good as spreading the heat as the older vintage variety, still works fine as a stainless steel pan, and may never have problems like those above.  But, if you are looking to replace a piece, or start a collection, you are much better off searching for the vintage era cookware that has the process patent stamp on the bottom, like this:
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Vintage cast iron pans

As far as I’ve always been concerned, cast iron is all about the seasoning.  You can take just about any cheap abused cast iron pan, clean and season it well, and it will perform like a champ.

In fact, that is exactly what we’ve done personally, purchase some basic cast iron pans at thrift stores, and clean and season them.

But, I am also a huge fan of history.  So while I don’t think a vintage cast iron pan would necessarily perform better (feel free to make an argument against this presumption), The idea  of owning an using a cast iron pan that has been around for 100 years, is interesting.

Along those lines, here is a video on how to identify vintage cast iron cookware.

Now, the video raises an interesting point about older models having a smooth finish, vs newer models having a rougher finish, which made me wonder, which is better.

Here is an article which discusses the difference, although has a much more complex explanation of why newer pans are rough and older ones are smooth.

The entire concept of seasoning cast iron, which acts as a leveling agent so the proteins won’t adhere to the pan, was a result of home cooks trying to fill in this new, rougher surface. The roughness that you feel on much modern cast iron is sand, which used to be removed during the cast iron production process. However, that step has since been removed by many modern manufacturers. “A lot of cast iron today is produced in 90 minutes,” says Powell. “But at the turn of the 20th century, cast iron would sit in molds for upwards of 48 hours before then being tumbled for 24 hours before it then received its final packaging.” As a result of this, vintage cast iron was incredibly smooth.

Ah, so it turns out that not all cast iron pans are equal, and older ones with a smooth finish are much easier to maintain, don’t require the same level of seasoning, and generally work better.

I’m off to the thrift store to try and find a vintage cast iron pan.

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Revere Ware Tri-Ply cookware

Revere Ware is most well known for its copper bottom cookware.  An often overlooked variety is the aluminum core Tri-Ply cookware, which has an aluminum disk on the bottom of the piece sandwiched between an inner and outer stainless steel shell.  An aluminum core is what most high-end cookware uses today to spread the heat out evenly.

The bottoms of these Tri-Ply pieces can be identified by the protruding disc on the bottom.

Here what our photo guide has to say about Tri-Ply cookware:

Kitchen technology changed in the mid 1980’s with the introduction of the smooth glass/ceramic cooktop surfaces. These surfaces used embedded thermostats requiring cookware with thick, cast metal bottoms (as opposed to the pressed steel or electroplated bottoms used by Revere Ware). In March of 1986, Revere responded with the Aluminum Disc Bottom Cookware, sometimes called “tri-ply” or “slab bottom” (identified internally as the 2000 line). It continued the classic Revere Ware styling of the earlier 1400 and 7000 lines, but used a stainless steel coated aluminum disc brazed to the bottom of each piece allowing for use on smooth cooktops (and giving it the heat dispersion capability needed for use on conventional cooktops. Initially, the discs were brazed and buffed in Korea, and the final product assembled at Clinton. Later the entire production process was moved to Clinton. The line was an immediate success, amounting to 20% Revere’s total cookware sales in 1986.

The aluminum disk is actually quite think and pretty effective at spreading the heat.

Because of the construction, these pieces are suitable for glass top stoves, as they are much more likely than the copper bottom variety to remain flat.

There is some danger though.  If overheated to the extreme, they can disintegrate, although that is extremely rare.

There were other versions of Revere Ware deemed Tri-Ply as well, that contained a carbon steel core between two stainless steel layers.  They were made to look like the tradition Revere Ware pans, sans the copper bottom.  I much prefer the aluminum disk variety over these, as I think they are better at spreading the heat.  The carbon steel core variety will not have the round disc on the bottom.

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Tweener sauce pan

Customer Phil sent us photos of his unique Revere Ware sauce pan, the second one of this type he has seen.  It has the process patent stamp on the bottom but has the handle of the post-1968 type cookware.

From my experience owning some 100 different Revere Ware pieces, and looking through  thousands more on eBay and in thrift stores, I’ve never seen one of this type, so they must be pretty rare and unique.

My only guess is that perhaps this was an intermediate prototype that was developed internally to Revere Ware during the period of the transition, and taken home by an employee.

Anyone else have any unique pieces they want to share with the Revere Ware community?  Please contact us and send us some pictures.

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Why Revere Ware

While the source of this “product review” looks like one of the spam sites that exists just to get better search engine results by copying and publishing other’s content, the content is mostly on point and I have yet to find another version of this that might be the original.

Revere Ware cookware is legendary for its design and functionality. It features unique copper bottoms on well-constructed stainless steel pots and pans. You may remember these pots and pans from your grandmother’s kitchen, but the Revere company has a much longer history. It was actually founded by Paul Revere himself. In 1801 he founded Revere Copper Company which provided copper parts for military ships, and it later transformed into a cookware company. In 1939 the famous copper-bottomed Revere Ware kitchenware was introduced. It was revolutionary at the time not only for having heat-diffusing copper on the bottom, but for the edges being rounded to make them easier to clean. Additionally, Revere Ware cookware was lighter and easier to handle in the kitchen than most pots and pans of that era. Its handles’ unique design was modeled after the handles of a silversmith’s hammer, a design that proved so popular that it has been copied by many other companies since. Today the Revere line of products upholds its famous legacy through quality construction, classic design and exquisite performance. It continues to make up 25% of the cookware market.

Revere Ware cookware’s hallmark copper bottoms are not simply an aesthetic choice. Copper is a metal that has superior heat conduction characteristics. It spreads heat from the burners of your stove quickly and evenly to the food in your pot or pan, reducing uneven cooking and scorching. It also cools more quickly than other metals to ensure your food is cooked only as long as you intended. In this way, the cook is given more control over heat than with pots and pans of other materials. This is why copper or copper-bottomed cookware has long been the preferred equipment for French cooking, which relies upon delicate sauces that cannot tolerate overcooking or undercooking. Copper has the added benefit of being lighter than many other metals, making it easier to manage in the kitchen.

Competitively priced, Revere Ware kitchenware is often chosen as a less expensive but equally high quality alternative to All Clad. It is durable and long lasting. Many a grandmother is still cooking on the Revere Ware kitchenware she received for her wedding, and it is not uncommon to find a kitchen containing Revere Ware that has been passed on for generations within the family. Because Revere products rarely warp, are resistant to breaking and cracking, and are easy to clean, they tend to stay in fantastic condition for many years.

I agree with everything above except the text in red.  I’m almost certain Revere Ware cookware does not make up 25% of the cookware market today, although this might have been true when this entry in the International Directory of Company Histories was published in 1998, which is perhaps where the author got that fact, now far out of date.

The Revere Ware copper bottom cookware on the market today is no where near the same quality as was made back in the day, pre-1968.  We have heard lots of stories of poor construction, such as copper bottoms that fall or or simply wear off from scrubbing after a few years.

As for the rest, it is a pretty good description of why perhaps hundreds of thousands or millions of people continue to use their vintage Revere Ware to this day; great design, quality construction, iconic appearance, and longevity.

 

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