This post serves to show that if you look, you may eventually find the replacement part you need.
Well, here we are in the 5th month of the pandemic. Since April, we’ve seen a boost to sales as people spend more time (a lot more time) at home cooking, and are likely wanting their cookware to be in tip top shape.
May was our best month ever, in 11 years, and was 2 1/2 times our normal May volume.
June slowed down somewhat, but was still 1 1/2 times our normal June.
But July picked up significantly again and was about equal to our busiest month of the year, January, and was almost double our typical July.
The sad news is, the trend in July is probably happening because the coronavirus is again running rampant, worse than it ever has, and people are once again hunkering down and spending less time going out, and more time cooking in.
In this sense I guess we are just one more dashboard into how the country is feeling about the coronavirus.
Reader Eileen contacted us this week with an inquiry about her Bakelite handles emitting a foul odor:
I use my Revere pots and pans daily. Today, while making my younger children mac n’ cheese, the handle to the pot started to melt. The chemical smell caused us to evacuate the house for several hours.
This presents a good opportunity to talk about safely using cookware with Bakelite handles.
The biggest danger to Bakelite handles is a gas stove. If a small pan is put on a large burner such that the flames, or the heat licks up the sides, it will cause the Bakelite to fail and emit this foul odor. Bakelite is a phenolic plastic; it doesn’t melt when overheated, it breaks down into its constituent parts, one of which is formaldehyde, which is the foul odor Eileen smelled. Despite the potential risk for this type of failure, we hear very few reports of this type of problem.
However, one issue is that, as Bakelite becomes older and damaged, it will fail through overheating much easier. Repeated washes in a dishwasher can cause damage that will make Bakelite much more susceptible to overheating. We did a dishwasher test and have shown that it doesn’t take a lot of repeating washings in the dishwasher for the handles to show visible discoloration, a prelude to the type of damage that can make them more sensitive to overheating.
The other risk to Bakelite is using pieces with Bakelite in an oven. You might think a Dutch oven was intended for the oven, and when Revere Ware first started selling their iconic cookware they did offer it as oven safe. But some time later they reversed their position and no-longer suggested it was such.
Bakelite is safe up to 35o degrees F, for a limited time. But modern ovens can often have hotter spots within them, especially when they are heating up. We don’t offer our parts as oven or dishwasher safe.
So our three safety tips for the day for cookware with Bakelite handles are:
- Never use them in an oven
- Wash them by hand, not in a dishwasher
- Take care when using them with a gas stove, not to turn the gas up too high
Some people like the look of glass top stoves. Personally, my wife and I prefer gas cooking as it we find it much more responsive than anything electric. But what if you do have a glass top stove? Can you continue to use your Revere Ware cookware? Reader Mellanie asks:
I received my set of Revere ware in 1967 as a wedding gift from my parents. The pans are in great shape, as is my marriage, and I still use them every day! My problem is that we bought a new stove this year with a glass cooktop and the pans are “rounded” on the bottom now and don’t sit flat on the stove top. Any suggestions for me in cooking with them now. They still work, but it takes longer to cook things. It doesn’t seem to matter much how heavy the contents being prepared is while cooking.
Sadly, you likely can’t (or shouldn’t) use your Revere Ware copper bottom cookware with glass top stoves. For starters, flat surfaces like glass stoves are less than ideal with warped cookware. In addition to the lower heat transmission, they can often warble on the stove by themselves, which I personally find really annoying.
But the best argument against using Revere Ware is that copper can stain a glass stove top. According to GE Appliances:
Copper Bottom pans are also good, but they can leave residues on the cooktop that appear as scratches. These can be removed if cleaned immediately, but do not let a copper-bottom pan boil dry. An overheated copper pot will leave a residue that will permanently stain the cooktop.
Who among us has not accidentally left a pot to boil dry, so this poses a real risk.
Sadly, it is probably best not to use Revere Ware on glass top stoves.
While customers have reported that our cap made for the 2 1/3 quart kettles will work on the 3 quart model, our trigger clearly doesn’t. And while you can get a trigger 3D printed now in a suitable material, an original is much preferable.
Having turned 10 years old as a resource and provider of replacement parts this year, it is apt that we engage in a little self-reflection on what we’ve accomplished. Here’s a little tidbit that we discovered recently. Search Google for “Revere Ware” and select images.
Of the roughly 300 images returned, 39 of them, or about 13% are from our site or our revereware.org site. I suppose then by at least that measure, we are the Internet’s leading authority on Revere Ware.
We spent some time this weekend updating the RevereWare.org eBay helper site. If you aren’t familiar with this site, it finds all the Revere Ware related listings on eBay and separates them into different categories and sizes.
Algorithm updates include:
- Better categorization; many things that were in the wrong category are now properly sorted
- Categories that have listings that offer multiple sizes, like lids, are now categorized as such and appear at the bottom of the list.
- Better job finding the correct size for items.
- Added size sorting to more categories
It’s an ongoing challenge to keep the listings organized, as sellers don’t use the same standards for listing titles, but we do our best.
Reader Sarah turned us on to her creative solution to a broken 3 quart kettle trigger:
I think this kind of thing is how the term LoL came to be. 🙂
Our website provides a wealth of information for Revere Ware enthusiasts, and we also sell our parts through it. But operating a small-business eCommerce site continues to be more and more challenging.
For starters, it costs the customer more because of shipping. With many retailers offering free shipping these days (most notably Amazon.com) customers sometimes are outraged that we charge around $4.50 per order to ship, which can look pretty unreasonable if you order a part that costs $4.00. But the economics are such that, if we charge $4.50 for shipping (the bulk of which goes to the USPS and a little goes against our fulfillment service) we actually lose money on shipping; on average, it costs us $6-$7 to fulfill an order.
When we first started out, and most of our sales were through our website, it was less, and the shipping charges roughly offset the fulfillment cost. But as more of our sales moved to Amazon.com, and our volume through our website dropped, the fixed part of our fulfillment service started to drive the cost per shipment up. The fixed cost is what they charge just to have the service, hold the inventory, etc. With high volumes, this is very little per order, but as the volume drops, it starts to be a significant cost for each order.
Our sales are shifting away from our own website to Amazon.com for a couple of reasons. The first, of course is that people enjoy the convenience of buying from Amazon – the 1-click ordering (not having to enter all that information) and the free shipping are great. The second is, given the alternative, some people have a lack of trust for a website they don’t know from Adam. Lastly, we discovered last year that Amazon.com actually advertises using Google Adwords to capture the business that might actually have been destined for our website. Yes, they compete with us to drive our sales to their website, even though it is us selling in both places.
But there are a lot of good reasons for us to continue to sell through our own website. The first is insured availability. Amazon.com Marketplace is pretty one-sided against the merchant. Often times, Amazon.com will suspend one of our listings because of high return rates. This happens because, as a third party selling on Amazon.com Marketplace, we have no ability to set rules about returns; people often buy our parts, without bothering to read the description, and then return them when they don’t fit, providing some lame excuse that makes it seem like the part is defective, so they don’t have to pay a return shipping fee. This makes it looks like we have an abnormally high return rate at times, which causes Amazon.com to periodically suspend a part listing here and there.
Second, Amazon.com can for no good reason suspend a sellers account, and often does according to this article. If that were to happen to us, at this point, the economics of our business (we work hard to provide parts you can’t get anywhere else, because we care, and make a little money off of it) would be hard to justify. If we didn’t continue to sell through our own website, it would make no sense at all, and our parts would likely no longer be available.
Third, we have much less control over the content of our listings on Amazon.com, and our interactions with customers, than on our own website. The listings are not considered our own, and it often takes some finagling to change the content, because someone occasionally resells a part they purchased from us through our listing on Amazon.com. And, despite the fact that our own website has a wealth of information on dealing with issues with our parts when they occur, we can’t direct people there or risk having our seller account suspended.
There is a large movement in the US right now to buy local, in response to the difficulties that online shopping presents to local businesses. In my own town, there is an 11% vacancy rate in our main shopping district, where 10 or 20 years ago 1-2% was typical. The move to buy local is to support small local businesses that are valuable to the community in more ways than just what you buy there; they provide jobs and help support the local tax base among other things.
Similarly, in light of the increased dominance of eCommerce by just a few large platforms, perhaps there needs to be a similar movement to support small business websites like ours. I believe businesses like ours provide something valuable that just wouldn’t exist if everything was dominated by Amazon.com and the likes. Yes, it cost more to buy through our site, but it makes more sense if you purchase multiple items, and consider that when you do buy from us, you are supporting something worthwhile.
So yes, by all means, buy local, and, when you do shop online, buy from small business websites.
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.