Pyrex is durable and affordable glassware most frequently used for baking. Pyrex was invented in 1913, when Bessie Littlejohn, the wife of the vice president of Corning Glass Works, asked her husband to bring home something from the factory that could be used as a piece of oven-safe cookware. Inspired by her suggestion, the company's scientists began developing a new line of cookware. Two years later, Corning Glass Works released a complete line of glass baking dishes. Pyrex products are still sold today in many stores.
In the early 1900s, Corning Glass Works began manufacturing a line of weather-proof glass that could be used in railroad lanterns. This glass was heat resistant and largely shatterproof. In 1913, the wife of one of the company's executives suggested using the same technology to produce a line of shatterproof glass baking dishes, after she was disappointed when a baking dish she had purchased broke after only two uses. Two years later, the Corning Glass Company delivered the first shipment of Pyrex bakeware to Boston's Jordan Marsh department store on May 18, 1915.
Advertising and Promotion
Sarah Tyson Rover, the editor of Ladies Home Journal and columnist for Good Housekeeping, signed on to help promote Pyrex in 1915. Though initially skeptical of the product, Rover eventually began promoting Pyrex at retail store demonstrations across the United States. Because many people did not believe you could bake in glass, these demonstrations, along with advertising, were an important way of convincing shoppers of the benefits of Pyrex.
Pyrex quickly began an extremely common product in American kitchens. Just four years after it was introduced, more than 4.5 million pieces of Pyrex had been sold. In 1927, that number reached 30 million. The durability of Pyrex made it especially popular during the Depression, as did the fact that the Corning Glass Company claimed that using it saved both energy and time. Today, it is estimated that almost three quarters of U.S. homes have Pyrex products in their kitchen.
Over the years, the Corning Glass Company manufactured several different types of Pyrex in a wide variety of patterns. Three main types of Pyrex include Clear Pyrex Ovenware, the original Pyrex introduced in 1915, Pyrex Flameware, which was manufactured from 1936 to 1979, and Pyrex Colors, which was introduced in 1947. Common Pyrex patterns include Autumn Harvest (introduced in the early 1980s), Butterprint (first produced in the late 1950s) and New Dot (released in 1967). Today, many people collect Pyrex from different eras.
Since it was introduced in 1915, all Pyrex products have been manufactured in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, and the same basic process originally developed to make Pyrex is still used today. This manufacturing process involves heating the main ingredient, silica, to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Because Pyrex glass is so durable, it has also been used in a number of other applications over the years, including in the windows of the space capsules used during NASA's Gemini and Apollo missions in the 60s and 70s.
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