now we're cooking with glass
June 12, 2015 9:57 AM   Subscribe

 
squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee oh i love love love vintage pyrex.
posted by nadawi at 10:17 AM on June 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Cool post!
posted by persona au gratin at 10:27 AM on June 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I had a set of those pyrex pots in school as a cheap pick-up from a bargain bin. Useless for doing anything but boiling water. Even rice and pasta (!) stuck to them.
posted by bonehead at 10:30 AM on June 12, 2015




Still one of my favorite commercials, ever. (damn, I miss Visions)
posted by Mchelly at 10:37 AM on June 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just last week I got two free pyrex measuring cups while watching the blackhawks in a sports bar. They had a big 115 year promotion going and kept the cups filled with Miller Light for free. I had forgotten how difficult it is to drink bad beer and re-learned that free beer is not really free - you pay for it the next day. Also last week I shattered a glass bowl (not-pyrex) by taking it out the microwave after sterilizing soil in it for ten minutes and simply placing it in an aluminium sink. Pop!
posted by srboisvert at 10:44 AM on June 12, 2015


My sister has an awesome vintage Pyrex collection. I always know what to get her for holidays. I remember one episode of mad Men where all the discussion boards were ablaze about some new development in Joan's relationship with Greg, we were gushing over the Pyrex bake/serve/store casserole in the background and trying to identify the pattern. (It looked for all the word like Gold leaves or 1960 Holiday Promotional, but the casseroles in those lines seem to have been round-bottomed and used with a stand.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:51 AM on June 12, 2015


Very cool! The Pyrex clothes irons in the Collectors Weekly article look amazing.
posted by bismol at 10:51 AM on June 12, 2015


Nice post. I love Pyrex. I'm not much for brand loyalty or buying top of the line anything, but for glassware Pyrex really does feel much better than others. I used at least 6 Pyrex pieces to make cinnamon rolls this morning. I love that i can heat it, cool it, drop it (somewhat) without worrying.

I really like the Pyrex On The Home Front link. That's some neat innovation and I always like WWII era advertising. I've never seen the glass irons before. Very cool.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 10:52 AM on June 12, 2015


More pyrex love.

Although I have my (mismatched, but I don't care, because they're for using and not fussing about) Cinderella bowls and butterprint Cinderella casserole set, I love the tiny French custard cups (425 and 426) produced in clear the best, and snap them up any time I see them in thrift stores.

(People don't love clear Pyrex as much, so you can still find the very early stuff at Goodwill, etc., if you know what you're looking at. I've dated pieces to 1917-1918 at my nothing-special region of the US. I find it hardier than the decorated Pyrex, since you don't have to worry about marring the decals or coating, though I do enjoy the decorated Pyrex.)
posted by Naamah at 10:53 AM on June 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


OK, this post inspired me to take another look through the pyrexlove flickr pool. and I think I may have a winner on Joan's casserole.

Here's a screenshot of the scene, and here's a picture of a rare Gold Trillium casserole from the Flickr pool. Seems plausible to me. I can't seem to find production dates for that particular pattern, though.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:01 AM on June 12, 2015


I heart my Vision cookware and use it daily. :)
posted by tilde at 11:09 AM on June 12, 2015


One of the worst kitchen disasters I had was when I broke my hard to replace pyrex double boiler.
posted by jeather at 11:09 AM on June 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I look at my very early 212 (the loaf pan) and realize that because it's clearly not rare, rare deadstock, the first person who used this piece of glass didn't have the right to vote.
posted by Naamah at 11:14 AM on June 12, 2015 [10 favorites]


Hell, I'm going to go make a machta green tea latte in my relatively young 35 year old pyrex measuring cup right now.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:30 AM on June 12, 2015


If you're interested in learning more about Boron and it's use in glass, then you may enjoy this week's Elements podcast from the BBC. The podcast in general is surprisingly good.
posted by shelleycat at 11:31 AM on June 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can somebody explain the chemistry of why the addition of boron atoms makes the glass resistant to thermal stress? The links I'm finding mostly say stuff like, "boron atoms neutralize vibrations of atoms," which is a description of what happens, but not why it happens. Like, what is it about boron?
posted by tickingclock at 11:33 AM on June 12, 2015


For more in depth discussion of why different elements change the physical properties of glass I'll instead point you to the excellent Science of Glass episode of the In Our Time podcast. I listened to both of these this week by luck, so this post is timely for me.
posted by shelleycat at 11:37 AM on June 12, 2015


Unfortunately Pyrex may no longer be Pyrex...
posted by jim in austin at 11:40 AM on June 12, 2015


My kitchen contains some Pyrex cookware from my parents' kitchen that I recall seeing my mother use in the 1960s. Of course, she was very careful in using it because "it may be special glass but it's still glass" and I've followed in her practice toward those pieces since inheriting the kitchenware. Also a set of fancy brass jello/jelly molds that were hung on the wall as decoration and never used.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:56 AM on June 12, 2015


One of the worst kitchen disasters I had was when I broke my hard to replace pyrex double boiler.

I feel you; I buy these whenever I see them, and at peak double boiler had nine sets, now down to four and a half.

My faves are the ones with handles that have straps that buckle onto the vessels; I can't decide whether I prefer the clear glass varieties or the blue.

I also find the Visions stuff very appealing and have many pieces -- but none of the lids really fit! -- they clatter from side to side in a way that drives me crazy.

Plus, they deliberately designed the lids with little bumps on the undersides of the rims that prevent the lid from covering the pots tightly enough to hold in the steam!

Fortunately, if you have a bunch of old Cuisinarts (that was the original spelling) lids, the kind that have spot welds for the handles rather than rivets, there turns out to be one size or another that fits almost every stovetop Visions piece I own very nicely, but those do mar the aesthetics.
posted by jamjam at 11:57 AM on June 12, 2015


i still have my mom's loaf pan and my gramma's mixing bowls but i never use them because 01) ugh, cooking and 02) they're so HEAVY i just got home from the gym and i am DONE LIFTING for the day.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:03 PM on June 12, 2015


they deliberately designed the lids with little bumps on the undersides of the rims that prevent the lid from covering the pots tightly enough to hold in the steam

I would think that a silicone lid between the pot bottom and pot top might allow you to retain steam properly but I expect it may also go boom in an unpleasant way or two.
posted by tilde at 12:04 PM on June 12, 2015


This is amazing, and for me: a good excuse to go to the US and search out original stuff. I'm aware I should do this tomorrow, since now it's out.
posted by mumimor at 12:17 PM on June 12, 2015


I have a vintage set of the mixing bowls, and a while ago while I was washing it I felt it slipping out of my hand and I had time to think, "Great, I'm about to break one of my favorite kitchen things and an heirloom from my grandma..."

And then it crashed into the sink and knocked out a big chunk of enamel, and I realized I could have replaced the bowl for much less than the sink was going to cost, haha.
posted by Huck500 at 12:27 PM on June 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


I love the circular bread slices from my Grandma's Bake-A-Round!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:43 PM on June 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pyrex? You mean the glass bombs that explode when you take them from the oven and put them in the sink?
posted by blue_beetle at 1:58 PM on June 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


My 3d printer uses borosilicate glass as the print surface.
posted by hellphish at 2:17 PM on June 12, 2015


they deliberately designed the lids with little bumps on the undersides of the rims that prevent the lid from covering the pots tightly enough to hold in the steam

I expect the real issue was a low-pressure vapour seal as hot pots cooled off. A wet rim would probably seal unbreakably.
posted by GuyZero at 2:39 PM on June 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


What is the deal with the cookware market? Between soda-lime Pyrex and unpolished cast iron cookware, it's the only field I can think of right now where the products get crappier with time. Can you imagine having to visit electronics recyclers to dig up an old smart phone because it's faster and more energy efficient than the newest generation?
posted by indubitable at 3:13 PM on June 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


cookware used to be a buy it for life or longer item - you'd get a set for your wedding and cook with it every day until the day you died, supplementing here or there with a new item every decade or so. they were priced like it too. now people are much more likely to buy a cheap pan, use it until it wears out, and then buy another one. you can still get buy it for life quality cookware, but most people don't.

you also see this in counter top appliances - cheaper innards, new plastic, flashy colors - they're meant to be repurchased. they have all the newest gizmos and none of the lasting power of the appliances of old.
posted by nadawi at 3:37 PM on June 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


and i'm not advocating one above another - i have a sizable classic pyrex collection and a sizable target melamine dishes collection. one will outlast me and one gets cycled out as they wear out.
posted by nadawi at 3:38 PM on June 12, 2015


My pyrex can't even tweet. I need newer, web-enabled glassware.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:39 PM on June 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


When I was growing up we had this beautiful blue and white Corningware square casserole with a glass lid. Mom used it for practically every meal. All our birthday cakes were baked in it; it was the nicest dish we had - solid as a rock, never so much as a chip.

A couple of years ago I asked her where she had gotten it, thinking it must have been a wedding present or something. She said, "Oh, the dog brought that home one day."
I said, "What about the lid?"
She replied, "Oh, he brought that home a few days later."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:37 PM on June 12, 2015 [11 favorites]


Never bother getting good non-stick pans. They burn out too fast to be worth spending on.
posted by Ferreous at 7:26 PM on June 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


cookware used to be a buy it for life or longer item - you'd get a set for your wedding and cook with it every day until the day you died, supplementing here or there with a new item every decade or so. they were priced like it too. now people are much more likely to buy a cheap pan, use it until it wears out, and then buy another one. you can still get buy it for life quality cookware, but most people don't.

you also see this in counter top appliances - cheaper innards, new plastic, flashy colors - they're meant to be repurchased. they have all the newest gizmos and none of the lasting power of the appliances of old.


This - I recently inherited my grandparents' home - with all it's fully functioning 50 year old cookware and appliances. The only things which needed replacement were the none-stick pans. And then I bought a new stand mixer because some of the parts were missing for the old one, and I couldn't find replacements.
posted by mumimor at 12:48 AM on June 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


cookware used to be a buy it for life or longer item - you'd get a set for your wedding and cook with it every day until the day you died, supplementing here or there with a new item every decade or so. they were priced like it too.

My parents cooked every meal from before I was born until a few years after I moved out on the same set of crappy, dented, and scorched cookware, some of it wedding presents and other pieces from garage sales. It wasn't so much that it was great quality (it wasn't, at all), but regular (not non-stick) cookware will usually last well past the point where it looks terrible if you aren't concerned about the status implications of having old, beat-up items in your kitchen. It's so much cheaper now to buy new that I am sure they would have replaced things more often, but it didn't used to be that cheap, even at the low end of the market.

I have a few mismatched pyrex and off-brand glasswares, like mixing bowls and pie dishes. I've never had one explode but over the years I have dropped a few and had some crack from adding boiling water or in the oven (mild thermal shocks that would not have broken the better quality old pyrex). Watching the videos of the exploding glass makes me want to replace my glassware with older (or European) items, as a small safety measure.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:41 AM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mom cooked on Great-Grandma's cast-iron skillet until quite recently.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:17 AM on June 15, 2015


Re: cookware

My mother still uses things she got in the 60s and 70s, but the stuff I bought to set up my household in my early 20s (so, 1992 or so) is drastically, amazingly better. Things stick less. They're easier to clean. They conduct heat far better.

Now part of this is that I bought (discounted) Revereware's "ProLine" stuff, which was their attempt at modern, higher-end cookware to compete with the likes of All-Clad. Trouble was, nobody wanted to pay All-Clad prices for stuff that didn't say "All-Clad" on it, and so I got the lot on sale.

I have a couple AC pieces now. They're a LITTLE bit better than the Proline, but it's a tiny gap.
posted by uberchet at 10:03 AM on June 19, 2015


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