Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Weighty Proposition - Vintage Corningware vs. New Pyrex

I have heard, from several people, (my mother included) that Corningware is too heavy for everyday use.  This may be true, but I think it's a relative matter.  Not to sound like a chauvinist, but I am a male and I use a lot of copper and cast iron.  So to me, Corningware seems fairly light, or at least, not any heavier than a copper pan.  Granted, it's not as light as aluminum, that's for sure.  I'll be honest though...  The idea of cooking in aluminum freaks me out.  I simply do too much acidic cooking (Tomato, Citrus, Vinegar, Wine) to be able to get away with aluminum cookware.

Non-stick coatings freak me out even more.  True, there are new ones that are "supposedly safe", but I am still not completely convinced. Part of me thinks it's just an excuse to put a "Green" label on an aluminum pan and charge more money for it.  Let's face it, the amount of cheap cookware/bakeware (made in China) on the market boggles the mind.  Most of it will have to be replaced in 2-4 years.  Such a waste of room in the landfill as well as the consumer's money.

That is why I love my Corningware; as "heavy" as some of the pieces may be.  It's non-reactive, non-porous, doesn't stain (unless mistreated), it's easy to clean (though I don't do much shallow oil frying) and acts a lot like cast iron. 

But that brings me back to my original point.  I got to wondering.  I know the 5 quart Casserole (P-84-B, A-84-B) is heavy.  It IS a 5 quart monster, after all.  But I got to pondering the baking dishes.  In particular the 9x13 (P-21) and the huge 10x15 (P-76-"B") and my French White roaster (F-21) which is not 9x13, as the number would supposedly indicate.  I believe that at some point in the late 70s the A-76 (previously P-76-"B" (the "B" was not always present) was dropped from the line and the dimensions of the A-21, which was the P-21 before 1972, were altered to be 12.25x10.5 so it now fell in between the original 2 pieces.  Handles were added as well, and the suffix of "-N" was placed on some pieces. (I saw this on the bottom of my mom's Shadow Iris piece) This may have had something to do with the switch to "metric" about that time cause the bottom of my French White (F-21) has "4.5 liter" printed on the bottom, but I am not sure.

Anywho...  Now that I have confused everyone with strange alpha-numeric codes... Here are more neuron numbing numbers... LOL

I grabbed the Pyrex... (I do not own any "Vintage" Pyrex glass baking dishes... At least I don't think so.)

Sure enough, the 7x11 piece (2 qt) weighed in at 2 lbs 4.9 oz.

While the 9x13 piece (3qt) weighed in at 3 lbs 14.2 oz (just shy of 4 lbs)

Then the 10x15 piece (4qt) came in at a whopping 4 lbs 13.7 oz.  This is the heaviest of ALL the pieces I weighed... Including the French White Roaster. (F-21)

The Corningware P-332 (7x11 "2qt") was a little on the heavier side for it's size. (I borrowed my youngest brother's because I don't have this size) At 3lbs 9.1 oz it's even heavier than the 10x15 4qt (P-76-B).

My P-21 (9x13 "3qt") Corningware dish weighed in at a only 2lbs 7.9 oz (only slightly more than the Pyrex 2qt 7x11)

Heck, my P-76-B (10x15 "4qt") weighs less than the Pyrex 10x15 AND the 9x13, coming in at a mere 3 lbs 8.8 oz

Now, my F-21-B (4.5liter) French White roaster does weigh in at a more hefty 4lbs 5.2 oz, but it still weighs less than the 10x15 4 quart Pyrex baking dish. (not by much though)

So, in essence, for the most part, the Vintage Corningware baking dishes ("P" model numbers at least) weigh less than the Pyrex bakeware that is still on the market.  P-332 is the exception to the rule, of course.  Though I, personally, don't use that size all that often, if at all.  (As is evident, since I don't actually HAVE that particular piece and had to borrow my brother's for this little exercise in weights and measures.)

Pyrex is no longer "actual" Pyrex anymore, being made of tempered soda-lime glass instead of borosilicateWorld Kitchen's excuse for the switch is that tempered soda-lime glass is lighter and more break resistant.  I am not buying it.  And the numbers don't lie.  It's actually heavier than my borosilicate vintage Corningware, for the most part.  I would be curious to find some vintage borosilicate Pyrex and see if the vintage pieces are lighter than the newer soda-lime ones.

I think it's time for me to retire all of my newer Pyrex baking dishes to the Goodwill and just stick with the vintage Corningware.

Pyrex has left the building!  (not my opal glass mixing bowls or refrigerator dishes though, I'm keepin those.... They are vintage pieces and I don't think those were ever made of borosilicate glass anyway)

Where is your Corningware??

Saturday, June 29, 2013

About Town with Corningware - Into the Unknown

I have posted pictures of every pattern that I am aware of and have seen.  This does not mean there aren't others out there traveling about the United States, Canada and Mexico.

There are 3 that I know of, that I have not seen as of yet.  "Renaissance" and "Platinum Filigree" are out there somewhere, as is the "Delicious" pattern that was printed on French White.

There is also the Classic Elegance line which includes designs like Jardin, Mille Fleur, Deco and Sticks, but I have not seen any of these and to be honest, I probably wont.  They were available for only a couple years in the 80's

There are also the round Buffet servers in White, Butterscotch, and Avocado as well as Laurel, Summerhill, and Lynnwood which matched Centura dinnerware patterns, but most of these are clearly marked as "Buffet Servers" on the bottom.  With the Centura matching pieces, only the lid had a design on it while the body of the piece was solid colored in either Green, Butterscotch, Yellow or White.

But, there are some patterns that I HAVE seen and have no idea what the pattern name is.  May these were test patterns that never made it to market, but managed to make their way into the thrift store.

Mysterious Wheat pattern that I just began collecting.  I have no idea what it's name is, nor do I know how many different pieces were made.

Strange avocado green vine pattern.....this may, or may not be the mysterious "Morning Glory" pattern (not to be confused with the Corelle pattern of the same name... which is blue)

Pink blossoms of some sort......

Then there is this one....  Though it is from the Corning Factory in the Netherlands (Pyroflam), produced for the UK market in the 70s.  I only have 2 pieces of this... a 2 1/2 quart and a 6 cup teapot. 

I have no idea what the name is, but through several searches and piecing bits of information together, it appears that this Blue Leaf design was a promo for "Blue Band" butter.  Simply save the vouchers and you could turn them in for this "Vitroceramic" Pyroflam (that is what Corningware is known as in Europe) Cookware.

Another European piece from the 70s,

marked as Pyrosil Orange or Electro depending on where is was marketed.

These pieces had lids just like the Merry Mushroom that was marketed in the United States.

Where is your Corningware??

Friday, June 28, 2013

Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Neoceram - First Neoceram Find???

It has finally happened, or at least I think it has.

As I have divulged earlier, Corningware products produced in France for other markets other than the United States were sold under the name Pyroflam or Arcoflam instead of "Corningware" or "Pyroceram".  (though in the early years, when manufactured in the Netherlands, they were marked "Pyrosil Ware" for U.K. consumers)

That being said, I think I have run across my very first piece of foreign made Corning/Pyroflam/Pyrosil Ware. 

The shape is different than what I normally see on the U.S. Market, but the shapes sold in Europe are different than what was available here as well.  It does have handles that are the same size as "P" series pieces in the United States, meaning they are narrower than the later post-1972 handles.  But I don't know if (or when)  foreign market Corningware made a "handle-size change"

It has a "flame" on the bottom which makes me believe it is older Pyroflam from the Asia-Pacific region, but there is no way for me to ultimately tell, since I cannot read the language.   Maybe this is a piece of Anchor Hocking Cookware. (yep, Anchor Hocking had a "Corningware type" product that was pulled from the U.S. market because they lost a court battle with Corning over patent infringement)

Evidently, a well traveled piece.

UPDATE:  02/16/2014 - A fellow enthusiast from a Facebook group happened across another piece of this particular cookware.  Though the design was different, it was the same shape and had the same foreign language on the bottom.   Luckily, her piece also included the name of the company in English as well.  So now I know that this is Neoceram made by Narumi.  Not Corningware at all.

Narumi is a Bone China Manufacturer in Japan that "invented" a ceramic glass product of their own in 1962.  The formulation of Neoceram is slightly different from "Corningware" and "Visions".  The differences in formulation are small but Neoceram contains Phosphorus Pentoxide and lacks the Zinc Oxide & Ferric Oxide found in Corningware.

UPDATE:  03/26/2014 - New evidence has come to light regarding the FIRE & ICE brand of ceramic glass cookware that Mikasa use to sell in the late 80s.  This product, made in Japan, may have been constructed of Narumi's Neoceram formula...  Narumi had been producing some of Mikasa's china already, as evident in their Bolero pattern.......

UPDATE: 9/24/2014
Another piece of Narumi Neoceram.

Same shape (though slightly deeper) as the Vegetable pattern above, however this piece has absolutely nothing printed on it.

The patter looks like an extreme close up watercolor interpretation of Corning Ware's Wildflower pattern.

Interesting.  But what makes this pattern even more interesting, is that this pattern, known as "Just Flowers" was the replacement pattern for Sears' Merry Mushroom (which was made by Corning, of course). 

This IS indeed Narumi Neoceram, and the china pattern that matches was also available from "Mikasa/Narumi"

Here is a picture of what I call the Avocado Tulip patternI think this particular design is significantly older (1960s) than either the Vegetable or the Wildflower-ish pattern.

I also found, what I believe to be, another pattern on Ebay recently done in a wrap around fruit design.

Where is your Corningware?? or Fire & Ice?? or Narumi??

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Super Secret Saucemaker - 1 Pint Saucemaker

Well, another "find" found it's way into my hot little hands.

The most interesting thing is that I cannot find it in any of the books I have on Corningware, nor can I find it anywhere on the internet.  My guess is that it's either a "super secret squirrel piece" that was being tested by a group of consumers, or it was a promotional item.  I'm really not sure.

I see the 1 quart (P-55-B & P-64-B) and 2 quart (P-65-B) models all the time. (OK, I see the 2 quart size less frequently, but they are out there)   I had no idea that this piece ever existed and evidently neither do any of the Corningware dedicated blogs and sites, nor did any of the authors of Corningware Collectors Guides.  So in the interest of disseminating as much information as possible to everyone, THIS is my "find".

Corningware 1 Pint Saucemaker 
in Cornflower

As you can see, it's significantly smaller than my 1 Quart Wheat Saucemaker.

It requires a Petite handle (P-41-HG) instead of the regular handle (P-10-HG) used on the 1 & 2 Quart sizes.

It's marked inside up to 2 cups/16 Oz.

There is no model number on the back, like all my others.  It simply says "1 PT. Saucemaker".

The lid has no numbers on it, which I think is a little odd.  My 1 Quart lids has an A-6 on it.

Be that as it may, I am excited to have found something that seems to be unknown.  As far as using it?  Well, I can think of no better crucible for making browned butter.  :-)

Where is your Corningware??

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

About Town with Corningware - Vengeance Served Cold, but in Stylish Bakeware

I figured that it was time that I expounded on one of the patterns that I collect.  French White.  After all, it is this pattern/design that is ultimately responsible for this whole blog.   Let me recap from the opening post of this blog.

In 2006, I was making a casserole for a Potluck at work.  Realizing that I did not have a baking dish that was big enough, I ran to the store and purchased a piece of, what I thought was, Corningware French White.  When I got home and took it out of the box, it seemed awfully heavy.  I began examining the piece and discovered that it had a firing on the bottom where it sat in the kiln.  This was weird.  So I dug out my quiche dish (purchased back in 1991 or so) and looked at the bottom... It was all nice and smooth, no ring.  I checked my Souffle dish as well, it was smooth on the bottom too.  So, I found "World Kitchen" on the Internet and started reading through their web site.  This is the excerpt from their "History of Corningware"

History of CorningWare®

The original CorningWare® bakeware which was first introduced in 1958, was made of a glass-ceramic material that could be used on the stove, in the oven and under the broiler. After World Kitchen acquired the brand in the late 1990’s, CorningWare products were switched to ceramic stoneware production.  Introduced later that year was the French White collection, which has been an all-time best seller among brides-to-be.

I knew this wasn't right.  There was no possible way that French White was introduced in the late 90's, because I purchased my souffle and quiche dish in the early 90's and it most definitely wasn't made of stoneware.  Something was amiss.

I called World Kitchen and asked if there was any place I could buy original Pyroceram Corningware in French White.  The Customer Service representative told me exactly what the web site said... French White was introduced AFTER World Kitchen purchased the Corning Consumer division in 1999 and it had always been made of stoneware and never from Pyroceram.

When I informed them that I had Souffle and Quiche dishes in my kitchen that were made of Pyroceram from 1991, the representative called me a liar.  TO MY FACE, or at least as "To your face" as you can get over the phone. They even had the sheer gall to argue with me after I gave them the "F-3-B" number off the bottom of the quiche dish.  Then I suddenly got disconnected.. (I still think they just hung up on me)  I was going to call them back and give then another "F" something, but decided against it.  There ARE other ways after all.  I am a very patient person, when I have to be.   

Now I will be the first to admit that I am not a big fan of change, but I understand that they changed the product because it was longer conducive to the way the majority of the population cooks in this day and age.  I get it.  What I do NOT like, is a corporation banking on a name that is associated with premium quality to sell an inferior product at a premium price.  That piece of stoneware was an absolute joke.  It crazed in less than a year.  It wasn't from the automatic dishwasher either, cause the apartment I was living in at the time didn't have an automatic dishwasher. Just a manual one; Me.

What I dislike even more than sneaky corporations, is when said sneaky corporation tells me I'M lying or crazy, when I am, in fact, quite correct and they are the ones lying through their teeth.

But it's all water under the bridge now, kind of.  As I posted earlier, REAL Corningware is back.  Though they still aren't producing my beloved French White, I am happy that it is available to the public, even if only Online.

Oh, and so, to prove my point...   I swear, after this blog post, I will let it go forever....

Vengeance is mine World Kitchen!!!!  Muah ha ha ha ha!!!!!!

Your Customer Service department (and the falsified history on your web site) can Eat Crow!!!!!!

Behold!  A box for pyroceram French White, BWK (Before World Kitchen)

Behold!  The date on said box and the producer... Corning Consumer Products.... (not World Kitchen)

After 6 years, I finally feel 100% vindicated.  All this information is out on the Internet for everyone to see.  Now, World Kitchen cannot pull the same shenanigans on other innocent unsuspecting customers.  The truth is out here.  (queue music from X-Files)

Vive la Pyroceram !

The Real French White

Corningware didn't stop at just French White, though.  It's true.  Eventually they began printing patterns on the French White as well, as evident with English Meadow, Callaway, Oceanview, My Garden and Delicious (which I have never been able to find); just to name a few.  But "patterns" were not the only way they altered French White over the years.

At one point a Blue trim was available.....

Then there was the Gold trim.  This was a special metallic trim that could be used in the microwave. (who'd a thunk it?)

But that wasn't good enough.....

There was French Bisque (1982-1985)

Then French Bleu; though it didn't last very long (1983-1984)

These colors were both sprayed upon the entire outside surface of the French White pieces.  The inside of these pieces was not painted.

Eventually culminating in 1990 with "Classic Black". (which went perfectly with the black and brass furniture of the late 80's & early 90's and prints by Patrick Nagel hanging on walls because of Duran Duran's Rio album) Please note, that although this is lovingly referred to as "French Black" the actual design name was "Classic Black" (1990-1993?)

The most interesting thing about Classic Black, is that it really isn't black at all... It's dark red.  Evidently, this has been a common practice with coloring glass.  The pieces are either so deep a purple or intensely red that they appear black to the naked eye.  Other examples would be Black Amethyst & Black Ruby Glass.

Just shine a super bright light through the glass and you will see the awesomeness that is Classic Black Corningware. (this is a halogen bulb shining through the bottom of a 10 inch quiche dish)

Cool party trick, huh? 

Where is your Corningware??

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

About Town with Corningware - A Patchwork of Patterns

I am pretty much at the end of the patterns that I have seen so far.  I know there are others out there, such as Jardin, but I haven't seen any of the pieces in the thrift stores.  I have one more post, but it is more about the shape of Corningware rather than printed pattern decorationYes, it will be about my beloved French White that started all this.  I figured this pattern would "sew" things up rather nicely.


This pattern is a multi-pattern; meaning that different pieces had different designs printed on them.  The Fruit Basket pattern was done this way as well.  Also, like Fruit Basket, this pattern was produced to coordinate with a Corelle dinnerware pattern.  There were only 3 sizes made in this pattern, like the other "Lifestyles" patterns. (Duck and Blue Heart).

The A-3-B (3 quart saucepan/casserole)...

The A-2-B (2 quart shallow casserole)...

and the A-1.5-B (1 1/2 quart saucepan/casserole)

Quilt pieces in Corning Ware were only available until 1995 before they were discontinued.  It is unclear, at this time if the Corelle pattern was also discontinued in 1995.

Where is your Corningware??

Monday, June 24, 2013

About Town with Corningware - Indian Summer

From the special line of "designer" casseroles that included April, Blue Heather, Meadow and .....

Indian Summer

Where is your Corningware??

About Town with Corningware - Pieces of April

This was one of 4 patterns that were part of a special line of "Designer" Casseroles... Indian Summer, Blue Heather, Meadow and .......


Where is your Corningware??