Thursday, September 5, 2013

It's Hip to Be Square - Corningware vs Anchor Hocking Cookware

You may have seen it floating around the Thrift Stores on occasion.  The Black Wheat Sheaf staring at you from a shelf... But it ain't Corningware.   It's Anchor Hocking "Cookware"

Originally produced from 1963-1968, this was Anchor Hocking's attempt to make a Corningware type product.

(Print ad From Nov. 5th 1964)

Pyroceram is technically a brand name that encompasses several of Corning Glass Works products that include Corningware, Centura and, later, Suprema.  Since their campaign for their "Corningware" product was already making use of the term "Space-Age Ceramic", Anchor-Hocking referred to theirs as "Astro-Age Ceramic".  While it may be true that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, Corning was not amused.

A lawsuit was filed for patent infringement.  Thus, Corning vs Anchor Hocking began.  Anchor-Hocking counter claimed that Stookey's patent on Ceramic Glass (devitrification of glass) was unclear and unenforceable as there was no way to accurately test for the percentage of crystallization in the glass body. 

Originally, Anchor Hocking's counter claim was upheld and they won the lawsuit, but Corning appealed and won the second time.  Stookey's patent was deemed enforceable and the decision based on Anchor's claim regarding the inability to accurately determine the percentage of crystalline formation via in the glass overturned.

As a result, by 1969, Anchor was forced to pull their product from the shelves.

I own a piece of this Anchor Hocking Cookware, simply out of interest in all cooking utensils made of ceramic glass.  Though I am not in possession of an X-ray powder diffractometer or anything, there are a few observations I have made regarding the Anchor Hocking product.

The obvious difference, though it is basically the same material, is the shape.  It's not square like Corningware...  It's also not round like the Corningware Buffet servers.  It's a rounded square or a squared round shape.  Either way, it's sort of a "noncommittal" shape; being neither round nor square.  :)

This lack of commitment to a shape is carried through with a seeming lack of commitment to making a quality product as well.

The particular piece I own is full of flaws from the forming of the original glass body, prior to devitrification. 

There is a general unevenness to the glass as well (high/low places around the outside)

Splotching of the enamel from the design (it isn't baked on food)

The piece in general has thinner walls, yet it's heavier than my corresponding Corningware 2 1/2 quart saucepan.

These issues are not just on my particular piece either.... Every time I see these in the Thrift Store, they always have the same problems.

The one nice thing, is the construction of the handles.  Their grip-lock system is really nice for clamping the handle to the pot, but it's a little bit of a bear to release the catch.

In conclusion....  Corningware was already making a superior product.  Anchor Hocking seems to have merely been trying to cash in on a popular item by throwing something together and getting it to market as quickly as possible.

Where is your Corningware??


  1. I finally gave in and purchased a 2 1/2 qt. black wheat saucepan that had staring at me from the shelves of the Idaho Youth Ranch store for a couple of months. It has no lid, but I figured I could put in the Corning Ware display I'm mounting at our public library next month. It will be the representative of the several imitators (Narumi, Libby, etc.) that sprang up.

    Have you ever cooked with your black wheat piece? If so, how did it fare compared to your Corning Ware?

  2. I tried a couple times. I was not happy with the results.. Even on medium flame, it suffered from serious hotspot issues. It doesn't seem to clean up as easily as Corning Ware, either. But when frying an egg on low heat, it seemed to do OK. I have a couple pieces of Cer-Vit by Libbey, but I have not tried to cook in either one of the pans as of yet. I do like the Nouveau pieces made by Arcoflam for Princess House though.....

  3. What would be the # on the Fire King lid that fits your black wheat 2 1/2 Anchor Hocking ? ..i have 2 of them without lids..very hard to find info on these . Also would you happen to know if this was the only Pattern design made for the cooktop ?

    1. Sadly,Anchor Hocking did not mark their lids with model number, like Corning did.



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