Friday, April 3, 2015

U is for Unsolved Mystery - U-series Corning Ware

The time has come...    I have only mentioned the U-Series Corning Ware pieces in my ABCs of Corning Ware post, up until now.  Simply because, at the time of writing, the only piece I had seen was a 5 quart (U-5) piece on eBay.  No other information was available at the time.  Neither of the books mention this particular series and the Internet is devoid of anything resembling informative data.   At the time, I assumed that it might have been a Crockpot insert or something.

Well, new information has come to light, finally.  So now it's time for some theorizing and postulation utilizing the  small amount of data available.

I found a U-1-B at the thrift store.  So now I know for sure that the U-5 was not just a crockpot insert, this really was a full on line of cookware.

Interestingly, I noticed that the U-1-B is a dead ringer for the N-1-B Rangetopper.

 (Rangetopper left; U-series right)

This piece did not come with a lid, but I assumed it was suppose to have a P-81-C lid, like the Rangetopper equivalent, however, it seemed loose.  So I dug out my Rangetopper (N-1-B) and checked the lid on that one.  It is loose too, and I know that is the proper lid for that piece.

Thus, I am to assume that the lids for these pieces are just a little on he loose side. Since there is the same amount of sideways movement on both pieces.

 (Rangetopper with lid, notice the right side lip of the saucepan is exposed)

(U-series with lid, notice the right side lip of the saucepan is exposed, just like on the Rangetopper above)

I had begun to think that these may be a special white version of the Aluminum encapsulated style of Rangetopper.  But that theory was blown out the window when I got my hands on a U-1 1/2-B in it's original box and it's original lid (P-83-C).  Which is the same lid used on the 1 1/2 quart Rangetopper, by the way.

The box, as you can see, clearly states... "Rangetop, Microwave, Oven, Freezer, and Table".  So these pieces do NOT have aluminum in them.

So now we know several things.
  1. The U-series is not just a single 5 quart Crock pot insert.
  2. The U-series is modeled after the Rangetopper N-series, but devoid of Aluminum.
  3. The lid on the U-1 1/2 us a P-83-B (same as the Rangetopper lid for the N-1 1/2-B)
  4. The lid on the U-1-B is more than likely the P-81-C. (same as the Rangetopper N-1-B)
  5. The pyroceram handles are not rounded like the later S-series (Rangetop line) which were based on Visions shapes.
  6. The measurements on the saucepans are in "Liters" not quarts, thus they are from the 80s after the switch, which I know for sure was in place by 1984 and probably a little earlier.
  7. Rangetoppers were discontinued by 1984.
  8. The Rangetop line (S-series) did not make an appearance until 1988.

From all this information, I must conclude that the U-series, though it appears to have only come in white, was used to fill a marketing gap. Produced from 1983-1987 from the RangeTopper molds, without the Aluminum cladding, until the S-series Visions style Rangetop pieces were released in 1988.  It's completely possible that the "U" stands for "Unclad"; since they are basically RangeTopper pieces without aluminum, making them safe for Microwave usage.

That is my current theory...   If anyone has any more information, I would greatly appreciate it.

Where is your Corning Ware??
Wow that was fast...!  New information has already surfaced within 10 minutes of posting...  Thanks to Jennifer in Florida.  It appears that the Christmas pattern piece from 1983 was a U-series piece...

So, it appears that the U-series was around by December of 1983 and available to Corning Employees.  My assumption is that it hit the mainstream market as soon as January of 1984.


  1. I was researching into the the U-series a little while ago, trying out the theory that the "U" stood for "UK". I didn't find anything solid, but I did stumble across a UK based vendor that sells some pieces that look a lot like those:

    There is no indication that they have the same (or any) letter-number model numbers, but I did think it was an interesting coincidence.

  2. I have a U-5-B but no lid. Do you know which Pyrex lid will fit? Thank you!


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