Pyrex - modern icon
matter where you live you've probably got a little piece of Sunderland in your
The city produced Pyrex, a revolutionary type of glass that became
a "must-have" in kitchens throughout the world.
got some hiding in a cupboard right now.
We asked actress Wendy Craig,
who is something of a Pyrex fan, to investigate.
History in the making
Joblings started making Pyrex in Sunderland in 1922.
The company had fallen
on hard times, but a new recruit to the family business, Ernest Jobling Purser,
had heard about a technique for making glass that wouldn't crack or shatter in
single piece of Pyrex came from Sunderland. |
glassmakers Cornings had stumbled on Pyrex.
Joblings saw its potential and
secured the licence to make and sell it across the Empire.
had a near world-wide market.
Since the 1920's millions of casseroles, bowls,
dinner services and measuring jugs have been churned out at the Joblings factory
Its glassware made Pyrex a household name around the world.
in the kitchen
Pyrex was part of a social revolution.
First World War and the disappearance of domestic servants, middle class women
were forced into the kitchen.
Craig cooks up a feast with her Pyrex glassware|
the first domestic item marketed directly at the housewife.
But few people
realised just the impact that the introduction of a heat resistant glass would
It was a godsend for the new domestic goddesses because you could
safely take it from the oven straight to the table.
It was also presentable
enough to impress guests, and was easily washed up afterwards.
made housewives more confident about getting good results in the kitchen.
Pyrex even tried to make a virtue of shortages in World War
2, encouraging housewives to use the glassware for more economical recipes like
Casserole - hearty fare cooked in a Pyrex dish|
boasted that because all the ingredients went in one casserole, the glass retained
heat so saving fuel.
And because the dish went straight to the table, there
was no waste and less washing up!
We asked actress Wendy Craig,
who famously cooked up mealtime disasters as Ria in TV's 'Butterflies', to cook
the casserole using Pyrex.
Why not try the recipe at home for yourself...
1lb parsnips or turnips
1 leek or small onion
1 teaspoon veg.
or meat extract dissolved in one teacup of water
1/2 teaspoon of thyme
Part of a small cabbage
Pinch of sage
Small piece of dripping
* Shred cabbage finely. Slice other vegetables
as thin as paper.
* Roll out sausage meat on a well-floured board and cut
into four pieces, the size of the Pyrex casserole.
* Grease the casserole,
and put in alternate layers of vegetable and sausage, sprinkling seasoning in
* Let first and last layer be potato slices.
* Pour in gravy.
Put on lid and cook in moderate oven for 30 minutes.
* Take off the lid,
dot the top potatoes with tiny pieces of dripping and return to oven for 20 minutes.
Pyrex has had many different styles and designs down the years.
on the company attempted to make it ornate, but the glassware really took off
when it became a basic must-have household item.
When white Pyrex came
along, designs could be added - and sales went through the roof.
for the Pyrex and Jobling mark on glassware|
At its height
3,000 people worked at the Sunderland factory.
Pyrex was flying off the
shelves - not least because it was desirable and durable.
So how valuable
is traditional Pyrex today in terms of their collectability?
Craig visited a leading auctioneer to have a couple of old items valued.
spoke to Rod Meek of Anderson and Garland who told her that the items aren't worth
much because they are not retro enough yet.
If you're searching the backs
of your cupboards for older Pyrex, it's worth looking out for the JAJ symbol on
Future of Pyrex
So what about in the future?
Pyrex might become more collectable for all the wrong reasons - it won't be made
in Sunderland any more.
The factory has had a number of different foreign
owners in recent years and in September 2007 it will close and production will
move to France.
Glassmaking is coming to an end in Sunderland, so next time
you get your humble casserole out of the oven, cherish it that little bit more!
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