We added two very nice pieces of vintage Pyrex to our webshop today. Our newly listed items include a lovely set of four graduated ‘Cinderella’ mixing bowls in the ‘Gooseberry’ pattern and a lidded casserole dish from the ‘Gaiety’ Snowflake range.
It got us to wondering when Pyrex was invented… 1940s/50s would probably have been our guess. We were a fair way out – it was a brand introduced by Corning Inc in 1908. The thermally resistant glass moved from industrial use to domestic applications (apparently after a Corning employee’s wife used a sawn off battery jar to bake a cake).
It’s certainly come a long way from that first cake and has found a home in millions of kitchen cupboards worldwide. It’s such a great material for kitchen use – durable, practical, heat resistant, doesn’t retain food smells, transparent and decorative too if desired.
Various designers have contributed to the shapes and patterns of Pyrex over the years – Penny Sparke, Betty Baugh, SMART Design and TEAMS Design amongst them.
You can go for the plain, clear glass or more colourful opaque ranges – and there certainly are some fabulous Pyrex patterns available.
So, where did the name Pyrex come from… this quote from a Corning executive:
The word PYREX is probably a purely arbitrary word which was devised in 1915 as a trade-mark for products manufactured and sold by Corning Glass Works. While some people have thought that it was made up from the Greek pyr and the Latin rex we have always taken the position that no graduate of Harvard would be guilty of such a classical hybrid. Actually, we had a number of prior trade-marks ending in the letters ex. One of the first commercial products to be sold under the new mark was a pie plate and in the interests of euphonism the letter r was inserted between pie and ex and the whole thing condensed to PYREX.
There are various websites dedicated to all things Pyrex – here are links to a few: