A Chinese Puzzle

Many Americans will remember the Corningware brand of kitchen cookware, a top quality range of products that withstood quite intense heat without cracking. It was first produced in 1958.

Not being American, I wasn’t familiar with the product until about two years ago. It was just prior to Christmas. My wife being rather partial to a very chocolatey festive pudding that requires pressure cooking, I went in search of ramekins.

I found them in a local supermarket, Kroger, and purchased the last six on the shelf.

They appeared to perform admirably, and as we like a small piece of dark chocolate after our meal each evening, they became the repository of said cocoa product on our daily dinner trays.

This meant they were washed frequently in the dishwasher. After some months had passed I noticed the glaze on the bottom of the ramekins had worn away exposing a dark under-layer, with the exception of one ramekin which remained as white and smooth as the day it was bought.

It was something of a mystery. Each ramekin was used, and washed, as frequently as the others, yet one was untouched by the dishwasher while the others were decidedly tarnished. I determined to get to the bottom of this enigma.

“Getting to the bottom,” proved to be more than an over-used idiom, as turning all the pots upside down rapidly revealed the cause.

The five offending ramekins are all stamped, “Corningware”. The embossed writing on the sixth pot is more difficult to make out, but by clicking on the image to enlarge it, then clicking on it again to full size, its just possible to make out the name, “Corningware” on this one also.

Apart from the obvious difference, that five of them had the name stamped on the bottom prior to firing, while the embossed letters of the sixth were likely done in a mold, there is another factor that may not be so obvious from the images.

The five stamped, inferior, ramekins are clearly marked, “Made in China,” but even at the webpage resolution of the image below, on a large computer screen it’s not difficult to make out, across the center of the sixth pot, the words, “Made in USA”. (if you’re reading this on a laptop, click on the image to enlarge it).

Wikipedia informs us that Corningware was bought out by World Kitchens Incorporated, of Reston, Virginia. Following that takeover, two factories – in Pennsylvania and Illinois – were closed. The reason given by World Kitchens, Inc was:

…….as part of a program designed to reduce costs through the elimination of under-utilized capacity, unprofitable product lines, and increased utilization of the remaining facilities.”

Or, to put it more succinctly, the Chinese will make us a totally inferior, though similar looking product, for a fraction of the price, and American customers will never know the difference.

Well, until we come to wash them a few times.

Of course, we all know it’s not just the quality of ramekins that has suffered from the greedy profit-taking of the corporates. Almost everything bought in America these days is labelled, “Made in China”, and it’s all rubbish.

Once again, we are confronted with irrefutable proof that the powerful, wealthy, corporates are selling America down the Yangtze River to line their own pockets.

These are the people our politicians, particularly Republicans, have sold out to. They stand with hands on hearts and declare their patriotism, while engaging in anti-American activities.

They may feign loyalty to their America, but they are nothing less than traitors to the America people.

America is in hock to China for billions of dollars, while China unloads its cheap tat on the US public. Meanwhile, US Corningware workers continue to draw their unemployment benefit.

The enigma of the ramekins may have ramifications for us all.

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4 Replies to “A Chinese Puzzle”

  1. RJ,

    You should send this article to Consumer Reports and other publications. It’s a calm, rational demonstration of the world we’ve become. Great job! I may ‘steal’ it and put it up on my site.

  2. Oh how succintly you put it, RJA!
    I have used Corningware since moving to Canada both on top of the stove and in the oven, 40 years old and still looking brand new!
    Your post tells the entire story of our sellout to China and the Walmartization of North America.

  3. This is exactly it in a nutshell (or ramekin) isn’t it, RJ. Excellent piece! How about sending a copy – printed out – to your local newspaper, and other publications?

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