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Is Cast Iron Cookware the Key?

Alfred Spada

I love cast iron cookware. In my kitchen, we use multiple size skillets and two different ceramic-coated dutch ovens on a weekly basis.

The funny thing is ... it took this issue’s feature article, “Lodge’s Recipe for Growth” on p. 20, on Lodge Manufacturing Co., South Pittsburg, Tenn., for me to realize I didn’t love cast iron cookware enough.

When talking to friends, family and the next generation about metalcasting, my message focuses on how big the industry is, the great job opportunities available, the industry’s sustainability, and how metalcasting enhances the society in which we live. While my discussions always showcase familiar examples of metal castings (golf club heads, hip replacements, the Oscar statue and cast iron cookware), the reality is that I was burying the lead.  These presentations should open with:

We Make Cast Iron Cookware!

Cast iron cookware has an amazing cool factor going for it right now.  It seems like everyone is becoming a foodie and a chef at home. “Made in America” is a strong catch-phrase today. Celebrities like Alton Brown are espousing the merits of cast iron cooking. To truly understand the love growing for cast iron, look to the success at Lodge.

By utilizing its own ingenuity with the development of seasoned cookware in 2002 and marketing to societal trends, Lodge has doubled its sales from 2009-15. In 2012-13, the firm expanded its production capacity by 40%.  At the end of 2015, Lodge is running at full capacity and examining potential plans to further double capacity in the next year or two.

Maybe our metalcasting industry can utilize this embrace of cast iron cookware to continue to build our brand and image to society and the next generation of metalcasters.

From an industry marketing perspective, cookware is one of the few metal castings the average consumer can relate to because they can buy it at their local retailer. Cast iron cookware also is the epitome of strength and longevity, as it is known to be passed down for generations.  It is considered one of the best mediums for cooking because it maintains and distributes heat evenly, effectively develops the Maillard reaction to ensure searing and browning of food, self-seasons, and defines versatility for everything from sautéing to deep-frying.

So, the next time you are out marketing on behalf of the metalcasting industry, swing by your local cookware shop and purchase a cast iron skillet to demo. It might be the key to our future.