Lodge Manufacturing Still Makes Your Grandmother’s Cast Iron Skillet

There’s a basic paradox in the cast iron cookware business: the very longevity, durability, and flexibility that are your products’ main selling points also mean that customers don’t have to replace them very often. By “not very often” we mean that there are plenty of century-old griddles, skillets, and waffle irons still in use. That’s a wonderful thing…unless you’re in the cast iron biz.

Just ask Bob Kellermann, great-grandson of Joseph Lodge and chief executive of the company he started in 1896. It’s wonderful when people tell him that they still use their grandma’s skillet that came out of his company’s foundry…but that kind of longevity isn’t very good for business. “The bitch of it is there’s no planned obsolescence,” he tells a Bloomberg Businessweek reporter in a fascinating profile of the company.

Not that the company is hurting. Twelve years ago, they introduced pre-seasoned skillets that appeal to just about everyone, not just campers and antique collectors. Big-box stores have since picked up Lodge’s products, most of which are made at their foundry in Tennessee. Related products like matching stainless-steel skillets and enameled cast iron cookware are imported from what the company calls its “partner foundry” in China.

While you might still be using your grandma’s cast-iron Dutch oven, she probably didn’t have a panini press or cactus-shaped baking pan to pass down. You could, though, and your grandchildren might even thank you for it.

America’s Last King of Cast Iron Finds His Time Has Come Again [Bloomberg Businessweek]

Read Comments5

Edit Your Comment

  1. theoriginalcatastrophegirl says:

    heck, i still use some stranger’s skillet that they left next to a dumpster at my old apartment. it’s a lodge. and while it needed some serious cleaning, it’s been great and even been featured as a photo on consumerist as it’s the pan i use to cook turkeys.
    but i bought a lodge combo cooker a few years ago and use it almost daily. it’s a dutch oven/deep pan/skillet combo where the lid of the dutch oven is the skillet. stove top, camping, on the grill, in the oven – so much love for that thing

  2. MissPurdy says:

    Lodge is the best. I have the square grill pan as well as a large skillet and a small 5 or 6 inch skillet that I use to mostly to make single serve home fries or a burger. The grill pan is the best thing ever to make chicken wings in the oven because you can crank up the heat to 500 or more, getting that nice crispy skin without deep frying. Plus the wings don’t sit in the fat while roasting and you get those cool grill marks. A+ for Lodge cast iron.

    As a side note, my brother still uses our grandmother’s dutch oven and frying pan that she got back around 1925, no joke.

  3. HappyCamper says:

    These things last forever, if I could only get my other half to stop trying to scrub them out with Brillo and Soap. They are also great as a replacement for exercise weights.

    • theoriginalcatastrophegirl says:

      if your other half MUST scrub, maybe try to convince them to use salt instead?
      i have had to reseason mine a few times after well meaning roommates

  4. Lenne says:

    Makes me wonder why if you are in the business of creating items that have an extreme long life, you wouldn’t invest in creating just that single product. How about releasing an entire line of ‘insert item here’. I am not suggesting developing a product that is going to fall apart in a few years as that would destroy your reputation and credibility.