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Gold Medal Recipient

2008 Best in Category: Cookware & Bakeware

Lodge Mfg. Co.

12-inch Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet with Stainless Steel Handles

Taking a product as venerable and as seemingly unchangeable as a cast iron skillet and turning it into an award-winning example of design is no small feat.

That’s what Lodge Manufacturing accomplished with its Lodge Signature Series Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, the first-ever Best of the Best Gold Award winner at the 2008 Housewares Design Awards.

From the engineering challenges of joining two metals to the aesthetic and design enhancements required for 21st century appeal, every detail of the Lodge pan is the result of extensive planning.

Looking to provide an aesthetic update to the classic cast look the company undertook two significant changes. First, the company devised a straight-sided design in line with the most popular, high-end pans on the market today. Second, and far more challenging from an engineering standpoint, the company changed the classic cast iron handle design, choosing instead an ergonomically designed stainless steel handle.

“No one had ever drilled a hole through cast iron cookware and attached a handle with screw or rivets because of the potential of water entrapment,” said Jeanne Sholze, marketing director at Lodge.

To solve this, Lodge utilized high-temperature silicone gaskets, seals, washers and sleeves designed to lie between attachment points.

The attachment process was further complicated by the expansion rates of the metals involved, which necessitated the use of stainless steel, not only on the handles but also for the rivets used to attach the handles. “Due to similar ferrous metallurgy of stainless steel and cast iron, it was necessary to use stainless steel rivets,” said Scholze. “The expansion rates of the two metals are almost identical.”

The use of stainless steel rivets, much harder and requiring more force for attachment than more widely available and used aluminum rivets, presented further challenges and adjustments to prevent damage to pan bodies during manufacturing.

The design elements of this award-winning pan were not confined to overcoming engineering challenges. “We wanted to convey a sense of timelessness, blending the 19th century origins of our company with the 21st century sensibilities of today’s consumer,” Scholze said. “To do that we took an oppositional approach.”

That’s why the dark and rough surface of the pan itself is contrasted by its high-polish stainless handle design. The handle design itself is shaped to convey a Victorian sensibility, which in turn is complemented by the oval logo badge with the company’s founding date located at the handle’s attachment point to the pan.

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