Whether you’re heading out on the trail or the range, do not leave home without this campsite necessity.
“A cast-iron skillet is synonymous in American culture with the Winchester rifle, Jack Daniels, cowboy boots, and grilled steaks,” says Mark Kelly, the public relations and advertising manager for the Lodge Manufacturing Company, a leader in the development and production of cast-iron cookware since 1896. Famed for their excellent heat retention, cast-iron skillets became so ubiquitous on the frontier that saddle bags for Pony Express riders were sized to fit a cast-iron skillet so they could cook and eat on their route.
Indeed, the story of the West can’t fully be told without the cast-iron skillet. And that story, in turn, can’t be told without Lodge. Originally established by Joseph Lodge as The Blacklock Foundry, the company changed its name in 1910 after a fire razed the original building. Today, the Tennessee-based company, which continues to be helmed by members of the Lodge family, is the only remaining domestic producer of cast-iron cookware. Gone are Favorite Stove & Range Company and Wapak Hollow Ware, while Wagner and Griswold only lives on through nostalgia, thanks to the Wagner and Griswold Society and avid collectors.
Lodge’s longevity, in contrast, can be credited to forward thinking and competition. “I know it’s a cliché, but competition always makes a company stronger,” Kelly says. “It also leads to product innovation.” One of the company’s most successful technological advancements? Preseasoned skillets. More environmentally friendly than chemically treated nonstick cookware and infinitely more durable, the major breakthrough opened up the market for Lodge and reintroduced the company to American households.
Cast-iron is nothing if not versatile. “You can perform any cooking technique [using a cast-iron skillet] — fry, sear, sauté, bake, stir-fry, braise — on any cooking surface, except for the microwave,” Kelly says. “It can be used on the stovetop, in the oven, on the grill, and at the campsite. And if it’s maintained properly, it will last a minimum of 100 years.”
For more information on the Lodge Manufacturing Company and their products, visit www.lodgemfg.com.
From the May/June 2013 issue.