A Requiem for CorningWare

vintage corningware

I got a rude surprise when I recently asked for some CorningWare as a gift. You probably know the bakeware that I’m talking about. CorningWare was famous for their bakeware with the blue cornflowers on it. It came in other patterns, but that blue cornflower was an icon. My grandmother had it, my mother and all my aunts had it, and I have a few pieces that I received as gifts years ago. However, as I just learned when I wanted to acquire a few extra pieces for the motor home, it is no longer made, having been replaced by “CorningWare Lite.”

So why is a personal finance writer writing a piece about the demise of a brand of bakeware? Because CorningWare is deeply ingrained in my mind as a symbol of frugality and it helped me in my own frugal journey. CorningWare could be used on the stove burner, in the oven, in the microwave, and then placed in the refrigerator for storage. It was dishwasher safe and easy to clean up. It was nearly indestructible, surviving many drops and collisions with other bakeware with only a tiny chip. Its versatility and ease of use made it easier to cook meals at home. You didn’t have to dig through (or buy) a bunch of specialized pots and pans to find what you needed to cook something; just grab the CorningWare. It was relatively inexpensive and great for those looking to cook at home on a budget.

I can remember my grandmother, who could cook dishes to rival anything you could buy in the finest restaurant, teaching me to cook with CorningWare. I was probably eleven. She preached it’s usefulness and told me that I could make anything if I had those dishes. So I made sure I had some in my cabinet when I went out on my own. No matter how little money I had, as long as I had my CorningWare I knew I could make a decent meal at home. Casseroles, pasta, vegetables, soups, and stews could all be made with CorningWare and some inexpensive ingredients. Between the CorningWare and a good slow cooker, I was set. I never had to worry about upgrading my CorningWare, or worry about replacing it if the finish started peeling, as happens with some of the non-stick pans made today. I moved without fear of damaging my CorningWare. A bookcase once fell on it and it survived. Those dishes contributed heavily to my early ability to be frugal and start putting money away for the future.

I don’t know the official reason that CorningWare is no longer made. I’ve heard rumors of everything from environmental issues to a theory that the age of the smooth top range ended its usefulness on the burner. I may be cynical, but I suspect the real reason is that it became expensive to produce, thereby cutting into Corning’s bottom line. They needed to find a way to boost profits and a cheaper product was probably the answer. Also, since the original CorningWare was virtually indestructible, they needed something that would break and give people a reason to buy more over time, rather than using the same pieces for fifty years.

The stuff that has replaced the original Corning Ware, this CorningWare Lite, is not as good. You can’t use it on the stove burner and it is flimsier. Indestructible it is not. It’s billed as lighter to carry, but lighter seems to translate into breakable. Like everything else in the world, what was once durable and well made is now flimsy and not as good as its predecessor. This happens with every product, from appliances to electronics to furniture. The things that our mothers and grandmothers used were generally built to last. The things we have on the market now are built to be replaced as soon as possible. Companies make more money if you have to buy their products often. They don’t make money if you can use the same product for fifty or sixty years. They say that if they make something cheaper they can pass the savings on to you, the consumer. I don’t know about you, but given a choice I’ll always pay a little bit more for something that I know will last rather than just buying the cheapest thing on the market. You’ll still save more in the long run.

Needless to say, I’m sad to see CorningWare go. Not only is it the end of a very useful product, it seems like the end of an era. It seems like it almost marks the final passing of the frugal era when people knew how to make things stretch, when they cooked at home, and when you bought something and used it forever. It seems like one of the last products that tried to help people be frugal and wise homemakers has fled the market, leaving us with nothing but “convenience products” that don’t last.

Well, the only good news for the frugal people is that we’ll have to be even more frugal in the ways we acquire CorningWare. I’ve had some success tracking down pieces at GoodWill and the Salvation Army, for a fraction of what I’d have paid at WalMart. So for now it’s Corning’s loss. But I feel bad for future generations who will not remember the days of products that helped you to be frugal simply by doing a good job and lasting a long time. Of course Corning’s not the only manufacturer taking the cheaper road and discontinuing their better products in favor of cheaper alternatives. They all do it. And eventually it will become a loss to all of us.

Share with us: What other products that helped you on your frugal journey have you seen taken off the market?

(Photo courtesy of bokeh burger)

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26 Responses to A Requiem for CorningWare

  1. Dismayed says:

    I don’t have a comment relating to a product taken off the market but I did buy a set of Anco windshield wipers at WalMart last week.

    Anco has always been a good product in the past, but the crap I purchased that day was so sub-standard that I took them off in the parking lot and got my money back. Those brand new wipers jumped and chattered across my windshield like a bunch of monkeys! Just shameful.

    But in Corning’s and Anco’s defense, let’s not overlook the role of the retailer here. WalMart *demands* lower prices and many manufacturers are put into the very difficult position of choosing to produce inferior, and thus cheaper, products vs. losing a great deal of their market share as a result of the retailer failing to carry their product. It’s the wrong decision made as a result of a bad policy but there it is anyway . . .

  2. Myrna Garren says:

    The flight from quality products has been going on for decades. If you go to a lot of rummage sales you can find CorningWare at a reasonable price. In my opinion it is a useable collectible. I don’t think that the quality of things will improve but if you can find the older products I would buy them if you can use them & you are not a collector.

  3. Myrna Garren says:

    The flight from quality products has been going on for decades. If you go to a lot of rummage sales you can find CorningWare at a reasonable price. In my opinion it is a useable collectible. I don’t think that the quality of things will improve but if you can find the older products I would buy them if you can use them & you are not a collector.

  4. Nagel says:

    Sorry to hear about Corning! I have learned of its value and quality over the years from my mother. I was thinking of investing in some pieces this year. Now I am going to rush out to one of those factory outlets to see if there is a fire sale on the remains.
    On the other hand, I may inherit a lot of pieces from my mother, who has been hoarding them. Perhaps she knew the end was near…

  5. Julie says:

    I was given my corning wear as a wedding gift 32 years ago. I use mine almost every time I cook. another thing I still use is my tupperware. I have had some pieces for 40 years. I got my canister set as a wedding gift also and still use it even tho I do not like the color any more. (orange)

  6. I’m really sorry to see CorningWare go especially since I grew up in Corning, NY – the town where the original CorningWare was made.

    Yes this sleepy upstate NY town was named after the company. As my dad worked for the company we always had CorningWare around.

    I believe Corning, Inc may have dropped the line because they are concentrating on higher profit products such as the glass used in high definition televisions, fiber optics used as the backbone of the internet, and pollution control systems used on automobiles and cars.

    All of these are high growth areas.

  7. Tom says:

    If I see some CorningWare in a store, how could I tell if it’s the old version or the new?

  8. Janis says:

    I received many pieces of Corning Ware as wedding presents when I got married over 30 years ago. I used them every day and enjoyed their versatility. However, they were all lost in Hurricane Katrina. I was able to replace most of them at a fraction of their cost by searching on ebay. You can tell it’s the old version by the small blue cornflower on each piece. Anything else, like multi-colored vegetables, etc. is NOT the original and CANNOT be used on the stovetop.

  9. Jen says:

    How sad 🙁 I’ve seen this occur with Revere Ware – the copper bottom stainless steel pots that my grandmother and mother used. I bought a set of Revere Ware at Kohl’s a few years ago, and it seemed to be the last box. Then, when my grandmother died, I got some of her Revere Ware and I could immediately see a difference in quality.

    The newer pots I bought were thinner and flimsier than my grandmother’s. The steel was thicker in her set, and the pots just feel like higher quality.

    It’s a shame items like these are disappearing or becoming cheaper in quality.

  10. John says:

    The company that makes the new CorningWare is not Corning, the company is World Kitchen. Corning sold its consumer products division in 1998. The company that purchased the consumer products division also bought Ecko and GHC, which all then combined to form World Kitchen. They have products like pyrex, corningware, bakers secret, revere, chicago cutlery, OXO, and the list goes on. Corning Incorporated was not responsible for the product changes that occurred a number of years after they sold the company. That being said, I miss the original stuff too.

  11. Tightwad says:

    I am fortunate to live near several retirement communities in AZ.
    Frequently the elder residents pass away and then there is the inevitable estate sale where one can purchase older -what they now call “retro”- items.
    Corningware is always amongst the merchandise.
    I pick it up for .50

  12. Gail says:

    I have older pieces of Corningware that I have picked up at yardsales and though I’m not as in love with it as you are, it does have its purpose and is great in the microwave.

    My favorite thing about the new Corning ware is the weight. When I developed arthritis, I found I was having great difficulty with my heavier plates, etc. I started picking up pieces of Corning dishes (usually at the thrift store) as they really are light and easy for someone like me to carry and hold onto. So for me this has been the rainbow with silver lining in sadness.

  13. Tom says:

    The original casserole set is supposedly available again. It seems to be the same design, but made in France. Here’s one place that sells it:


  14. Boomerang says:

    The original Corning Ware was not cheap…I was the envy of all my friends back in the 1970s when they saw that all of my pots and pans were Corning Ware. There were saucepans, skillets, Dutch ovens, and roasting pans; each type came in a variety of sizes. Luckily, I still have most of them, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

    Another thing most people don’t understand is that Corning Ware IS breakable…not in cooking, but if it falls on a hard floor or is subjected to other abuse, it can break. In our last move, 2 years ago, I unwrapped my 3-quart Corning Ware roaster to find it was split in half (and it was packed by professional movers!) I’m still trying to replace it.

    The explanation that the manufacturers discontinued the original Corning Ware because it was durable and therefore unprofitable doesn’t make sense when you consider that metal pots and pans are also durable.

    In addition to the original blue cornflower and multicolor floral designs, there was also perfectly plain white original Corning Ware. The French White and the new SimplyLite lines simply can’t compare to the original type…they can’t be used on top of the stove! But with the original type, you could, for example, roast a turkey or a ham or beef in the oven, remove the roast and make the gravy on the burner, and then put the roast back in the pan and reheat the whole thing in the microwave…all in the same pan!

    Young cooks who prefer Le Creuset (which I once had…it’s much heavier and it chips) or Calphalon pots and pans simply don’t know what they’re talking about.

    The original Corning Ware could be used in the oven, on top of the stove, and in the microwave! What could possibly compare to that?!

  15. Saros says:

    I’m really surprised at how the US market brands its products. It’s really misleading. Over here in Asia, we get different marketing on the products.

    First of all, “Corningware” SimplyLite, is not the same Corningware cookware. It is actually Corelle (Vitrelle glass). World Kitchen USA even says it is Vitrelle glass on their website. So of course you wouldn’t be able to use it on top of a stove, it’s not cookware, it’s bakeware (like Pyrex). In Asia, SimplyLite is branded as Corelle Lightweight Bakeware, which is accurate. I’m not sure why they would call it Corningware in US though.

    The “original” Corningware (glass cookware) is now made in France by Arc International (OEM manufacturer of brands like Luminarc). It has comparable quality and the same usage as the original Corningware. Pyrex is now also mostly made in France.

    In Asia, we have a few dozen floral patterns (florals are popular in Asia it seems) of the original Corningware still selling strongly in the market. So you might want to consider checking out Asian sources if you want to buy the “original” version of Corningware.

    As to how you can tell the “new” ones from the “old”, the “new” ones are made of stone or porcelain. The “old” ones are made of glass. If you are familar with these materials, you’ll notice that glass is perfectly smooth, non-porus, and is lighter than stoneware (but not porcelain).

  16. Saros says:

    By the way, World Kitchen Asia only lists the original Corningware. None of the stoneware stuff (which sad to say, is not even close to being useful).


  17. Jason says:

    What happen to vintage quality corningware.?Well,it lasted way too long and like everything in our country.It was moved to china for future quick disposile! Although you can still find it at resale shops if lucky.It has become a “collectors item”.I have a fantastic collection of cornigware and many in the original box from the orginal pattern, cornflower.There is no product on market that can do what corningware was famous for.As a cook,I appreciate this material. If you need corningware,contact me.

  18. Spektor says:

    The ‘Original’ Corningware made of “Pyroceram” glass-ceramic has thankfully been re-introduced by World Kitchens and is for sale on their corningware.com website. It’s called Corningware ‘Stovetop’ and can be used on the stovetop, in the oven or under the broiler, etc., just like the old product. Someone at World Kitchen obviously got the message that enough people still do want the old product.

    I can’t comment on the other products labeled as ‘Corningware’ ( deceptive marketing in my opinion), but vitrelle (a.k.a. Corelle) is supposed to be break resistant, but it still cant take stovetop or broiler use like ‘pyroceram’ can. Only pyroceram can withstand extreme thermal shock without shattering – like going from freezer to stovetop, etc. The other products cannot. It doesn’t make them bad per se, but far less functional, so why not go with the classic.

    I will buy my next piece from their website. If people don’t buy the reintroduced pyroceram Corningware, it again may die out, and that would be a terrible loss.

  19. tammy j says:

    Respectfully, not exactly Janis. The Blue Cornflower was one of the original patterns, and there are several. I have had, and still enjoy, my “Spice of Life” pieces that I’ve had for over for over 40 years. They are all “authentic” old Corningware and they also work very well now on my smooth surface cook top, oven and microwave… But like you, I am sad to see them go, and the quality of the newer cookware is not the same.

  20. olja says:

    So, everything that I see for sale on Amazon says Corningware, is that the new Lite? What else can I get that is non toxic? Ceramic? Thx.

  21. Debbie says:

    I just put a meat loaf in the oven in my Corningware (cornflower) loaf pan. I haven’t used it for a long time. I seem to remember that when cooking in Corningware, one is supposed to set the oven for 25 degrees less than the recipe calls for. Does anyone out there know if that’s true?

  22. Culinary Alchemist says:

    I am very thankful that they have re-released pyroceram. I really wish that they would re-release the French White in the pyroceram instead of leaving it to die under the less than dependable stoneware line. French white was always my favorite, though I have picked up a few wheat pattern pieces in thrift stores. My mom recently went nuts and bought a whole set of the new stuff in the Shadow Iris pattern, then proceeded to off load a copious amount of her blue cornflower from her wedding in the mid 60’s on me. LOL I am feeling pretty lucky about that. With it’s durability I am sure that I will have no problem passing it down to the next generation. GREAT STUFF!

  23. melissa says:


    I am looking for the original frying pan.


  24. melissa says:

    I am also looking for handles for the casseroles.

  25. Kris Crandall says:

    Dear Nagel, don’t go the outlets to find old Corningware, its only the new stuff now, regards, Kris

  26. Mary Brigham says:

    I was given three 1 qt. baking dishes 52 years ago as wedding gifts, still using one or two of this pieces every day. These were the best wedding gifts we ever could have received. I also have since inherited pieces from my aunt after she died and additional pieces from my mother and mother in law. I am still adding to my stash myself. However, through ignorance, my husband and I purchased new “Corning Ware”, thinking it was just like what we already owned. I was so excited to have found Corning Ware. How disappointed I was soon to discover, after purchasing, that these pieces are not pyroceram Corning Ware, but are stoneware….not what I wanted at all. I, too, feel that it is deceptive advertising using the Corning Ware name, as Corning Ware became synonymous with the original bakeware we have known and loved, bakeware that could go from freezer to oven and back without a hitch. This new product does not hold a candle to the original Corning Ware. I am extremely disappointed with our purchase of the new Corning Ware. I only will purchase Vintage Corning Ware when I need more bakeware.

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