Watch It Made Blog

Posts for November 2007

All over the U.S., the kitchen is a busy place at Thanksgiving. This month, in honor of this patriotic/culinary festival, we present factory tours about things we use in our kitchens—stuff made right here in the U.S. You can read more about these and many other factory tours in the 4th edition of Watch It Made in the U.S.A.

Mixing it up

If you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, you can be sure it was made in Greenville, OH. In its factory there, KitchenAid produces all of its famous stand mixers and ships them throughout the world.

We love tours by real factory workers. Pulled from the assembly line to greet you, your guide is a member of the manufacturing staff. Although KitchenAid has moved from two-person workstations to an assembly line, the processes are still highly manual; during the tour, workers may pause in their duties to explain them. Sparks fly in the machine shop, where the diecast parts of the mixers are worked. The sparks come from the smoothing of rough spots and bumps that appear on the metal cases when they are cast. In the subassembly area, as some workers wrestle with wire whips for blending, others bring parts of the motor together. In the zone of final assembly, all parts unite in the finished product, which is inspected and boxed for the last stage: shipping. The immense shipping area is lined with a breathtaking multitude of boxes—enough mixers for, quite literally, the whole world.

Home on the range

Among the fixtures you will find in good kitchens everywhere, including the set of Iron Chef America on TV, is a Viking range made in Greenwood, MS. The factory tour is full of action. In the receiving area, forklifts heave sheet steel and wiring into the factory. The Vipros turret punch press, one of the company’s most powerful and impressive machines, loads the sheet metal onto the press table. Silver shavings drop to the floor as the machine’s sharp prongs drill screw holes. After the drilling stage, other machines fold the shiny metal. The expertise required by the workers, who wire the ovens for their features, is as impressive as the machines.

Setting the table

Founded in 1871, Homer Laughlin in Newell, WV, is the nation’s largest manufacturer of restaurant china. You may know their work in the bright Fiesta tableware, hugely popular throughout the world. On a tour of their giant factory (a mile long!), you observe three ways of shaping clay, plus the glazing, firing, and decorating processes.

In Greensboro, NC, Replacements is the world’s largest supplier of discontinued and active china, crystal, and flatware. It receives 15,000 requests for patterns every month. Much of the company's work involves restoration—healing the wear and tear of many Thanksgivings! Wearing goggles that protect their eyes, skilled workers carefully smooth out tiny chips in crystal. Besides restoring crystal to its original beauty, workers reglaze and fire certain china pieces to remove scratches.

Whatever you do for Thanksgiving this year, we hope you have a good holiday!

Posted By Karen Axelrod Nov 14, 2007