Cooking technology has come a long way from open flames. We now take for granted convection ovens, microwaves and even sous vide machines in our homes that were unimagined in the past. However, there are certain cooking tools that simply can’t be improved, namely cast iron cookware.
While manufacturers have tried to further optimize cast iron pans over the past 50 to 60 years, many cast iron die hards don't believe anything can compete with the pans from the beginning of the 20th century. Why is that though? According to Dennis Powell Jr., the founder of cast iron cookware company, Butter Pat Industries, the entire evolution of cast iron can be explained with one simple event: the switch from a smooth finished surface to a pre-seasoned, much rougher one.
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If you happen to own a very old cast iron pan, maybe one that you’ve inherited from your grandmother or purchased at a yard sale or antique market, the first thing you notice is that the surface is completely smooth. However, most modern cast iron pans are not. According to Powell, this is where the divide began. “Up until the 50s, every cast iron pan ever sold in America was created without pre-seasoning,” he says. “Then Lodge started selling their pans pre-seasoned because they knew that people no longer insisted on doing the seasoning themselves.”