The aluminum and cookware industries in Washington County were main employers during the 20th century. Manufacturing competitors West Bend Aluminum Company and Kewaskum Aluminum Company (later Regal Ware, Inc.) began production early in the 20th century only eight miles apart. These company histories, while interesting in themselves, would be remiss without discussion of broader influences. Both companies had a substantial effect on American consumerism, women’s social roles, and industrial design. Today the West Bend Company and Regal Ware, Inc., are two of the best-known makers of cookware and small appliances around the world. Their ability to survive economic depression, war, and changing times are three reasons for their success and make them excellent examples of the American dream come to life. With deep roots in Washington County, they were able to spread wide nets and capture loyalty around the globe.
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Janean Mollet-Van Beckum is the research center supervisor for the Washington County Historical Society. The society is the repository for the corporate records and photographs of the West Bend Company and also cares for many of the historical records and photographs of Regal Ware, Inc.
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