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If nothing sticks to Teflon - how does Teflon stick to the pan?
How does Teflon stick to the pan?

Teflon, the non-stick coating used on pots and pans, holds the title in the Guiness Book of World Records as being the slipperiest substance on earth.

Scientifically speaking, Teflon will not chemically bond to anything, but can be forced mechanically into small nooks and crannies. This slippery substance adheres to their surfaces once manufacturers sandblast them to roughen them, apply a primer, and embed the Teflon into the primer.

DuPont scientist, Dr. Roy Plunkett, accidentally created the recipe for Teflon in 1938, while attempting to produce a better coolant gas than the one currently on the market. In doing so, he toyed with different combinations of gases and, either accidentally or intentionally, left one batch of gasses in a container overnight. Upon arrival at work the following morning, he found that the gasses in the container had "vaporized," and in their stead, found a slippery, waxy solid, which remained intact when exposed to corrosive chemicals which normally eat through things with which they come into contact.

The substance Dr. Plunkett discovered in the container that day was tetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a solid version of fluorocarbons, or freon. For pronunciation's sake, the doctor shortened the name for the substance to Teflon, but even the abbreviated name failed to nudge DuPont into production of the product.

In fact, DuPont waited until 1948, ten years after Teflon's discovery, before beginning its production for commercial applications.

As DuPont dragged its heels in launching Teflon, a Parisian named Marc Gregoire learned of it, and successfully applied it to his fishing tackle to prevent the line from tangling. At his wife's urging, he managed to apply Teflon to her pots and pans, and within several years, this entrepreneur sold in excess of one million Tefal (his name for Teflon) coated pots and pans.

The concept of Teflon coated pots and pans did not stick in America. When UPI reporter Thomas Hardie encountered one of these coated pans, when visiting a friend who had just returned from Paris, he saw a niche in the American market for the slick pots and pans, and immediately contacted Marc Gregoire in Paris. Hardie pitched these pots and pans to every major U.S. manufacturer of cooking utensils to no avail. His next move in his quest for a buyer was to import 3,000 of the pots and pans, with the goal of selling them to all major department stores. Once again, he hit a roadblock until, finally, he convinced a buyer at Macy's Herald Square to take 200 pans off of his hands. All sold within two days, despite a major snowstorm.

Hardie had finally arrived, and could not keep up with the demand for his product. While building a manufacturing plant to produce the product, other manufacturers of pots and pans took advantage of Hardie's moment of silence on the scene, seized the opportunity, and manufactured their own coated pots and pans.

Today, the use of Teflon coating is firmly embedded in America, and extends beyond pots and pans to include bakeware and other kitchen utensils. Hardie's initiative and staying power paid off handsomely.

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