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The Anniversary of an American Icon -- Reynolds Wrap(R) Aluminum Foil Turns 50

RICHMOND, Va., Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- It was 1947. Jackie Robinson became the first black major league baseball player. "A Streetcar Named Desire" opened on Broadway and Howdy Doody made his television debut. Chuck Yeager became the first man to break the sound barrier.

And, in American kitchens, a product was introduced that revolutionized the way people prepare meals -- Reynolds Wrap(R) Aluminum Foil. Though it's hard now to imagine a kitchen without it, when the product first appeared on grocery store shelves in 1947, few consumers had ever heard of aluminum foil. While the years have brought many changes to the American kitchen, aluminum foil remains a constant. In fact, today aluminum foil can be found in 98% of America's kitchens.

Reynolds Wrap was originally developed by the Reynolds Metals Company in the 1940's as an innovative solution to a problem faced by much of American industry. With the end of World War II in 1945, the nation's defense industry no longer needed the vast amount of aluminum it had used during the war years to make the planes and ships that had contributed to victory.

Aluminum foil's versatility was evident in the early 1940s. One Thanksgiving morning, the wife of a Reynolds executive asked him to find a turkey roasting pan. Figuring that he had little chance of finding a pan on a holiday, he instead offered her some aluminum foil that he just happened to have in his briefcase. He was carrying the foil in hopes of showing it to some customers at a large, commercial kitchen.

The turkey, roasted in aluminum foil, was delicious and Reynolds Metals began exploring kitchen uses. But, as the world crept toward the brink of World War II, America's aluminum industry was busily helping to develop new planes and ships for the nation's arsenal. It wasn't until the end of World War II that Reynolds was able to consider making aluminum foil for sale to the public.

"It wasn't easy selling a product that people had never seen, nor even imagined," said Charles Mapes, Reynolds' first Reynolds Wrap salesman and now a retired vice president of Reynolds Metals Company. "Our salesmen went door to door, urging people to try it. Of course, once they used it in the kitchen, they loved it."

Reynolds Wrap was first sold in the company's headquarters city of Richmond, Virginia. Soon, Reynolds Wrap spread to other cities on the East Coast, and it was about to be sold nationwide when another war interrupted the process.

In 1950, the onset of the Korean War once again created a huge demand for aluminum to supply America's military forces. Reynolds Metals made the decision to dedicate the majority of its aluminum production to these war needs, thus halting the expansion of its popular new product.

Demand for Reynolds Wrap had become so strong that the company knew it had to inform consumers about the shortage. In a series of magazine ads under the headline "Return Flight Guaranteed," Reynolds assured them that production of Reynolds Wrap would resume after the war. With the end of the Korean conflict, Reynolds Wrap was once again a priority and people began scooping it up to prepare and protect their families' meals.

Another milestone for the product came in 1976 when Reynolds opened The Reynolds Kitchens, a testing and development kitchen for recipes and other information. The test kitchen is run by Betty Morton and Pat Schweitzer, the home economists who are featured in Reynolds Wrap television and print advertising.

To mark the 50th anniversary of Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Foil and the impact it has had on the American kitchen, an early carton of the familiar foil has been donated to the Domestic Life Collection of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. The carton contains a 25-foot roll of standard Reynolds Wrap, the original size introduced in 1947.

What's next for Reynolds Wrap? The company is looking to bring the benefits of aluminum foil to new markets such as China, Russia and India.

SOURCE Reynolds Metals Company
 -0- 9/16/97


/CONTACT: Hank Amann of Amann Associates, 804-270-5400 or home: 804-355-5365; or Jamie DePasquale of Creamer Dickson Basford, 212-367-6891 or home: 201-941-3265/

(RLM)

CO: Reynolds Metals Company ST: Virginia IN: HOU MNG SU:

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Date:Sep 16, 1997
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