Vitreous enamel, created by fusing powdered glass to a metal substrate in a firing process, started out artsy. The ancient Greeks covered metal with melted glass powders to create vibrant, multi-hued jewelry—golden rings have been found dating back to the 13th century BC. Later, the Byzantines developed plique-à-jour, a more refined, delicate process for creating art and jewelry with a stained glass aesthetic. (Cue Indiana Jones theme.)
The nascent beginnings of modern enamel cookware date back to mid-18th century Germany, when craftspeople began fusing glass to metal kitchen pots. The technique yielded the combined benefit of better tasting food and an easy-to-clean coating. At the end of the 1800s, a surge in demand in American households brought about new manufacturing processes and an updated aesthetic—the signature marbled, mottled, and speckled finishes common today.
Enamelware is now as popular as ever, but don’t call it a comeback. America’s first mass-produced kitchenware has throwback summer camp vibes and modern good looks with time-tested staying power.