Cast iron skillet popularity soars; Starts in the Tennessee Vall - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Cast iron skillet popularity soars; Starts in the Tennessee Valley

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NBC News 

You see them at yard sales and tucked away in countless kitchens across America, often handed down from one generation to the next. 

Many cooks - both home and professional - still swear by them, while others are just discovering them. And that's a good thing for a company in the South that's been making cast iron skillets for more than a century.  

Dixie Freeze is famous for its home cookin'. Just off the main drag in South Pittsburg Tennessee, owner David Johnson taught us the finer points of making cornbread.  

"It's all in the skillet. So that's what it takes," said David Johnson, Dixie Freeze Owner.

Buttermilk and the right cornmeal are givens. It's the cast iron skillet he says that makes it special.  

Cast iron and cooking never went out of style in the South. But it seems the rest of America suddenly thinks cast iron is cool.   

Down the road at Lodge Cast Iron Cookware, they can't turn the pans out fast enough. In fact, they're making the plant bigger.  

"I've always known the wonders of cast iron, now the world's finding that out about it," said Bob Kellerman, Lodge Cast Iron Cookware.  

Bob Kellerman is the fourth generation of his family to make skillets.  He's got iron in his blood.  

"You can hand it down to your children, your grandchildren. It's like women and whiskey, it gets better with age," said Kellerman.  

Cast iron in its simplicity is the perfect friend of food.  It heats evenly.  Is great for dishes that go from stove top to oven.

Real cooks like Melinda Huffman can't live without it; especially, at the price. A pan sells for about 20 bucks.    

"You needa getcha some! you'll love it, said Melinda Huffman, Dixie Freeze cook.  

We met Melinda at the lodge store.  

"Cornbread. It's what I call my Tennessee classic and it is, it's the best," said Huffman.

Of that we have no doubts. Turns out Lodge is the last U.S. maker of cast iron cookware.    

"Had two competitors back in the 90's, but they fell by the wayside so we're the lone ranger now," said Kellerman.

Made in the U.S.A., built to last, affordable. It's a recipe for success.

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