10 Iconic American Products Still Made Here

PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- American consumers get pretty riled up about the price and value of their products, but few things unnerve this country's proud shoppers more than American products that aren't made here.

How do we know? Because we wrote about "American" products made elsewhere almost a full year ago and readers still keep writing in about it. They're plenty angry with brands such as Converse Chuck Taylors, Levi's Jeans, American Girl dolls and even Craftsman tools that aren't strictly "Made In The U.S.A." anymore. Still, the commenters are generally positive and just want to know what is American made.

We wrote about that, too, last summer, but emails and comments kept trickling in with more inquiries and suggestions. This only confirms a 2010 survey by Adweek Media and Harris, which found that 61% of Americans say they are more likely to buy a product when an ad says it's "Made in America." That includes 75% of Americans 55 and over, 66% of those 45 to 54 and 61% of those 35 to 44.

It also supports a 2011 study conducted by global management consulting firm Booz & Co. with the University of Michigan's Tauber Institute for Global Operations that found that U.S manufacturers make about 75% of the goods consumed in this country, but could make as much as 95% with help from business and government leaders. We scrolled through the inbox and pulled out 10 more examples of 10 American-made products looking to lead the way:

The Jeep Wrangler

The distant relative of the Willys MB, the original World War II military "Jeep," the Wrangler has been stretched out and beefed up a little in recent years. There's been a four-door model for half a decade and the sound bar on the roll cage has become as important a feature as the fog lamps and drop top. Yet even after a brief period in the late '80s and early '90s when it was being assembled in Canada, the Jeep has spent more than 20 years being put together in Toledo, Ohio. Even if you're the skeptical sort who likes knowing where every part of the vehicle comes from, Cars.com notes that the Wrangler is still one of the most head-to-toe American vehicles on the market. Its parent company may have been bought by Italy's Fiat, but 80% of the Wrangler's parts are still Made In The U.S.A.

John Deere (DE) farm equipment

Deere has been a bit of a bone of contention within the industry, as "American made" doesn't exactly apply to all of its products across the board. If you're interested in a lawn mower or smaller tractor from the company, chances are it or at least a bunch of its parts are coming from India or Germany. Need a sprayer? Deere's bringing it over from The Netherlands. If you need a combine, large tractor, graders, loaders, dump trucks or most of the other items John Deere makes, though, they're made right here in the U.S. Even small tractors aren't necessarily a foreign affair, as Deere's facilities in Augusta, Ga., still crank those out, too.

Intel (INTC) chips

Nearly a third of Oregon's labor force comes from manufacturing. That's just about the highest percentage in the country, and it owes a whole lot of the credit to Intel's factory just outside of Portland in Hillsboro. In fact, the Hillsboro plants and factories in California and Arizona produce more than 75% of the company's processors. Considering that 75% of Intel's processors then head overseas, Intel is doing its part to balance out the trade deficit a bit. It also seems to have convinced its overseas rivals that the U.S. is fertile ground for microprocessor production, as rival Samsung began producing its A5 chip for Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone and iPad at a factory in Austin in 2011.


Know those fairly indestructible kitchenware sets that used to be laden with ugly green flowers in the 1970s but have become clear must-haves for modern homes? It's been made here since 1915 and produced in Charleroi, Pa., since the 1940s. Though original parent company Corning has since relinquished it, current masters World Kitchen are based just outside of Chicago. It's estimated that 80% of American homes have at least one Pyrex product in their kitchens. Nearly as many homes have thanked the heavens for it after a quick soak helped their Pyrex cookware recover from an overcooked casserole or lasagna.

Post-It Notes

The Post-It note has been stuck to American office culture for 36 years, but remains one of the few American innovations still produced here. Invented by 3M ( MMM) employee Art Fry in 1974, the Post-it Note first hit stores as "Press 'n Peel" in 1977 before getting its soon-to-be genericized trademark in 1980. Though knockoff versions have been produced since 3M's patent expired in the 1990s, Post-It Notes themselves are still made at a plant in Cynthiana, Ky. As for 3M, the former Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company still calls Minnesota home.

Oreck vacuums

Minnesota made yet another contribution to the all-American marketplace back in 1963 when former RCA employee and future infomercial pitchman David Oreck acquired a patent for a lightweight vacuum cleaner from Whirlpool and began supplying those vacuums to hotels. Hotel staff loved them and Oreck figured out that it would be pretty easy to demonstrate the benefits of a lightweight vacuum by going on television between game shows and soap operas to lift his Oreck XL with one finger. The plan worked and the Oreck XL is still made in Cookeville, Tenn., to this day, just little more than an hour's drive away from Oreck headquarters in Nashville.


It's hard to believe it's only been 13 years since Sarah Blakely figured out that footless pantyhose could shape a person's most malleable bodily features to be as slim as they'd like. Blakely's Atlanta-based company has since grown to 125 employees and more than 200 products, but Spanx insists that most of its products are still made right here in the U.S. That includes the "In-Power" line that not only made Spanx famous but helped Blakely get the attention of Marquis Jet's chief executive, formerly known as this guy. Let this be a lesson: If the founder of a multimillion-dollar business hears you once told half of America to Shake It Like A While Girl, you're inviting as little shaking as possible once you're married.

Sub-Zero refrigerators

At the peak of the housing crisis and ensuing financial crisis, these five-figure fridges became curbside monuments to conspicuous spending. Don't blame Madison, Wis.-based Sub-Zero, though, as they used that questionable spending to keep 1,000 workers at plants in Madison, Phoenix, Ariz., and Richmond, Ky., employed through the whole mess. Also, it's not as if the company's founders sat in a college dorm one weekend and said "Hey, let's make oversized refrigerators for the nouveau riche." Founder Westye Bakke's invented the world's first free-standing freezer in the basement of his home in Madison in 1943. Two years later, he started Sub-Zero and led it to design premium, built-in refrigerators for the next 70 years. Not surprisingly, Sub-Zero bought cooking equipment manufacturer Wolf back in 2000. If Americans have seen Sub-Zero fridges up for auction at the neighbor's foreclosed McMansion, chances are an eight-burner Wolf stove was up for bid in the next lot.

Steinway Pianos

Steinway's grand pianos have been mass manufactured by hand in New York since 1853, but came to life in 1836 when cabinetmaker Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg built the first in his kitchen in Germany. He built nearly 500 in the next decade and, in 1850, used the proceeds to move his family to the U.S. In 1853, his family changed its name to Steinway, founded Steinway & Sons in a Manhattan loft on Varick Street and remained in the city ever since. Just remember the next time you see a great pianist sitting at a Steinway grand piano playing Chopin that they're playing one of the most beautiful pieces of cabinetry ever created.

Smith & Wesson handguns

As gun-obsessed as much of America has been of late, it may be a great time to point out the modern handgun got its start on these shores. Smith & Wesson ( SWHC) founders Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson first made their lever-action pistol for Volcanic Repeating Arms Co. In 1856, they left the cash-strapped company and created a cartridge-based model for their own firearms business. With the Civil War just around the corner and America's westward expansion yielding even more gunplay, business picked up in a hurry. By 1867 their revolvers were being sold around the world. Today, Smith and Wesson is the largest handgun maker on the planet, but is still based in Massachusetts. Much of its business is still conducted there and at its facilities in Maine and Tennessee.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.

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