Excerpts from the book "How Design Changed America" by Henry Keck
As important feature of the sugar shaker was the fact that in production its smooth contours could be
polished, prior to chrome plating, by machine. Polishing die cast parts by hand is a dirty, messy business. I have seen the masked faces of men in polishing lines covered with black polishing powder. Machine polishing not only saves money it enhances morale in plants where extensive polishing is required.
Even though the shaker appeared to be very simple in design it had subtleties that are hard to see. The chrome top looked as though it was a close fitting extension of the glass bottom but it was actually one thirty-second of an inch larger in diameter than the glass so that a user’s fingers would not slip off when lifting and pouring sugar. The salt and pepper shakers were a different matter. They were designed to match the contours of the sugar shaker. Salt is corrosive to die cast parts so the tops of these related product had to be made of stainless steel with a hidden threaded plastic insert to preserve the smooth outside appearance required.
The denouement of this story is that fifty years later the sugar shaker and its related products are still selling with many millions sold. The sugar shaker alone has sold more than twenty five million. A surprising sidelight of this story is that so many of the products were stolen for home use that some restaurants went back to the old ugly design.