Episode 160: Teflon 

The Happy Pan

"Nothing sticks to 'happy pan,'" raves the bottom of this poster, the first ever advertisement for Teflon. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user trozzolo.

Teflon is never far from reach, whether you realize it or not. Beyond its best-known application—as a non-stick coating for pots and pans—Teflon is also found in everything from airplane parts to jacket fabrics. With concerns about the safety of Teflon exposure on the rise, today we give this ubiquitous material a closer look. First, producer Amy Kraft peruses CHF's oral history archives to learn about Teflon's origins—including its stint as a top military secret during WWII. Then Distillations' associate producer Michal Meyer sits down with our very own Bob Kenworthy to discuss his days marketing the material as a DuPont employee, as well as his interpretation of the risks of Teflon exposure.

Show Clock

00:00 Opening Credits
00:42 Introduction
01:24 The Origins of Teflon
08:46 Interview: Post-War Teflon
14:36 Closing Credits


Special thanks to Bob Kenworthy, Hilary Domush, Sarah Hunter-Lascoskie, and Amy Kraft for researching this show. 

Oral histories for Roy Plunkett and Malcolm Renfrew available on CHF's website.

Our theme music is composed by Andrew Chalfen. Music from the Free Music Archive includes Teki (with Les Gauchers Orchestra), by Lee Maddeford, Jackson Frederick Smith, by Jackson F. Smith, and Happiness Is, by Poddington Bear.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user trozzolo.

Posted In: History | Technology

comments powered by Disqus

By posting your comment, you agree to abide by CHF’s Comment Policies.

The Museum at CHF

The Museum at CHF

Explore the fascinating history of chemistry and the role science plays in the modern world at our museum in Philadelphia.


Distillations Magazine
Support CHF and receive our award-winning quarterly magazine.

Join the Conversation

Distillations Blog logo
Our blog brings the stories of science and culture directly to you.