From Too Many Chefs -

May 5, 2005
Getting "Handled" by Calphalon

For many years, I regarded Calphalon cookware as the best of the best. I'm sure much of my desire for Calphalon pots and pans came from their yuppie appeal like BMWs or iPods or Perrier. Eventually I came to recognize that Calphalon isn't the end-all be-all of cookware, but it's still a pretty good deal at a decent price when purchased in a set or when picking up individual promo pieces on sale.

After our wedding, when no wealthy benefactor came along and bought us the Calphalon non-stick commercial set, I went out and picked up a box of the cookware from Marshall Field's on sale with an additional 15% coupon. I don't remember exactly how much I paid, but it was pretty reasonable. I was happy. I had the "uber" cookware I'd wanted for so long and it didn't break the bank.

In short, I've been very happy with the pots until a month or so ago when I noted the nonstick coating was coming off on my most used pot, a 2 1/2 quart saucepan. I'd made some intense rice pudding and I think that finally did it in.

"No worries," I figured, "This set has a lifetime warranty. I'll ship it off and soon have a replacement." I shipped my saucepan off to Calphalon and waited. After about four weeks, I called and got a confirmation that a replacement pot would be shipping back to me shortly. "What great service," I thought!

Today I got the replacement, and I'm disappointed.

In my note accompanying the pot I noted that yes, they do say on their website that they may have to substitute a different line if the existing line is out of production, but if they had to substitue PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't send me one of the newfangled handles. I'd rather have a different sized pot than not have the commercial style handle.

Well the replacement arrived and it's the Calphalon One pot with the crappy new handle. Argh! There's a glass lid with this pot which I'm not a fan of, but I hadn't sent my original lid in, so that is a non-issue.

I called to complain and the woman at the returns center told me they are NO LONGER MAKING THE CALPHALON COMMERCIAL NON-STICK LINE. I want to emphasize that just in case someone can contradict that statement. She even had the gall to tell me they "upgraded" me to the Calphalon One pot.

Look, sweetie, just because it's a later model doesn't mean it's an "upgrade". Compare the 1967 Ford Mustang to the 1983 model if you have any questions about this principle.

So, yes, I got a replacement under warranty, and yes, I got a roughly equivalent pot (the C1 nonstick sells for $134 on Amazon, the Calphalon Commercial nonstick sells for $138), but no, I'm not a happy customer.

Do I just suck it up and use the pot and be unhappy with my "dream" cookware? That seems very dissatisfying. Do I pony up $138 on Amazon for a new pot? I can't really justify doing that financially. So I'm stuck.

Feh. I should have gone with All-Clad or Viking...

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at May 5, 2005 7:23 AM | TrackBack

Question: did they possibly discontinue that particluar line of professional non-stick pots because others had the same problem as you? If so, you can be glad they didn't replace with the same!

For myself, I like having a few really heavy pans but the majority of mine are Revereware copper-bottomed basic ones that were extremely reasonable and have held up well. Except for the one that I put on the lit hub to steam vegetables and forgot to put water in the pot, which did not do the copper layer any good at all. I still use it but I can tell that it's been seriously damaged and one of these days I really should replace it, my poor pot. Sniff, sniff.

Seriously, I like the Revereare a lot and aside from them have one cast-iron grill pan, one heavy omelette pan and a couple of Le Creuset stew pots. No Calphalon and have never missed it yet...

Posted by Meg in Paris on May 5, 2005 at 3:52 PM

I've used All-Clad cookware for a while, and I can say that they, too, eventually lose their coating -- and it depends on use. I don't know how long that Calphalon pot lasted you, but I got a few years into a nice All-Clad pot before it, too, begain to lose coating. Wear and tear is a matter of life, no matter what anyone claims it's eventually going to wear down in some way.

Also, if they did indeed discontinue the line, there's really nothing you can do about it, short of finding one elsewhere. It sucks, and I feel your pain because I, too, would want to have "my" pot back, but there's not much you or they could do about it. Unless they just lied to you, of course.

I'm curious what you don't like about the Calphalon One pot? I haven't used one, but I've seen them in stores and just refreshed my memory with a Google search, and they seem to be very well received in general...

Posted by Bean on May 7, 2005 at 2:31 PM

Many of my Calphalon pots bottoms warp after using them for a while. With a flat cooktop this meant I rarely used them because without solid contact they didn't heat well anymore. Now I have gas and it's not an issue.

I did have a friend buy a complete set of Calphalon last summer. Several of the pans have warped already.

Posted by tj on May 9, 2005 at 8:27 AM

Bean -

Yeah, I guess I hoped the coating would last longer than two years. I was thinking seven or ten or so by which time I will of course have the IDEAL kitchen (tm) and need new cookware to go with it.

I don't like the feel of the new handle - I'm sure the pot itself works well, but the handle feels thick in my hand like those OXO good grips that everyone loves so much but which feel to me somehow patronizing and inelegant. The Commercial handle is sleek and thin and has a nice soft ridge to put your thumb or finger in to control the pot.

It's entirely subjective, and I'm sure the C1 pot will perform well. I just want what I bought.

Posted by barrett on May 9, 2005 at 11:35 AM

Barrett -
I realize I'm a little late jumping in to comment on your post from May, but I read your story and had to respond. This is only my opinion BTW...I would venture to guess that the main reason you got the inferior replacement and uninformed customer service responses is because Calphalon is now part of the global conglomerate - Newell. It is no longer the high quality, consumer friendly company that Ron Kaspezak founded.

I feel qualified to say all of this because I was a retail department store buyer in the early 90's when Calphalon started to take over our cookware floor. Calphalon ultimately became the dominate player in cookware for a variety of factors one of which was superb customer service in every aspect of the business. Most of the staff at the headquarters in Maumee, OH had worked there during the "early days of the business" and understood Ron Kasperzak's quality standards. Most of the sales people and the service people in the stores knew Ron or were hired by those close to him.

In 90 or 91 (I don't remember), Ron died as Calphalon was positioned for the huge growth that they ultimately obtained. In early 1994, Calphalon introduced the first Calphalon Nonstick line. They did have some problems with the nonstick, but there were no "real" issues because an inferior product was always replaced by the retailer or through Calphalon.

As the business continued to grow more and more product was being produced overseas in an effort to make more products and get the cost down. In 1998, Calphalon was acquired by the Newell Corporation. Out with the old and in with the new as Newell put their mark on the company. Since that time, Calphalon is no longer upper end, top notch cookware sold exclusively at stores like Fields and Williams-Sonoma. Now, you can shop the 20 - 24 foot display of average quality Calphalon at Target. In addition, you will now most likely get average customer service when dealing with warranty issues. You are a prime example of this in action. The sad thing is that the woman you spoke to probably believed that line about upgrading you, but in the end your preferences didn't mean a thing! The corporate manual probably indicates what you are "entitled" to as a warranty customer and you were going to get that come ell or high water. The real issue is that no one really listened to what you said. You didn't want the the weird handle. That is your prerogative and no one listened to you.

Do you have a right to be upset - yes. Will Newell make it right for you? Maybe, if you send a nasty letter to the President and become a squeaky wheel. However, only you can decide if you have the time to do that AND at the end of the day you'll have to decide if it is worth it.

I am not a retail buyer any longer, but I am still involved with cookware. I found your posting because I was researching Calphalon online. I am interested in selling an old, original Calphalon au gratin pan that I found in our attic unopened in the original box with the original $94.00 ticket on it. During my search, I discovered that Calphalon is no longer making the "original" line. Then, I saw your posting. Forgive me for rambling on, but it is so frustrating to read about a consumer getting the shaft. They sold you a bill of goods "back then" and you have every right to be disappointed about how things turned out.

If you "want what you want" and you have right, I would suggest checking Ebay. When Calphalon stopped making your cookware, they probably took back new in box product from department stores to get the replacement line placed. Then the "returns" had to be sold someplace. You might find exactly what you want for a fraction of the original retail.

Good luck. Happy Cooking!

Posted by Dawn on October 27, 2005 at 10:36 PM

My oldest calphalon pot is flat and maybe 14 " x 3". I bought it in 1983 on sale for $80. It did eventually warp, I think from pouring cold white wine in a very hot pot. I took a hammer to the bottom and it is as flat as it was originally.
I threw out two saucepans that lost their finish inside, turned silver. I bought those on sale in Macy's , late 90's? Not the same as the original.

Posted by s. hayworth on November 23, 2005 at 11:19 PM

I too, have old(from the early 80's) professional Calphalon. The weight is wonderful, but the grey coating has worn off over the years(I know.. no tomato sauces, but it's too late). Now I am concerned about the aluminum. I have replaced my pots with s/s, but wonder if it's worth returning them to the company for replacement.

Posted by barbara on January 25, 2006 at 8:37 PM

Regarding a previous poster's comment that quality has degraded since Calphalon's acquisition by Newell, I would like to point out that one of the statements made was misleading. Newell did not make the decision to market Calphalon products at Target. That decision was made by Calphalon BEFORE the acquisition, and Newell chose to honor the agreement after aquisition.

Posted by James on January 30, 2006 at 10:51 AM

I would tell anyone to STAY AWAY. I have heard so much about Calphalon being the best nonstick pans and such. So I shelled out almost 400$ at Boston Store for the set, since I love to cook. I have had them now for 2 months. Everyday I cook with them EVERYTHING sticks. It doesnt matter if I use a table spoon of cooking oil or a cup. My food never turns out right and it sticks and chars. Honestly, I bought a Tephlon pan from Goodwill for 79c and it NEVER sticks and was a far better buy then the Calphalon. This was a bad 400$ investment.

Posted by Lomius on January 31, 2006 at 8:58 AM

I purchased my first Calphalon pan two months ago - the 7 quart Sauteuse - and it warped right away. Fortunately, Bed Bath & Beyond replaced it without question. I love the shape and the size. Is there anything I can do to keep this new one from warping?

Posted by Calphalon Sauteuse on March 12, 2006 at 8:33 AM

I have a set of Calphalon grey pans with stainless lids and handles that I got back in the late 80's. They are not coated with non-stick. They are heavy and still have the integrity of their form on the bottoms and there is no wear whatsover on the grey - and yes I have used them for tomato sauce on occasion. They actually look pretty much the way they did when I got them and they have been used a lot. I did initially have trouble with food sticking, but eventually something clicked and the issue stopped. I do not use them exclusively as I alternate with a set of Dansk acquired at the same time (wedding gifts) and aside from a few chips, the old Dansk pans are amazing. I've picked up a few other pans along the way, some Chantal, All Clad, Henkles, and an oversized T-Fal frying pan with lid but still always choose the Calphalon or Dansk. They've been great pans. The newer made stuff does not seem to have the weight or quality of the older stuff, though.

Posted by Sandra on April 22, 2006 at 7:39 PM

We had the same problem -- Calphalon II coating coming off on one of several pans we bought at the same time (but not as a set). They were all treated the same way -- hand washing, etc. Only one pan started coming apart. So, like you, we sent it back for a warranty replacement. Unlike you, however, we got the defective pan back with a letter accusing us if using caustic cleaning agents. This, of course, is nonsense. The pan has never seen the inside of a dishwasher. So much for Calphalon. I will never use their products again. Interestingly, the set of non-stick cookware we bought at Costco 10 years ago has never had a problem of any kind! If you are searching the web to find out what users think of Calphalon, I can tell you Calphalon sucks.

Posted by Dave C. on August 16, 2006 at 7:03 PM

Calphalon does suck. We have had two of their pans for two years. I think the "non-stick" worked for the first and second time we cooked with them. Ever since then, EVERYTHING sticks to the damn pan. It is a huge pain in the ass to clean. I cooked eggs this morning and the whole time I was cooking I was thinking, "Dude, this isn't worth it... you will be cleaning the pan for 30 minutes later tonight! Eat cereal instead!" Sure enough, the friggin eggs stuck so bad I had to use Soft Scrub to clean the pan. I hate the product. I'm ready to buy a 3 dollar Teflon coated pan from Big Lots and leave this expensive crap to gather dust.

Posted by Mike Bailey on April 11, 2007 at 5:37 PM

It is bad enough that they do not last like they say, but what scares me is how they deal with the issues and how they don't mention that the loss of surface ends up in your food. Where do you think the teflon goes when it comes off?

This is a comany after profits. Worry about your health and get some non aluminum, non teflon cookware asap.

Posted by astevens on January 21, 2008 at 4:59 PM

I just bought a Calphalon One Infused Anodized 12" frypan. I just attempted to cook some basic potatoes and eggs in it, and right now I want to scream. There is a thick layer of food glued to the cooking surface. And before anyone tells me that I didn't prep the pan correctly or whatever, I'll just say that no pan that costs this much should have this problem, even if I decided to make breakfast in the middle of the sun. Don't buy this crap - Calphalon is obviously a name-regognition brand that is now resting on the laurels of its glory days.

Posted by Bryan on March 22, 2008 at 2:54 PM

I have basically the entire set of Calphalon Commercial Nonstick, something like 25 pieces of it at least. I also have some regular hard anodized as well. I have had them for 6 or 7 years and they are great. Just now the fry pans are wearing out, I have four fry pans. I have only once had a problem and Calphalon replaced it immediately.

I will say this, I am not going to buy the Calphalon One brand to replace them. They do look like crap. I don't care how well they are received.

I'm going totally commercial, I'm going to buy from a restaurant supply store. I'm going to get the stuff chef's use. It's actually pretty reasonable.

Posted by Jason on January 15, 2009 at 8:30 AM

All the huss about Calphalon. I have many pieces of Calphalon and hav had no trouble. I buy either commercial or Calphalon one. I think Calphalon One has great handles. Remember the contemperary calphalon is a lesser greade. Stay with the good grade. And for the Moron that thought you cook potatoes and eggs in an ordinary Anodized pan and complain on sticking, you need to go back to cooking class. Use non stick MORON. And those that say Big lots non stick is better are peeps just writing here to be seen. Also if your good Calphalon warps, maybe next time you leave your pan on high, put someting in it! I dont even boil water on high. Again we have Non cooking morons that show you could make a pot out of Diamond and they would find a way to screw it up. Calphalon Cookwear is great as long as you get Comercial or Calphalon one. Most of the people that have problems I believe really need some lessons in the Kitchen.

Posted by Steve on February 15, 2009 at 1:38 PM

I find it humorous that this thread has gone on for over 5 years. In response to the original post, I too am infuriated with Calphalon's discontinuation and subsequent introductions of new series. In my opinion, the Commercial Nonstick line is the most superior cookware ever created and as a silver lining to it's scarce availability, the Tri-Ply Stainless line shares the same polished stainless handle design. So, combining the two as one collection actually provides some continuity and settles my obsessive need for collections to remain consistent. I find it hard for anyone, especially those who are die-hard All-Clad users, to prefer anything but the Calphalon Commercial Nonstick and now Tri-Ply Stainless. The ergonomic shape of the handle and lighter composition of the pans is a no brainer for any multitasking chef. Just walk into Macy's and see for yourself. The only thing that I find that All-Clad offers other than heavier and pricier cookware, are items that professionals don't even use thus trying to convince the average user they "complete a kitchen." My personal favorites are the Paella Pan and Butter Warmer.

As for the posts in this thread regarding the warping and quality of these pans I can offer one piece of advice: Read the Directions. Like anything of value, the better you take care of it, the more rewarding it will be. Calphalon has a lifetime warranty for a reason; Calphalon pans last a lifetime. It's disheartening that the company cannot offer exact replacements of some of their cookware should problems arise. It's come to the point where I've written lengthy complaints and they've provided me with nothing but scripted pleasantries and a list of the cookware I'm now finding it more and more impossible to find. To that end, they'll still keep "improving" their cookware and accompany it with even more unnerving handlebars, and I will continue to scour eBay for my missing pieces. To be fair, it's certainly possible that the new Unison Nonstick line is better than the Commercial Nonstick, but it's hideousness precludes me from conducting a test run. All-Clad LTD is definitely prettier, but the aforementioned reasons are enough for me to not even bother.

Posted by Baumann on October 25, 2009 at 4:45 PM

I love that set too. My husband insisted on replacing my Revereware set bought in the 70s with new fancy cookware, but at least he let me make the final decision. The only piece that needs replacing is the 12" omelette, which he's scratched up. Even though I saw and bought an eventual replacement - knowing ordinary nonstick and how much we'd use it - he'll be getting a Walmart replacement until he proves he knows how to treat nonstick and to never ever use a metal tool on it.
After we bought our set the production was moved to China, with predictable results. The Calphalon One line returned production to Ohio, so it might be an upgrade in quality - but I've heard the handles are not as nice looking, although they are more functional. I love the handles on my NS too - although the 12" omelette could've used a heftier handle or a helper handle when we cooked large amounts in it (often). I still loved it.
As for your saucepan, I got a Calphalon Commercial Hard Anodized saucepan and large stew type pan at Tuesday Morning and occasionally they still have some pieces available. Amazon has a few pieces as well. Just check them out and read the reviews on Amazon. They are not nonstick but almost, and great for browning. I have used them for everything you use a saucepot or stewpot for.

Posted by Kathy on January 9, 2010 at 3:36 PM

Christmas of 2007 I recieved my first set of Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick Cookware. I loved it until about a year ago. I haven't had problems with sticking or warping, but the lids have problems with the seal where the handle is attached at the top. Several months ago I was making fried chicken, and for whatever reason, it sounded like an explosion and the popping oil actually caused the lid to lift off the pan and landed on the side. The grease burned my arm and got all over my clothes--mainly scared me! I rarely have to cook anything at Medium usually less because these seem to need less heat to get the job done. I have always washed them by hand and used the Calphalon utensils with it but they seem to have a major flaw. They're not only dangerous, they don't perform as well. Today there was no problem with Bed Bath & Beyond honoring the warranty, but they are a much cheaper / less quality lid; It's awful! They don't fit my pans at all, so I thought they just accidentally gave me a lesser lid as a replacement, but after reading all these responses I hope this is not the best it gets. We'll see when I take these back and try to find ones that fit tomorrow...wish me luck?

Posted by Lorrie on November 9, 2010 at 6:31 PM

I just wanted to make a comment on how disappointed I am in my Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick. I have a ceramic glass electric stove top and I just got a new large pan. First use of it, it became warped. I was not, as one person implies a 'MORON'. Because I've had issues with pans warping, and thus needing to get a new one, I was very careful. I was using low heat (a 3 setting out of a 7) to fry bacon, the pan still warped after frying 6 pieces of bacon on Christmas morning. I'm very sad and will be sending my pan back for replacement, but now wondering what ever will I do with a new pan that I'm afraid to use.

I thought I'd read everything I could on what were good pans to use and how to take care of them, even then I've ruined them. I'm unhappy enough with my stove that I'm looking at replacing it with gas, cause no matter how much I spend on pans, they all are damaged.

Posted by Erin on December 27, 2010 at 9:51 AM

Between my Mom's and my own pans, we've found that her 70's Revere Ware (also mentioned by others in this forum) performed best. Good thing she bought several sets, because I burned one. I also loved a German enamel pot (I forgot the brand name, now very high-end and probably no longer made in Germany), which also lasted some 20 yrs until I burned it too. Both types of pot were also lightweight - I don't understand the recent trend with heavy pots (and now glass lids) - I don't need to strain myself while cooking or drop hot food someday when I'm not as strong.

All the modern stuff (other than the really good All-Clad that used to be made in the US) has some problem or another, and hasn't lasted as long; I used to love aluminum until I heard about the health danger (and that they can't be placed in the fridge).

There's a good market out there if only an American company - or Revere Ware - would go back to making things the way they used to!

Posted by terri on June 19, 2011 at 5:10 PM

I have to admit I'm still using most of the pots from the 1957 "knock-off" Farberware pots set I got for my wedding shower. They've been terrific - 54 years and still going. My favorite one just died though -- handle got loose. I also have my other's 1950's Revereware and it too works wonderfully well. Once again, I'll take the "good old days."

Posted by babs on August 21, 2011 at 1:17 PM

My hard anodized pot from the early 90s has lost its coating..calphalon will replace but I to pay for shipping on the old pot?? much for lifetime warranty is heavy so shipping will cost almost twice as much as new pot..All clad here I come

Posted by Bill on February 7, 2012 at 11:58 AM

I think this review is a little harsh, basing unhappiness on a handle style instead of the actual customer service.

I have to say I'm pleased with the Unison saute I just got as a replacement for a Commercial non-stick saute (3 qt). It's styled a little different, is a slightly different product, but they replaced it for free (after all of $8 to send in the original pan via UPS).

I suppose I understand some frustration over styling changes; and, yes, Newell has been rumored to have reduced the quality of the pans (however, Unison is NOT sold in Target). However, I was sent a new pan and have so far (2 months) been pleased with the result. I think it's a little unfair to rip the new pan solely on its handle construction, and then say it's poor customer service that caused that. It's the fact that the product lines have legitimately changed. You can't buy Calphalon One anymore, much less the Commercial I originally purchased.

Those who read this, try NOT to be so upset at this story. Calphalon is still a good product at a good price.

Posted by Dave on January 22, 2013 at 6:13 PM

La creuset reversible large (2-burner) cast iron grill is amazing for pancakes with just a little butter rubbed on the surface. Never used them for eggs but I would imagine they work well. I never have anything stick on them using minimal oil and cast iron cooks so evenly. Can't recommend this grill enough. It is spendy but I picked mine up for $100 on sale.

Posted by John on August 5, 2013 at 12:51 AM

the original review posted almost nine years ago now still holds. I have a set from the original Calphalon and they lasted 20 years until finally the anodizing began to come off. Good thick and tall pots that heated evenly and didn't need a raging flame to get to temperature. It was very expensive, but it's NOT commercial cookware, it's cookware designed to last forever and look good in a home. At least it was. The replacement 2 quart saucepan is a joke compared to the original product. Even taking into consideration the shortcomings of the original pots (handles would get scalding hot...needed that little leather cover) this new crap is just that, crap. Still banking on the reputation of the original cookware but putting out cheap Chinese (or wherever they can get it made cheaply and with few "rules") garbage that puts looks and profit ahead of function. Save money and buy your pots and pans a la cart.

Posted by Manny on September 30, 2013 at 10:03 AM