Houseware innovatorSam Farber

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Farber had housewares in his blood: his uncle was Simon Farber, whose company Farberware makes high-quality cookware available at everyday prices. His father, Louis Farber, co-founded Farber Brothers, which makes serving ware. And Sam Farber himself started Copco, which made enameled ironware. He sold that company in 1982 and considered himself retired. While vacationing in the south of France, his wife was making an apple tart. Mrs. Farber had arthritis in her hands, and it hurt to use the vegetable peeler. Sam came up with an idea to make utensils easier to use, and found a tough but soft plastic polymer, Santoprene, to use as a comfortable handle. With his son John, the couple started a new company, which Sam called “OXO” because he thought looked good graphically, and “whether it’s horizontal, vertical, upside down or backwards, it always reads ‘OXO’.” The company’s “Good Grips” housewares debuted in 1990, and became a runaway hit. The company now makes more than 850 products, and the company grew at an average rate of 27 percent per year for its first 18 years. “It’s hard to think of a vegetable peeler as radical,” Farber said in 2000, “But I guess it was.” He died in East Meadow, N.Y., on June 16 after a fall. He was 88.

From This is True for 23 June 2013