Sam Farber

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Samuel "Sam" Farber (November 16, 1924 – June 16, 2013) was an American industrial designer and businessman.

Farber and his son, John Farber, co-founded OXO, a manufacturer of kitchen utensils and housewares.[1][2] Farber is credited with revolutionizing the kitchen utensil industry by developing and introducing a line of utensils with plastic-coated black handles through OXO.[1] While more expensive than traditional utensils, the new soft, black handled utensils proved to be a success with consumers.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Sam Farber was born on November 16, 1924, in New York City, though he was raised in nearby Yonkers, New York.[2] His father, Louis Farber, established Farber Brothers, which sold serving ware.[citation needed] His uncle, Simon Farber, founded Farberware, which manufactures kitchen appliances and cookware.[1]

Farber served in North Africa and Turkey during World War II as a member of the Army Air Forces.[1] He received a bachelor's degree in economics from Harvard University in 1946.[1]



In 1960, Farber founded Copco, which manufactured enamel-coated, cast iron cookware.[1] He sold Copco in 1982, largely retiring from the industry at the time of the sale.[1]


Farber founded OXO as a result of improvements he made to an everyday vegetable peeler.[1] While vacationing in a rented home in southern France, his wife, Betsy Farber, who suffered from arthritis, was trying to peel apples, which proved difficult using a peeler with a standard design.[1][2] The difficulties presented by available peelers (and their handles) sparked an idea for Sam. He and his son, John, soon hired Smart Design, an industrial design firm based in New York City,[1] with which they created a new product line of kitchen utensils fitted with soft plastic-coated black handles, which made them easier to hold and utilize than other utensils.[1]

Farber unveiled the new line at the Gourmet Products Show in San Francisco, California, in 1990.[2] Sam Farber named his company "OXO" for its "backward, upside-down and vertical graphic symmetry."[2] Farber's OXO products were more expensive than competitors', but the line proved a hit with consumers, who were willing to pay more for the new, easier-to-use utensils.[1][2]

The Farber family sold OXO to General Housewares Corporation in 1992. OXO is currently owned by Helen of Troy Limited, as of 2013.[1]

Mario Batali products[edit]

Sam and John Farber later created a line of products sold by chef Mario Batali.[1]


An art collector, Farber served on the board of directors for the American Folk Art Museum in Manhattan.[1]

Personal life[edit]

He was a longtime resident of Manhattan but lived in Lexington, Massachusetts, during his later years.[2]


Sam Farber died in East Meadow, New York of complications from a fall on June 16, 2013, at the age of 88.[1] He was survived? by his second wife, Betsey Wells Kriegsman, whom he married in 1985; his two sons from his first marriage, John Farber and Thomas Farber; two stepchildren, Mark Kriegsman and Sue Kriegsman; four granddaughters; and three step-granddaughters.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Samuel Farber, developer of kitchen utensils, dies at 88". United Press International. June 22, 2013. Retrieved July 6, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Fox, Margalit (June 21, 2013). "Sam Farber, Creator of Oxo Utensils, Dies at 88". The New York Times. Retrieved July 6, 2013.