Thermos L.L.C.

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Thermos L.L.C.
Founded 1904 in Germany
Key people
Alex Huang, PhD (CEO) [1]
Owner Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation

Thermos L.L.C. is the leading manufacturer worldwide of insulated food and beverage containers and other consumer products. The original company was founded in Germany in 1904.[2] In 1989, the Thermos operating companies in Japan, U.K, Canada and Australia were acquired by Nippon Sanso K.K., which had developed the world's first stainless steel vacuum bottle in 1978,[3] before it renamed itself Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation, as which it remains known in the present day. Taiyo Nippon Sanso also acquired the original Thermos company in Germany.[3]

Thermos as a trademark[edit]

The word "thermos" is a genericized trademark used as a name for a vacuum flask.[4] From around 1910 till 1922, Thermos strove for this synonymity, as it was considered free advertising; the value of such advertising was estimated, in 1917, at between $3 and $4 million worth in American dollars alone. As the company and vacuum flask market grew, it became increasingly protective of its trademark, which it registered in 1923, following a narrow lawsuit victory over flask retailer W. T. Grant Company. Starting in 1935, Thermos employed a clipping service to find unauthorized usages and protested to dictionary editors who included "thermos." A 1940 internal memo said the definitions "undoubtedly would be cited against us in a lawsuit to defend the trademark. The best we can do is to try to 'purify' the definition of the word." Into the 1950s, Thermos continued its efforts to protect it, creating various products (tents, lanterns, campstoves) bearing the name to affirm it as a brand name, not an item.

In 1958, Aladdin Industries announced intent to sell "thermos bottles," and Thermos sued for infringement. In 1962, Judge Robert Anderson ruled that "thermos" was a generic term, due largely to Thermos's own publicization and lack of diligence in defending the trademark. Aladdin (or any company) could mark its bottles with a lowercase "thermos," while Thermos, then called The King-Seeley Thermos Company, retained the uppercase usage.[5]


Invented in 1892 by Sir James Dewar, a scientist at Oxford University, the "vacuum flask" was not manufactured for commercial use until 1904, when two German glass blowers, Reinhold Burger and Albert Aschenbrenner, formed Thermos GmbH. They held a contest to name the "vacuum flask" and a resident of Munich submitted "Thermos," which came from the Greek word therme, meaning "heat."

The thermos is commonly called the Dewar flask among chemists in recognition of its inventor, James Dewar. Dewar did not register a patent for his invention and it was subsequently patented by Thermos, to whom Dewar lost a court case in claiming the rights to the invention.[6]


The citizens of Norwich, Connecticut sought out the Thermos Company to build and operate a plant on the banks of the Thames River.[7] A group of citizens under the group "Norwich Boomers" rallied the community to purchase 27 acres of land for $750 an acre so that it could be used for the Thermos. The house of Dr. William H. Mason was also on the property, and it was also a part of the purchase.[7] The Italianate house was converted to be used as an office building.[8] Together, the citizens and the city raised $78,000. A contract was signed on February 14, 1912, it would make Norwich the home of the Thermos Plant and that Thermos would use Norwich's name on its advertising. Allyn L. Brown acted as attorney and provided counsel for the deal.[7] Thermos products produced in Norwich bear a stamp "Made in Norwich."[9]

The construction of the plant was a boon for Norwich, which helped the employment of the area after the decline of the textile industry.[9] The operations expanded into nearby Taftville, Connecticut and together the plants were active until they were phased out and shut down in 1988.[9][10] The Norwich site was listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.[11]


In 1955, The American Thermos Bottle Company acquired control of Hemp and Company, Inc. of Macomb, Illinois, manufacturers of the "Little Brown Jug" and other insulated jugs and chests as well as Duncan Hines outdoor grills. To reflect the growing diversity of products, the names of the North American companies were changed in 1956. The American Thermos Bottle Company became The American Thermos Products Company, and the Canadian Thermos Bottle Co. Ltd. changed its name to Canadian Thermos Products Limited.[12]

Historical importance[edit]

Thermos products made a major impact in the 1950s and sold over 2 million units.[citation needed] In 2004, the Smithsonian museum featured Thermos products as part of its "Taking America to Lunch" retrospective of lunch kits from the 1880s to the 1980s.[9]


  1. ^ "Cool Job: Thermos CEO Alex Huang". Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "About Thermos". Retrieved 30 December 2010. 
  3. ^ a b History of the Thermos Company Kitchen Kapers
  4. ^ 321 F.2d 577: King-Seeley Thermos Co. v. Aladdin Industries, Inc. (2d Cir. 1963)
  5. ^ Thermos Company profile, from
  6. ^ Frank A. J. L. James. "Dewar, James - BRITISH CHEMIST AND PHYSICIST". Advameg, Inc. Retrieved 30 December 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c Stanley, Bill (2 April 2000). "Norwich's Fortunes Ran Hot And Cold Until The Thermos Bottle Co. Arrived". The Day. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  8. ^ Dale S. Plummer (1989). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: American Thermos Bottle Company Laurel Hill Plant". National Park Service.  and accompanying photos
  9. ^ a b c d "National Museum Honors Thermos". The Day. 14 April 2004. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  10. ^ "1912: Thermos". The Day. 31 December 1999. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  11. ^ "Weekly Register List 1989" (PDF). National Park Service. Jul 28, 1989. p. 183. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  12. ^ "History of the Thermos Company". Kitchen Kapers. Retrieved May 21, 2014. 

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