Glasses so stylish you probably didn’t even know they’re indestructible, too

By Maryse Chevriere

France occupies a singular position in the culinary world, and for good reason. The master sauces? The kitchen brigade system? The Michelin Guide? Champagne? Canning? Camembert? We all owe the French a big, fat merci for these game-changing examples of ingenuity. And if you feel like you can’t decide just which is the biggest deal, don't forget this sleeper: Tempered glass.

Credit for this major discovery goes to Duralex, the company who introduced it in 1945. But the genius of these guys wasn’t just the lightbulb moment of “Check out this amazing, (nearly) unbreakable glass, imagine all the culinary implications.” They also recognized that form is as important as functio—and their simple, stylish, practical designs would go on to become icons of the home and commercial dining arena. Their tumblers have been described as the “ultimate drinking vessels created by man.”

If you’ve been to France or a French-inspired bistro—or any one of countless other restaurants, for that matter—you’ve no doubt enjoyed some wine or an aperitif from one of their glasses. The short, fluted “Picardie” and rounded “Gigogne” glasses are more or less emblematic of the French cafe experience. But their efficient, stackable design, drop-proof durability, and friendly price tag mean their products are equally at home, too.

Now their line includes not only an expanded glassware selection, from tumblers and cups to mugs and stemware, but also tableware and ovenware. It’s no wonder their reputation is as (nearly) unbreakable as their glass.

Word on the street

  • In a July 2016 piece around the time of the company’s 70th anniversary, Food & Wine called Duralex “iconic” and “the industry titans of the tempered tumbler.
  • Duralex’s iconic Gigone glass is in the permanent collection of Paris’ Museum of Decorative Arts.
  • According to the UK’s The Independent, the Duralex glass tumbler’s “elegant, conical shape has long been recognized as a design classic which screams ‘France’ just as much as the Eiffel Tower or a waiter in a long, white apron.
  • Home improvement magazine This Old House named Duralex’s OvenChef glass baking dish one of the best new home products in 2014 thanks to its ability to withstand extreme temperature swings without shattering.

Breaking the limits of tough glassware

Just how tough is this “unbreakable” glass? Marketed as two-and-a-half times stronger than ordinary glasses, Duralex’s creations are virtually unphased by extreme temperatures. Chill them in the freezer holding -4 degree F liquid, or blast them in a 226 degree F ride in the microwave, no sweat. And to the shock and surprise of no one, they’re also dishwasher safe. Of course, if you do somehow manage to break one, it will shatter into small blunt particles, minimizing potential injury.