by Andrew Page
One hundred years ago in Toledo, Ohio, a skilled glassblower and Libbey Glass plant superintendent, Michael Owens, perfected automated bottle-making process. His revolutionary machine forever changed the nature of glass production. As we learn in Quentin R. Scrabec Jr.'s new book (see Book Report on p. 16), what had been a hands-on event following teams of glassblowers became a mass-production process. Almost overnight, the glass bottle became a cheap and standard form of packaging. The industrialization of glass transformed the distribution of food and drink, the American diet, and perhaps most profoundly, our relationship to the glass vessel as an endlessly reproducible commodity.