Products That Are Still Made the Same Way After All These Years


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In a world full of factories, automation, and conveyor belts, many people have decided that they must settle for hastily assembled goods manufactured without the human touch. Some may even assume this is their only choice, and products made lovingly by hand, one at a time, have gone largely extinct.


While it’s true that handcrafted goods made in the old-fashioned way by human hands may carry a higher price tag than factory-assembled stuff, those products tend to ultimately pay off in the long run because they last longer. The quality, craftsmanship, and connection to tradition make them more beloved than something you can buy at Costco. Here’s our list of a few of them – while almost all of them can be made and purchased cheaply, the real thing is still out there for more discriminating consumers.

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1. Cast-Iron Skillet

While you can buy cheap pots and pans anywhere for low prices, those products don’t last forever and may not give you the desired results. Meanwhile, The cast-iron skillet will always produce delicious results, partly due to its seasoning. These cooking tools not only last a long time – indeed, you may have some in your home initially owned by your grandmother –they’re still made via the same method of pouring molten iron into molds and hand-finishing them. Accept no substitutes!

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2. Soap

Yes, you can certainly buy all the bars of generic soap you want at Dollar General for 99 cents a pop, and it will get the job done, yet it may fill you with an emptiness, a longing, and a yearning to be clean in a more natural way. This is where artisanal soap comes in. Most of the people making this kind of soap use the hot process method in which the materials are heated in a kettle and poured into molds, while others use the cold process with a procedure known as

“superfatting.” It’s even possible for individual soap makers to produce bars of the antibacterial stuff by using such compounds as triclosan or triclocarban. So, contrary to what the 1999 movie “Fight Club” depicts, you can make your own soap without dumpster-diving behind a liposuction clinic.

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3. Cheese

People, you can do much better than sliced and shrink-wrapped American cheese if you choose to, and you can do exponentially better than Velveeta if you’re craving cheese. The cost may be a little higher, but cheeses made via the old-school natural processes are worth the extra cost, not just because there are fewer chemicals and additives than those found in mass-manufactured cheeses but also because they taste better. Every type of cheese takes a different process to be manufactured, so what you would do to make your own feta will be different from the technique you use to make mozzarella, but either way, it will taste less like chemicals and more like food.

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4. Textiles

Textile manufacturing is a huge industry based on converting fiber into yarn, which then becomes fabric. That fabric, in turn, becomes the Def Leppard “Hysteria” tour t-shirt you wear on weekends while vacuuming. Much of this stuff is now mass-produced, but skilled artisans still use looms to weave such fabrics as cotton, silk, and wool. Those handmade products may take longer to produce due to how labor-intensive they are, but if sweatshop labor is offensive to you, don’t buy your goods from the 99-cent store – you can get the real thing made by individual craftspeople.

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5. Bread

For reasons that are as yet still unknown, many people’s first response to the COVID-19 pandemic was to start making sourdough bread. Sure, essential services could still furnish it, but many people made their own, using traditional methods like sourdough fermentation and hand-shaping. Many people may have thrown their beloved sourdough starter in the dumpster when the pandemic ended and returned to the mass-produced stuff, but a lesson had been learned – the real thing, made by hand, is much better, and making it yourself is well within the parameters of what people with no culinary training can do.

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6. Paper

Making one’s own paper didn’t become a fad during the COVID-19 pandemic, but as with sourdough bread, it’s something that people still make by hand and create a more durable product in the process. While no one is making 500-sheet reams of laser printer paper, artisans making their own stationery, greeting cards, and visual art will still use age-old methods to create paper, such as pulp beating and sheet forming.

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7. Glassware

Anyone who’s been to IKEA knows that you can get a dozen identical, mass-produced drinking glasses for a meager price, and the quality is certainly good enough that they can contain liquids without a problem and won’t spontaneously shatter in your hand. If your bar is set a little higher than that, you can still buy glassware made by glassblowers, who create these items by shaping the molten stuff with nothing but their lungs, a very hot kiln, and various tools.

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8. Herbal Remedies

Some people don’t trust pharmaceutical companies or traditional Western medicine at all, and sometimes, when you get an outrageous bill for some “legitimate” medical treatment, the sticker shock might cause you to consider the world of herbal medicine the next time something health-related comes up. Herbalists continue to use decoction to create tinctures, and a lot of that stuff really works. Naturally, it has limits, so if you get hit by a car, pass on the tinctures and go to the hospital.

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9. Pasta

Some people who got tired of making sourdough bread during the pandemic gave up on cooking and began to rely on DoorDash for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Those who got tired of the bread but not the home preparation moved on to making other foods that may be widely available at the supermarket but can be made at home by hand. One of these foods was pasta, and while people were already making it by hand before and after March 2020, there’s nothing like the handmade stuff, involving the rolling and shaping of dough. This type of pasta is widely available at grocery stores, too, but many people enjoy making it themselves.

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10. Beer

Making one’s own beer has been a popular hobby for a long time, resulting in the trend of craft brewers making small runs of their own concoctions. The advantage of the small runs is that they can result in interesting, uncommon flavors that are way beyond anything you would get from a can of Bud Light. These craft brewers use such traditional methods as boiling, fermenting, and mashing to create their beers. While they’re unlikely to put Anheuser-Busch out of business, many beer drinkers swear by some of the IPAs made by independent manufacturers who are making their concoctions the old-fashioned way.

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11. Musical Instruments

While it’s likely that there will never be a homemade synthesizer, many musical instruments have a long tradition of being meticulously made by hand by skilled artisans. People who build guitars by hand are known as luthiers, and some of their work has resulted in one-of-a-kind instruments that have supported entire careers, such as that of Queen’s Brian May, who built his own guitar alongside his father out of wood from their home’s fireplace mantel. It gave him an utterly unique and instantly identifiable sound, and he still plays it today.

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