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Start Your Business Success Stories

13 Iconic Brands Still Made in America

13 Iconic Brands Still Made in America
Credit: karen roach/Shutterstock

These days it seems like every product we buy has been outsourced to a foreign country for manufacturing, but not every company has taken the plunge — some American brands still keep all (or at least the vast majority) of their manufacturing operations in the United States.

There are plenty of smaller brands and businesses that are entirely U.S.-based, but it may come as a surprise to learn that some of the most well-known brands in America, like Duraflame, Crayola and even Gibson guitars, are all still made or assembled here.

Here are 13 iconic brands and products that are still manufactured in the USA.

Headquarters: Stockton, California

If you've ever had a barbecue or a bonfire, then you probably recognize Duraflame. The company, which started in 1986 in Stockton, California, manufactures fire logs, fire starters and other barbecue products. The Duraflame fire log was first created as a project by the California Cedar Products Co., a pencil manufacturer, in an attempt to recycle leftover sawdust. In 1972, the company started selling them, and in 1986 Duraflame became its own corporation. Today, the company is still headquartered in Stockton, has two manufacturing facilities in Kentucky and California and employs 250 workers. 

Headquarters: St. Paul, Minnesota

The Post-it Notes we know and love today were invented in 1977 by Dr. Spencer Silver as he was researching adhesives for the brand's parent company, 3M. Silver discovered an adhesive that was effectively sticky but could also peel off easily, though he didn't know what purpose it could serve. Fellow scientist Art Fry figured out a good use for it when he realized it could be used to keep bookmarks from falling out of his church hymn book, and the rest was history. 3M, headquartered in St. Paul, owns many different brands around the globe, covering everything from electronics and industrial materials to health care and safety and security products, but Post-it Notes are still made in the company's Cynthiana, Kentucky, facility.

Headquarters: Springfield, Massachusetts

"You've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?" With those words uttered by Clint Eastwood as he held a .44 Magnum revolver in "Dirty Harry," a legendary American company became an icon. Started in 1852 by Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson, Smith & Wesson grew out of the factories of Springfield into the largest manufacturer of handguns in the United States. The company still produces its firearms in Springfield, but it also has facilities in Maine and Tennessee, and has expanded into the manufacture of handcuffs, knives, tools and tactical law enforcement footwear.

Headquarters: Hershey, Pennsylvania

Around the turn of the 20th century, Milton Snavely Hershey began experimenting with candy manufacturing. After two unsuccessful business ventures, he found success with the Lancaster Caramel Co., but Hershey's true interest was chocolate, so he sold his caramel company in 1900. He crafted the first Hershey's chocolate bar soon afterward. The Hershey Co. makes candy at locations in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Illinois, along with a facility in Guadalajara, Mexico. The main facility and headquarters remains, however, in the section of Derry, Pennsylvania, that has long been called Hershey, the self-described "Sweetest Place on Earth." There, visitors can enjoy an amusement park and tour the Hershey factory. 

Headquarters: Shelton, Connecticut

It may not be considered the national pastime, but since the early 1950s Wiffle Ball has been an American staple. Started in 1953 by David N. Mullany, Wiffle Ball Inc. has changed very little since it released its original products, which were Mullany's way of safeguarding his son's pitching arm from injury. Interestingly, the Wiffle Ball bat and ball still have the same dimensions as when they were first sold, and there's the same artwork on the box. And the company still manufacturers its products in Shelton.

Headquarters: Ada, Ohio

Since 1941, Wilson has made every football used in NFL games, including every Super Bowl. In 1955, the company opened the Wilson Football Factory in Ada, Ohio. Wilson says on its website that it opened the factory "to ensure that Wilson footballs would not only be American-made, but the highest-quality footballs ever produced." Today the factory in the small town of Ada, located 80 miles from Columbus, produces 4,000 footballs a day (700,000 footballs a year!) It remains the only factory dedicated to footballs in the world, employing 120 employees.

Wilson also acquired Louisville Slugger, another American-made company dating back to 1880, in April 2015. Part of the deal was that the iconic baseball bats would continue to be made in the brand's downtown Louisville factory.

Headquarters: Nashville, Tennessee

Before anyone could have conceived of rock 'n' roll, luthier Orville Gibson was starting the company that would produce the genre's signature item, the electric guitar. (Luthiers make lutes or other stringed instruments.) The company was founded in 1902 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and released its first electric guitar in 1936. After the original Kalamazoo plant closed in 1984, Gibsonwas moved its world headquarters, fittingly, to "Music City": Nashville. Gibson makes its electric guitars there, while its acoustic guitars are manufactured in Bozeman, Montana. Gibson also has a factory in Memphis, and all three of the company's facilities offer tours. From its humble beginnings Gibson has grown to be an icon in the music industry, with artists like Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney using its products.

Headquarters: Canton, Michigan

For Richard James, all it took was a chance occurrence to launch one of the most successful toys in history. James, a naval engineer, was conducting an experiment with tension springs when one fell to the floor and began to move oddly. James thought that with the right amount of tension, the spring could "walk." After bringing the idea home, he and his wife, Betty, came up with the name Slinky for the toy and launched it at Gimbel's department store in Philadelphia in 1945. They were unsure of how the toy would sell, but the first 400 sold out within 90 minutes, and the rest is history. The Slinky is still manufactured at the company's Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania facility, though it is now owned by toy company Alex Brands, headquartered in Canton. 

Headquarters: Easton, Pennsylvania

In 1903, Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith created the first box of Crayola crayons — it had eight colors and sold for a mere 5 cents at the time. Since then, many colors have been added to the lineup and the company has expanded into other products, including markers and colored pencils. The company, now a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, hasn't moved far from its original production center in Pennsylvania, continuing to manufacture its popular crayons in Easton and also in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Crayola also has plants in Mexico City that handle its overseas operations, and employs more than 1,200 employees worldwide.

Headquarters: Milwaukee

For the past century, the Harley-Davidson name has been linked with motorcycles. The company grew out of a wooden shed in Milwaukee, where childhood friends Arthur Davidson and William S. Harley began to experiment with a combustion engine that would fit into a bicycle. The pair sold their first motorcycle in 1903. More than 100 years later, Harley-Davidson headquarters is still in Milwaukee. The company has two other Wisconsin factories, in Tomahawk and Menomonee Falls, plus factories in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Ohio and elsewhere. Although many parts are made in other countries, all Harley-Davidson bikes are assembled in the U.S. plants.

Headquarters: Greenville, Ohio

Since the first stand mixer was born in 1919, the Kitchenaid brand has grown into a leader in the appliance industry. In the following decades, Kitchenaid expanded into many popular products, such as dishwashers, refrigerators and blenders. All Kitchenaid mixers are still assembled in Greenville, though information on where all of the parts are actually made is not readily available on the company's website. The Greenville factory employs hundreds of people and can process up to 7,000 units a day, and you can even tour the facilities to see what the manufacturing process is like. 

Headquarters: Jackson Center, Ohio

It was on a camping trip that Wally Byam got the idea to start the Airstream Trailer Co. Byam had bought an old Model T chassis and built a tent on it, but it was an uncomfortable and time-consuming process. Byam then thought of building a tear-shaped aluminum shelter with an ice box and small stove in it, and the first Airstream was soon created in Byam's Los Angeles backyard. Soon after, the Airstream Trailer Co. began producing its early trailer, the Torpedo Car Cruiser. By 1932, the company had sold more than 1,000 Torpedo Car Cruisers. Airstream has been producing its trailers in Jackson Center, Ohio, since 1952. The company manufacturers about 1,000 motor homes a year.

Headquarters: Bradford, Pennsylvania

George G. Blaisdell, Zippo's founder, started making lighters in 1932 based on an Austrian lighter design. Since then, Zippo lighters have become iconic collectible items, with more than 4 million collectors in the United States. On June 5, 2012, the company produced its 500 millionth lighter. In the more than 80 years since starting, Zippo has become one of the most recognizable brands in the world, with its lighters being sold in more than 160 countries. They also have appeared in more than 1,500 movies, the company says. Today George Duke, Blaisdell's grandson, owns Zippo along with the Case Cutlery Co., acquired in 1994, and the Ronson brand of lighters and fuel, acquired in 2010. The company employs almost 800 people in its Pennsylvania factories.

Business News Daily social media specialist Dave Mielach also contributed to this story.