Sterno - Fire in a Can
When I think of Sterno canned heat (a fuel made from denatured and jellied alcohol), I automatically think of my fondue pot from the 1970s. Had I ever been more extensively involved in foodservice or the type of camper who disdains the comforts of the Holiday Inn, I might be a little more familiar with the product.
So, in view of my limited exposure, it was interesting to come across this Sterno Cook Book (1927, 20 pages) and find out that Sterno had a lot more uses than merely heating up cooking oil or cheese for fondue.
According to the Sterno website, this handy, portable fuel source has been around for about 100 years. It was invented by S. Sternau & Co., a New York manufacturer of, among other things, chafing dishes and coffee percolators. Sterno, which is the brand name of the fuel, was used as the heat source for these appliances.
Below are some pictures taken from the cook book of some of the Sterno Corporation products in 1927:
Sterno Canned Heat: Just a few words about this wonderful fuel.
In order to use it, simply open the can and light the contents. A hot, blue
flame is given off. The fuel can be relighted so long as any contents remain in
the can. Small Size, 10 cents, Large Size, 25 cents.
Sterno Tea Kettle Outfit: Besides a delightfully dainty aluminum tea kettle this outfit includes a nickeled folding stand, a can of heat and a nickeled serving tray. For afternoon tea on the porch, for light breakfasts, for college girl spreads and thousands of other occasions this outfits serves as an attractive and efficient aid. Style No. 6051, Complete Set, $2.50.
Sterno Aluminum Cooking Set: For those who desire a complete outfit including a boiler, this item will be found to be just the thing. It is made with wire folding handles. The outfit also includes enameled folding stove and can of heat. Just the thing for quickly heating water, milk, broths, etc. Complete, 50 cents.
Sterno Sad Iron Outfit: For ironing dainty feminine things when emergency requires it, either at home or on vacation trip, this outfit is invaluable. Of course it takes up very little room when not in use. Besides the iron the set includes a nickled folding stand, a can of heat and a ring on which to rest the iron. Set, $1.00.
Sterno Toaster: Suitable for use on any Sterno Stove or stand, this toaster is especially made to give excellent results with Sterno Canned Heat. Quickly makes rich brown, crisp toast, free from any taste from the fuel. The handle folds back, permitting easy packing for traveling. Style No. 42, 25 cents.
Sterno Baby Milk Warmer: Practical milk warmer which heats milk in a jiffy. Can be used anywhere--in the home or while traveling. Finished in baby blue enamel, sturdily constructed. Can also be used as cooker or a stove. Syle No. 15 Complete, $1.00
Sterno Curling Iron Set: This compact outfit is ideal for the boudoir or while traveling. Set consists of curling iron with green enamel handles, folding stand to match, can of heat and extinguisher. Clean and efficient. Style No. 12 Complete, $35 cents.
Sterno Folding Stove: These are the real Sterno Cook Stoves. Substantial when set up, yet they fold flat as a pancake. These stoves are ideal for light cooking in the home, as well as for traveling and outdoor use. These two stoves accommodate both small and large sizes. No. 33, 1 Burner 25 cents; No. 46, 2 Burner 50 cents.
Sterno Vaporizer: This Sterno Vaporizer is a compact, quick-heating outfit consisting of Sterno Folding Stove, blue-enameled, non-corroding Vaporizer and Sterno Canned Heat. No Gas or Electricity Needed. $1.50
Living 50 miles inland from the Texas Gulf Coast, hurricanes and the possible ensuing tornados are more of a threat than earthquakes or ice storms. I was five years old when Hurricane Carla, a storm of Category 4 strength, came to town. My most vivid memory about that event was the fact that my mother had freshly brewed coffee despite the pounding rain, high winds and lack of power. I remember a clear glass, probably Pyrex, coffee pot, that I'm willing to bet was fueled by a can of Sterno.
It probably wouldn't hurt for me to invest in a Sterno Emergency Kit. Like my mother before me, I believe that any storm can be weathered as long as there's fresh coffee.