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#USAMfgHour Tweetchat Recap: Made-in-America Mystery Hour

Posted by IndustrySelect on Thursday, April 28, 2022


This week, Kati McDermith, Brand Ambassador for MNI, hosted the #USAMfgHour chat on Twitter with a fun American-made mystery trivia theme.

A Wisconsin native with deep blue-collar roots, Kati approached this tweetchat with her signature passion for U.S. manufacturers and their history with the theme “Made-in-America Mystery: What in the Heck is This?”

From the South Dakota Badlands to #USAMfgHour: American Manufacturing History Come Alive

Kati and her husband KC visited the South Dakota Badlands last year, where she took a lot of photographs of manufacturers along the way (you can see her photo essay from her road trip here). During their trip, they stopped at the Four Mile Old West Town museum in Custer, a place that encourages visitors to “Experience yesterday in the old west.” There, they were immediately surrounded by a long history of American manufacturing, the museum full of historic American-made products.

But some items had them scratching their heads, saying: “What in the heck is this?”

Kati photographed some of these mysterious items and at today’s #USAMfgHour, rolled out some of the more puzzling items for today’s manufacturers to test their American-made knowledge.

The result was a fun hour full of surprises, insights, some truly funny moments, and possibly a new invention...?

But First, What in the Heck is #USAMfgHour?

#USAMfgHour is a one-hour live tweet event for manufacturers and those who support them and is a dedicated space for professionals in the industry to talk about the issues most impacting manufacturers, to network and connect and to share insights on the most pressing topics of the day. #USAMfgHour is hosted by a new company each week with a dedicated topic. The event is held every Thursday on Twitter from 1-2 CST and is accessible by searching the #USAMfgHour hashtag on Twitter.

Manufacturers Test their American-Made Knowledge

After introductions by the participants who shared what they do, Kati kicked off the chat with mystery item #1:


Said Ruby Rusine of Social Success Marketing, “No idea. But it looks like it was made before my time.” 

JD of Cleveland Deburring Machine Company ventured “Some type of kiln maybe."

“Looks like some kind of small forging kiln,” offered Paul Kiesche of Aviate Creative

Rebecca Prox from DSI/Dynamatic in Wisconsin said: “I’d say this may have ‘cooked’ something."

Nicole Donnelly from Donnelly Marketing Group in Virginia guessed “A water heater?

Adam Baker from Schooley Mitchell in Pennsylvania guessed: “Old School clothes washing tube?”

Dan Bigger of Optessa guessed: “A washing machine,” while Matt ventured “A very old cotton candy machine.”

Nigel T Packer from PelaTis Online in Wales, UK guessed “A stove, woodburning?”

The answer? This is a steam boiler / water boiler, made by the American Radiator Company. 

The American Radiator Company was established in 1892 by the merger of the Detroit Radiator Company, the Michigan Radiator & Iron Manufacturing Company, and the Pierce Steam Heating Company of Buffalo.

On to question #2:


Erin Courtenay of Earthling Interactive in Wisconsin guessed, “That’s definitely a shmoshnnoggle. I haven’t seen one in years.”

Dan Bigger: “Car jack?”

Paul Kiesche: Looks like one large vice clamp, but not exactly."

Adam Baker: “Something to make moonshine?’

Matt: “that is a very large adjustable wrench?”

Both Whitney Koch from Welker, Inc. in Texas and Emily from Obsidian Manufacturing Industries, Inc. in Illinois guessed some kind of jack.

Moonshine and smooshnoggles aside, most participants were correct!

The answer is a  mechanical jack:. This one was made by The Oliver Mfg co,  a third generation manufacturer in La Junta, Colorado. Established in 1930 by Oliver W. Steele,

for 90 years, Oliver has led the way with products for the seed, nut, coffee, recycling, lumber, and mining industries.

And then, something surprising happened when Courtney realized the product in the photo was manufactured by her family. She tweeted “ Holy Cow!!!!!!!! Those are my relatives! My maiden name is Oliver and that was my grandfather's family's company!! This is a crazy small world! look Dad @TimOliverPE


Wow, we weren't expecting that! What a small world indeed.

Ready for the next question?


Rebecca Prox from DSI/Dynamatic : “Oooh, I think that’s a beer pump…???”

Paul Kiesche: “It’s a press. But no idea what for.”

Whitney from Welker: “Guessing a large meat grinder.”

Dan Bigger: “Food mixer.”

Matt: “That is your classic St. Louis Wine Bottle Openier for a particularly rough Friday…In all seriousness it’s probably a device for opening/piercing large containers…maybe.”

Suzan, Buddy and Kirsten from DCSC guessed: “Some kind of press?’

Adam Baker “Cheese press?”

Ruby Rusine, Nicole Donnelly and Emily from Obsidian went with butter churn.

The answer?

This is a Cast Iron Sausage Press, made by The Simmons Hardware Co Inc, est. in 1874 in St Louis, MO. The company's stock consisted of ammunition, knives, mincers, wires, and even dog collars. They defined its products saying, "If you can't eat it, and it don't pour or fold, it's hardware".

Next up, what in the heck is this?


Dan Bigger guessed: “Printing Press?”

Whitney from Welker said “Don’t know what you would call it, but would you feed wet clothing through to wring it out? Clothes wringer?”

“Newsprint press?” offered Jim from Zero Surge.

Emily from Obsidian : Maybe some kind of printing press for paper?”

Rebecca Prox: “Maybe this was something used to make paper?"

Adam Baker: “This is tough - I'll go with clothes wringer.”

Nigel Packer: “It is an Adana letterpress. I haven't used it for some 40 years. I printed invitations for events with it. Made good money from it so was reluctant to get rid of it.”

Matt: “That is the world's first printing press/mechanical rocking chair combination, much to the chagrin of Johannes Gutenberg.”

Adam replied “I've heard of reading the paper in the rocker, but printing the paper in the rocker - next level ideas! To which Matt said “Make it so that the printing only works while rocking, then position it as an "eco-friendly printing press."

We love this idea.

Most here were correct! This printing press was made by Chandler & Price, Cleveland, Ohio. Established in 1881, they manufactured machinery for printers and assorted equipment. By the 1950s the offset printing industry had eclipsed the world of movable type printing, and only Chandler & Price continued to make open platen (Gordon) presses.

On to question 5:


Ruby Rusine: “It looks like something used by farmers. Or a bike for a farmer with a boom box that he can sit on.”

Dan Bigger of Optessa went with “Farming planter.”

Jim from Zero Surge guessed “For planting seeds - Grain Drill.”

Looks like a complicated machine for its day! How about a weeder? A farmer would run it through his early soils and pull up weeds,” ventured Rebecca Prox

“Is it some kind of field planter?” offered Emily from Obsidian.

Product Genius Technology and Val W also guessed seed planter.

Courtney from Earthling Interactive “Oh! that's the gooshnoggle that cranks up the smoshnoggle. very advanced for its time."

“The machine that drills a whole and drops in a seed, ” guessed Paulie Rose from RCF Technologies in Missouri

Nigel Packer quipped “Seed drill. Horse drawn. Yes I have used one of these once as well. Everyone here seems to think of then as antique tools, I have used quite a few UK versions of them in my youth.”

Matt said: “Yeah looks to be farm equipment. Or it's a really poorly designed, uncomfortable tricycle.”

Adam Baker: “Not sure of the name, but pretty sure the guy who used it was the first to outsource farm work! That looks like no fun at all!”

The answer? Not an uncomfortable tricycle, this is a grain drill, made by the American Seeding Machine Company.  Based in Springfield, Ohio, they were a manufacturer of seed drills & planting machinery in 1903.

In the late 1920s American Seeding merged with Oliver Chilled Plow Company, the Nichols and Shepard Company to become Oliver Corporation.

And for our last question...


Matt : “Looks to be an early cement mixer."

Dan Bigger also guessed cement mixer

Courtney with Earthling Interactive went in a different direction “Is that a twine twister?”

Emily from Obsidian: "Unsure on this one maybe some kind of mixer that can be dumped also?"

“A rice mill?” Ruby Rusine ventured.

Val Weber from Monofrax in New York guessed, “It's something that was once incredibly useful."

Cement mixer is correct! This one was made by Montgomery Ward, Monroe, WI, est. 1872. Montgomery Ward was the first ever mail-order business with an innovative single-sheet catalog offering 163 items & the buy now, pay later convenience of credit. 

The company's superior service and impressive assortment of goods led to rapid growth, and by 1904 Wards was mailing catalogs to three million customers 

About #USAMfgHour

Looking to network with U.S. manufacturers? #USAMfgHour is a weekly Tweetchat every Thursday on a different topic each week. Join in on a new conversation each week on Twitter using the hashtag #USAMfgHour between 1pm and 2pm CST. Share your insights, thoughts, news, accomplishments, events, and more with other manufacturers and supporters from throughout the country.

Are you interested in hosting a #USAMfgHour chat? Contact organizers @DanBiggerUsaMfg, @DCSCinc, @SocialSMktg and @Radwell_Intl

Whether you're looking to do business with manufactures of printing machinery, farm equipment, or uh, shmoshnnoggles, IndustrySelect has all the information you need to prospect in the manufacturing world, providing detailed business profiles of 400,000 manufacturers and one million exectutives. Built on MNI's 110 years of industry knowledge, there's no manufacturing mystery we haven't solved. Try out a free demo today!




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