Understanding Foodservice Glassware Terminology

Marketing departments try to describe their products in the most enticing ways possible, but sometimes that leaves buyers wondering which descriptors actually mean something (if anything).

Mixed drinks in Anchor glasses

Image: The Anchor Hocking Company

When it comes to foodservice glassware, there are many branded terms, seals, and registered trademarks used to make one product sound more advantageous than another, but most manufacturers also use terminology that’s scientifically founded. The following terms are commonly used to describe commercial-quality drinking glasses. We’ve written out some non-scientific definitions that will help the next time you’re comparing products and shopping within a budget.

  • Annealing – controlled heating and cooling of glass that makes it more durable against cracking or shattering in response to temperature change. Annealed glass shatters into extremely sharp shards from very small to very large.
  • Heat-Strengthening – similar to tempering. Heat-strengthened glass is 2x as strong as annealed glass. Heat-strengthened glass breaks into shards that are less likely to shatter.
  • Rim-Tempering – applying the tempering process to only the rim of a drinking glass. Chips and cracks often begin at the rim, where a glass is most likely to endure shock. Rim-tempering offers added durability at a lower cost than a fully-tempered piece. Both Anchor and Cardinal refer to glassware treated in this way as “Rim-Tempered.”
  • Tempering – heating glass above its annealing point and cooling it rapidly. Tempered glass is up to 6x as strong as annealed glass. Tempered glass shatters somewhat uniformly into small, dull-edged piece. Cardinal refers to glassware treated this way as “Fully Tempered” and “Extra Resistant.” Libbey uses the term “heat-treated” for fully-tempered pieces and also for blown glass which is treated only along the top portion.
  • Toughening – see tempering.