Wisconsin's connections to the aluminum Christmas tree - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Wisconsin museum highlights aluminum trees


They're bright, shiny and rather untraditional. But the Evergleam Aluminum Christmas tree just might be Wisconsin's quintessential holiday decoration.

"This is a Wisconsin story. These are a Wisconsin product," Joe Kapler told Newsline 9.

Kapler is curator at the Wisconsin Historical Museum just in Madison. He's been busy wrapped up in the new exhibit "''Tis The Season." That's a display documenting the colorful trees produced in the Badger State from decades ago.

All of the artifacts on display were made by the Aluminum Speciality Company of Manitowoc. In the 1960's they were a top seller. More than one million were made in Wisconsin, with the company dominating more than half of the product's market share.

"They had access to an established network of markets coast to coast," Kapler said. "For decades they had seen selling aluminum products and goods, so they could get these trees out to more retail outfits quickly," he continued.

In the 1970's though Christmas decorating tastes had changed, and eventually Aluminum Speciality Company went out of business.

"What's left to tell the stories are the trees themselves and the product packaging, and as historians that's what we investigate," Kapler said.

Those stories, like the trees themselves illuminate fond memories.

''My parents had a tree like this for years," Alice Griffiths of Dodgeville said referencing an shiny aluminum tree at the display. "It's really fun to see them, all the different colors," she added.

Griffiths recalls the aluminum Christmas tree design growing up. And as the display shows, the re surging interest people have in their quirkiness.

An EBay search revealed to Griffiths a pink Evergleam aluminum tree with a going bid of $1,500.

"Pink is kind of a fan favorite," Kapler said. "It was the tree that was referenced in the 1965 Charlie Brown Christmas special," Kapler said.

From their place in pop culture to their history in Wisconsin, these colorful reminders of Christmas past are something you surely would not forget.

"No, you would not," Griffiths said smiling.

Have an Evergleam aluminum Christmas tree, or photos from your youth with an Evergleam included?  The Wisconsin Historical Museum would be interested in learning about your experience!  Contact curator Joe Kapler: joseph.kapler@wisconsinhistory.org.

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