The aluminum Christmas tree was first mass-produced in 1959 by the Aluminum Specialty Company of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, USA, under the name Evergleamaluminum Christmas. It consisted of a pole and shiny aluminum branches with multiple angled holes drilled in the trunk, which could simply be inserted through the holes or easily removed for storage.
This Christmas tree, made of aluminum foil, was initially 2 to 7 feet in size and sold for $5 to $25. It is estimated that in 1959, Evergleam sold about 200,000 to 300,000 plants, and within the following years reached millions, known as the first non-green Christmas tree. This silvery aluminum tree was soon given more colors, including pink and gold, while its roots, in turn, took on a shiny green color. Because it has frilly edges, each aluminum branch has a reflection, thus bringing the most light reflection and more resembling a real glow.
In 1970, Earth Day was established in the United States and popular culture began to embrace a more nature-based philosophy. Aluminum trees were replaced with real trees or fake trees that more closely resemble natural trees. Today, it is recognized that buying a new tree every year, using it for a month or so, and then throwing it away may be more harmful to the environment. Aluminum trees can be used year after year without taking up natural resources and can even be recycled, so aluminum Christmas trees are back in vogue.
2019 coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Eternal Light Christmas Tree, and to celebrate the town of Manitowoc, the birthplace of the tree, all store windows display aluminum trees. The Wisconsin Historical Society Museum is also hosting the "Always Shining: 60 Years of the American Aluminum Christmas Tree" exhibit through Jan. 4, 2020. The exhibit features early aluminum Christmas trees, artifacts, classic movie clips, popular television commercials, newspaper headlines from 1959, and collectors looking for rare and preserved Christmas trees.
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