Victorinox Swiss Army Continues the RH Forschner Legacy of Quality

History of Victorinox

Nearly two decades before American soldiers in the European trenches of World War II were introduced to the all-purpose tool they named the Swiss Army Knife, Victorinox teamed up with a New York-based butcher scales company called R.H. Forschner. That relationship developed into the company we know today as Victorinox Swiss Army, which provides some of the most trusted pieces of commercial cutlery around the world.

Early History

Richard H. Forschner had been patenting scales and scale parts as early as 1900, selling his inventions to butchers to weigh their products. To bolster the scale business, Forschner also marketed knives he imported from Germany.

As political tension leading up to World War II mounted, R.H. Forschner's German supply of cutlery was cut off. Representatives from the company went in search of a new supplier and approached Victorinox, which had been building a name for manufacturing and distributing quality cutlery all across Europe for more than 50 years. In 1937, Victorinox agreed to be the new supplier of cutlery to R.H. Forschner.

In 1957, when new owners acquired R.H. Forschner, they dropped out of the scales business completely and Victorinox knives became their only product offering. In the decades following its alliance with Victorinox, Forschner competed with other companies that also sold the Swiss cutlery, but in 1972, R.H. Forschner became the only company with rights to distribute Victorinox cutlery in the United States.

When Forschner became a publicly traded company in 1981, Victorinox owner Charles Elsener became a minority owner. In 1996, Forschner changed its name to Swiss Army Brands Inc., and in 2002 sold all its remaining shares to Victorinox.

Brand Unification

In 2011, Victorinox leaders made the decision to begin marketing all of their products under a unified brand: Victorinox Swiss Army. Nowadays, you'll see the RH Forschner name on many of the company's professional cook's tools, including turners and servers. Some companies still market the cutlery as Victorinox Forschner so chefs know they're still getting the same quality cutlery they came to depend on. Only the name has changed.

Victorinox now manufactures and sells a complete line of commercial cutlery under the Victorinox Swiss Army name, including:

  • Paring knives for precision control over peeling, slicing, and trimming all types of food, especially fruits and vegetables.
  • Chef's knives, the go-to tools that make quick work of chopping, mincing, dicing, and shredding.
  • Santoku knives, the Japanese version of the versatile cook's knife with characteristic indentations on the side of the blade that prevents food from sticking to it.
  • Bread knives with straight blades and scalloped edges that slice through soft products without crushing or tearing them.

Continuing the legacy of Forschner, Victorinox also produces dependable butcher tools.

  • Cimeter knives for separating and slicing large pieces of meat.
  • Breaking knives, which are smaller for more precision control, but also used for large pieces of meat.
  • Slicing knives, long and straight like a bread knife, but with a straight edge for making smooth cuts in meat and other tender foods.

References

Lavoie, Denise Sales Stay Sharp for Swiss Army Knife. Reading Eagle, September 7, 1992. p. D8

The History Behind the Victorinox and R.H. Forschner Brands. Accessed October 2015.

Victorinox AG History. Accessed October 2015.

Victorinox AG Company Profile. Accessed October 2015.

R.H. Forschner Spring Balance Patent. U.S. Patent No. 641,686. Patented Jan. 23, 1900. Accessed October 2015.