Cast out of Monopoly, the clothes iron endures

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — When online voters nixed the clothes iron token from Hasbro’s Monopoly game, the appliance was held up as passe, as something your grandmother once used to ease the wrinkles out of linens and handkerchiefs.

“Despite being an integral part of life when the token was added to the game in the 1930s, the iron has fallen out of favor with today’s fans,” the Rhode Island-based company said in announcing its replacement — with a cat.

But even with the rise of wrinkle-free fabrics, the iron, it seems, is holding its own.

While U.S. iron sales declined in volume 1 percent last year, they were up nearly 3 percent overall from 2007 to 2012, according to the market research group Euromonitor International. Over the same period, steam generator irons — which make more steam than traditional ones, speeding up the process — experienced what the firm called “enormous growth.” Sales were $368 million last year.

Rowenta, a manufacturer of high-end irons whose U.S. headquarters is in West Orange, N.J., says the appliance is as relevant as ever.

The company, whose products have been used to keep wrinkles out of the clothing on “Project Runway,” is constantly updating technology to make ironing easier, faster and better for clothes, spokeswoman Michele Lupton says. Its regular models, ranging in price from $70 to $175, now include an “eco-friendly” one that uses less energy.

Hasbro nixed the iron after it got the fewest votes in a Facebook poll; it is being replaced with a cat. As a nod to its service, Rowenta plans to give away 10 board games with the iron token — along with a real iron — before the piece is discontinued. People will be asked to weigh in on Rowenta’s Facebook page with their “fondest” ironing memories.

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