Essential Tools

3 Little-Known Facts About Peugeot & Their Iconic Pepper Mills

July 18, 2016

It hardly matters what's being served (simply dressed greens, strawberries and cold whipping cream, cardboard)—top a plate or bowl with freshly cracked black pepper from a proper grinder and it will take on an air of sophistication. Become something to sit down to. Wine might appear on cue.

And when you picture such a showering, the grinder you'll inevitably envision will have a bulbous noggin, a series of protruding curves down its sides, the sheen of silver or glossy white paint or the heft of old wood. What you're picturing is a Peugeot.

Peugeot's Paris Chef USelect pepper mills in white, new in our Shop. Photo by Bobbi Lin

In honor of the fact that we just launched six of Peugeot's iconic pepper grinders in our Shop—Paris Chef USelect mills (their iconic silhouette) in brushed stainless steel, wood, black, and white; small silver-plated replicas of their very first pepper mills; and a hand-cranked grinder named for the Michelin-starred chef Olivier Roellinger—we decided to bring you some snippets from the history of these designs.

Here are 3 things you probably didn't know about Peugeot and their iconic pepper mills.

Early advertisements for Peugeot's pepper mills and coffee grinders. Photo by Peugeot

1. Peugeot wasn't founded as an automotive company.

In 1810, brothers Jean-Pierre and Jean-Frederic Peugeot converted the family flour mill into a steel foundry, dubbing the new business with their surname. The teeth on their saw blades were individually cut before the whole blade was case-hardened, making them stronger and more long-lasting than competitors' saws—a technology that won the company early accolades.

Peugeot's "Modèle Z," 1874. Photo by Peugeot

By 1840, Peugeot was manufacturing coffee grinders using advances in the same technology, and in 1874 their first pepper grinder—the Z model—was put on the market. Our silver-plated Peugeots are replicas of this early design, and have a surprising heft despite their small stature. (The first Peugeot automobile, the type 3, didn't come on the scene until 1891 when it became the first car to be driven in Italy.)

2. Peugeot's first pepper grinder could have been the first pepper grinder ever.

Before 1874, the year Peugeot introduced the Modèle Z, people ground pepper using a coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle. And while Peugeot doesn't claim that they were the first to invent a pepper mill—"there's no proof of that," their brand manager Marie admits openly—it's commonly assumed and insinuated (such as here, here, and here) because that's the precise moment the devices started hitting the market.

Peugeot's super classic designs have stood the test of time—two are new in our Shop.

3. The company's lion logo references the might of their grinders, not their engines.

Perhaps more famous for being emblazoned on Peugeot's automobiles, which have a certain feline characteristic to their shape, than on their tabletop tools, the Peugeot lion was designed with their famous grinder in mind. A lion's jaws symbolize "the durability, the innovation, the speed, [and] the superiority" of Peugeot's grinder mechanism, according to Marie, which cracks open a peppercorn using two rows of teeth configured in a helix shape.

Photo by Peugeot

The lion was first developed for Peugeot in 1850, trademarked in 1958, and has been through a series of modernizations to bring it to its currently slinky, prowling state. Their grinder technology and the breadth of offered pepper mill silhouettes has likewise progressed: Peugeot's curvaceous "Paris" pepper mill—the one you picture from that vision of a French restaurant—was introduced in 1987, and in 2004 that they invented a system that would allow you to adjust the coarseness (or fineness) of the grind, called "U'Select."

Four different finishes on our new Paris U'Select Pepper Mills.

So when I say that We've just launched six different Peugeot pepper mills in our Shop!, I'm not implying that they're newfangled in any way—quite the opposite. Perfected and honed over the better part of a century, the parts that make Peugeot's pepper mills so beloved are a blend of original award-winning designs, modern tastes, and decades of innovation. And they come with a lifetime guarantee, so it's not as if you'll ever need another!

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Top Comment:
“It is Peugeot Depose light brown wood and the top actually is slightly concave. I cannot find the same anywhere online. I think it must be one of the first made. Any ideas? Thanks Sara”
— Sara B.

Do you have a Peugeot pepper grinder? If yes, tell us what you love about it in the comments!

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Amanda Sims

Written by: Amanda Sims

Professional trespasser.


Sara B. May 6, 2019
We have a pepper mill in the family which has passed down from my French grandmother. It is Peugeot Depose light brown wood and the top actually is slightly concave. I cannot find the same anywhere online. I think it must be one of the first made. Any ideas? Thanks Sara
John August 14, 2017
Have used my Perfex for about 50 years...did not know of a better. Your evaluation?
Wende July 19, 2016
I love pepper so much that my husband gave me a tiny travel pepper mill to take to restaurants in the days before they routinely offered freshly ground pepper at the table. So, yes, I necessarily also have a Peugeot. It is a 30-year-old wooden one and is the first pepper mill I ever bought - a huge outlay for a college student, but a purchase that has outlasted any of the other mills that ever caught my eye.
My Peugeot has been there for every success, failure, holiday dinner, and family celebration and has looked perfect in every kitchen I ever had, from an old farmhouse-y one to an ultra-contemporary one and everything in between. Like Le Creuset pans, Peugeot mills are a lifetime purchase. I never knew what a true bargain I was getting when I bought mine!
Greenstuff July 18, 2016
Yes, I do have a Peugeot. I have long preferred my Unicorns made on Nantucket Island.

So much so that I've wondered what I'm missing--hope you'll all let me know.
702551 July 18, 2016
I like wood more than plastic.

But that's just me...
HailstonesinAfrica July 18, 2016
After 28 years in the restaurant industry I can unequivocally state that if it doesn't say Peugeot on the grinding mechanism then I will never buy it; it will not last more than 6 months in our environment. A Peugeot grinder is more likely to break on its wooden body than elsewhere, usually from dropping from a height. Why do their competitors believe plastic is a good medium to grind pepper? Defies logic.
Adrienne S. July 18, 2016
I have six grandchildren and have collected vintage sterling Peugeot pepper mills for all of them. I also have four that I use all the time and they are wonderful.