Some American Themed Products Are Actually Not Made In America

Tuesday, July 8th 2014, 8:30 pm
By: News 9

Old Glory was flying high as we just celebrated the 4th of July, but do we support our country through what we buy? While many "Made in America" campaign advocates push us to buy local, economy experts said buying homemade products isn't as easy or as economical as you might think, and what you think should be American-made, isn't.

To say Harley Hintergardt and his brother Hadley are patriotic would be an understatement.

"We try to buy everything American that we can buy," Harley said as he was installing a flag pole at an Oklahoma City home.

The brothers have installed flag poles for more than a decade and use only local products.

"This is a 3X5 poly flag made here in Oklahoma City," Harley said. "I can't believe anyone would buy a flag that's made outside of our country."

But it happens every day, and so often, items that seem so American, are not. Take baseballs for instance. Rawlings, an American sports manufacturing company has been the official supplier of baseballs to the major and minor leagues since 1977, but those baseball are actually made in Costa Rica.

Many Christmas lights are made in China and Barbies are made in Hong Kong. Converse All Stars are owned by Nike, but outsourced to China, Thailand and India. 2012 U.S. Olympic team Uniforms are made in China.

"The whole idea of this buy American is just hilarious, because it's so hard to find something that's uniformly American," said Dr. Jonathan Willner, a professor of Economics at Oklahoma City University.

In fact, Dr. Willner said the answer why is clear.

"It's called the global economy, it's been going on since the 1700's," Willner said. "Businesses are in business to make a profit, if you can lower the cost of goods sold, you can make a higher profit. So, if outsourcing is a cheaper way to produce, then that's what companies are going to do."

Dr. Willner said buying American does help the people who produce in the United States, the owner of the company and the workers who work there, but it hurts consumers.

"It hurts those people who go that way in the sense that they don't live as well, they pay more for each product that they buy because they're buying American," he said. "People tend to go to the lower price."

Despite the cost, Harley said he'll stick with American made where he can, and even takes his wallet a bit closer to home.

"The flag pole is made in Oklahoma City, the flags are made in Oklahoma City and we were made in Oklahoma," he said.

Products we researched and where they are made:

  • Rawlings Major League Baseballs - Costa Rica
  • Radio Flyer Red Wagon - China
  • Barbie - Hong Kong primarily
  • Converse All Stars - owned by Nike but outsourced to China, Thailand and India
  • Levi's Jeans - one style manufactured in America, North Carolina
  • Etch-A-Sketch - China
  • 2012 U.S. Olympic Uniforms - China
  • Televisions - none made in America, in fact, Five Rivers Electronic Innovations, the last company to manufacture TVs in America, went out of business in 2004, according to Business Insider
  • iPads - China
  • Monopoly game pieces - Monopoly produces many of its game pieces overseas, including the green and red houses which are made in Ireland, according to The Street
  • American Flags - $3.2 million worth of American flags were imported by the U.S. in 2010, with the vast majority being made in China, the Washington Post reports
  • Christmas Lights - China among other countries