Many industrial chemical processes are taught as distinct contrasting reactions when in fact the unifying comparisons are greater than the contrasts. We examine steam hydrocarbon reforming and steam hydrocarbon cracking as an example of two processes that operate under different chemical reactivity regimes: equilibrium determined and kinetically determined, respectively. The feed streams and reaction conditions are similar, but the products are different. The role of catalysis for the two processes is compared and the effects on the kinetics are discussed. The extension to current petrochemical issues in the industrial world are considered along with possible further developments in these processes such as exploiting commercial trends in feedstock demand.