Life In The 50’s: Pyrex


Retro Dee is a regular contributor to The Grooveyard’s website, writing about music, fashion and other trends of the 1950s.  Check out her blog, Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever here, and her column here every week.

Hey folks it’s Retro Dee with another swell post about what life was like in the 1950s. Because, you know, it was the Best Era Ever.

Recently, I joined a collector’s network and I noticed that a popular collectible on today’s market is Pyrex. What once went for under a dollar at Woolworth’s, can go for $100 a piece on the collector’s market today!

With the popularity of vintage Pyrex, I thought of putting this post in the Collecting 1950’s section. However Pyrex is more than a collectible for us today, it was a way of life in the 1950’s.

Yes! Every successful housewife owned Pyrex. It was the perfect gift for a new Bride. It was the go-to bakingware of the day, and remained so for the next four decades.

ca. late 1950’s Pyrex ad

At the beginning of the 1950’s, primary colored opalware was introduced into kitchens and dinner tables across America. These fun, cheery colors were indicative of the Happy Days of the post WWII era. By 1953, Lime, Flamingo Pink, Turquoise, and Dove Gray were all available in dinnerware and in baking and serving dishes as well.

1953 Pyrex Dinnerware ad featuring the 4 new colors

In 1955, Pyrex introduced bakingware in “Desert Dawn” colors: warm Desert Pink or bright Desert Yellow. This correlated with the popularity of the Western United States.

1955 ad for Desert Dawn

By 1956, Pyrex softened its color line by introducing pastels: yellow, pink and turquoise. But wait! The big news in ’56 for Pyrex were the first first screen-printed patterns. They were “Daisy” and “Snowflake”, and were available in white on turquoise, turquoise on white, and white on charcoal.

Ad for Snowflake and White Daisy Patterns, 1956

By 1957, Pyrex with patterns were in full swing. This is what the collectors today go ape over. Collecting full sets of favorite patterns is a mission for every Pyrex lover. The patterns introduced in 1957 were “Butterprint”, (aka “Amish Butterprint”) which featured people in an Amish theme and “Gooseberry”, an attractive leaf and berry print. Also introduced that year was the Cinderella bowl which had a handle on one side and a spout for pouring on the other.

Ca. 1957 ad feat. Butterprint in the Cinderella bowl.

During the last 3 years of the decade, a plethora of new patterns were released. Some patterns such as “Black Tulip”, “Scroll”, “Bluebird”, and “Golden” were released as promotional gift set items. Many patterns did not originally have a name. So later, collectors gave them names to identify them, such as “Compass”, “Yellow Starburst” and “Dandelion Duet”.

Patterns exclusive to the 1950’s decade were: “Eyes” (1950-1959) , “Snowflakes” (1956-1960), “Black Tulip” (1956-1957), “Flowers” (1958-1959), “Scroll Pink” (1958-1959).

Exclusive Patterns to 1957: “Pressed Flowers”, “White Lace” aka “Lace Medallion” and “Black Needlepoint” aka “Embroidery”.

Exclusive Patterns to 1958: “Hot Air Balloons”, “Golden Scroll”‘, “Mod Kitchen” (fish, carrots, apples), “Barbed Wire”, and “Sunflower”.

Exclusive Patterns to 1959: “Leaf”, “Golden Branch”, “Golden Casserole” aka “Grape Vine”, “Constellation”, “Compass”, “Dandelion Duet”, “Gold Hearts”, “Turquoise Scroll”, and “Lucky In Love” aka “Four Leaf Clover”.

For the full list of Pyrex patterns, please visit The Corning Museum of Glass Pyrex Pattern Library.

Types of Pyrex pieces available also broadened in the late 50’s. Most bowls were available with covers, and bowls had metal stands. Some even had handles so you could carry them to your latest pot-luck. This idea of being able to easily transport food from your kitchen to a friends’ was innovative and exciting to housewives everywhere!

1959 ad featuring new patterns and ease of transporting dishes.

Well that’s it for this edition of Life in the 50’s. Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed it.


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For more posts about the 1950’s, stay tuned and please follow Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever on WordPress. You can also follow Retro Dee on Twitter @RealRetroDee and Instagram @mariepascal82

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