Fiesta Dinnerware: Colorful, Communicative, Casual
Mission Viejo, California
Sixteen full sets of dinnerware fill the cabinets throughout the house. Each set brings great joy and carries its own message. Some say special occasion. Others say certain holidays. Still others say specific seasons of the year. And others are a white canvas for the food to pop on its own. Then there are accent pieces that we have collected in our travels around the world that we juxtapose with full sets. Yes, we are perhaps eccentric about dinnerware. I prefer to say we are passionate about the way our culinary creations are presented. Our everyday dinnerware says something too. We live in a full spectrum of color with Fiesta Dinnerware.
Made in the U.S.A. by family-owned Homer Laughlin China Company, Fiesta Dinnerware was introduced in 1936. Five festive colors in the original line were exactly what American dinner tables needed in the depths of the Great Depression. It was a great success for several decades and readily found in American homes. Over the years, colors were discontinued and others added as design trends dictated. Then in the early 1970s, sales fell and the company stopped production of Fiesta all together. There was a lapse in production from 1973 to 1986. During that time, collectors never lost interest in the vintage pieces.
Then in the mid-1980s, Homer Laughlin collaborated with Bloomingdale’s department store to re-introduce Fiesta. With a few alterations to design and commitment to lead-free content, an all-new color palette was launched in 1986.
It took us until 1992 to discover Fiesta new production. As buyers for our home furnishings retail store in Lake Arrowhead, we attended a trade show in Las Vegas. We turned a corner in the huge convention center and there it was: The Fiesta Dinnerware display of Rose, Periwinkle, Apricot, Turquoise, White, Cobalt Blue, Yellow, Black and Sea Mist Green. That night, we labored over our opening order for the store. We returned the next day to place it. As the show was about to close, the booth attendants offered that we take any of the display pieces “cash and carry”. We filled our small sedan full of dinnerware that day. And that was the beginning of our personal collection of post-1986 Fiesta. We own a few treasured vintage pieces, but we readily collect the new production line.
Here are three things we are obsessed with about Fiesta.
- It is colorful. Clay is dredged from the Ohio River in West Virginia and honed into simple Art Deco-inspired shapes. Colorful glaze is translucent so white highlights emerge from the circular ridges embedded in the design. It is beautiful. Throughout the years, specific colors are introduced and others are retired. There have been 34 colors produced since 1986. Fifteen are in current production. And a new color, Claret, was introduced just last week. That is what makes collecting so fun. Call it inconsistent, maybe scarce in some regard. When a color is retired, you have to search online or in antique stores for a coveted piece missed in original distribution.
- It is communicative. Colors may be paired in hundreds of different ways. The combinations communicate a theme, a cuisine, a place, a mood or an occasion.
- It is casual. The styling and durability of Fiesta fits our everyday California casual lifestyle. It says “come in, sit down at the table with us and let’s enjoy a meal together.”
Fiesta and Southwest cuisine have a particularly appealing synchronicity. What could be more appetizing than our Albondigas Soup in Fiesta? This is a typical meal at home, RoadTripFlavors-style. Click on the photo below to link to the recipe.