Even the pepper is obese

Do you remember Fiesta dinnerware? It was introduced by Laughlin China in 1936, during the Great Depression, simple design, inexpensive and in a variety of gay, solid colors. Like Ritz Crackers, the idea was to brighten your day even though your life was gray.

The manufacturer discontinued it in 1973. By then we were out of the Depression, we’d defeated the Axis, recovered from McCarthy and shut our eyes to defeat in Viet Nam. We thought everything was getting better and better every day in every way. We no longer needed glazes to brighten out spirits.

We were wrong.  So the other day—after I again adjusted my budget downwards, the Republicans again walked out on negotiations to keep our economy solvent, and the predicted high was again in the nineties—I decided that what I needed was to eat my breakfast from a cheerful yellow plate. So I pulled out my parents’ remaining pieces of Fiesta and filled the salt and pepper shakers to spice up my eggs. That’s when I was struck with a curious little change since 1939, the year my parents bought them. The holes in the pepper shaker were too small for twenty-first century pepper. Our pepper grounds, like our hamburgers, houses and highways, had swollen during sixty years of gluttony. It’s now too fat to fit through the holes.

In 1986, in the middle of a huge economic boon, the Laughlin China realized it could cash in on the new craze for collectible Fiesta and began producing it again, with the signature three circles on each piece. But now the colors were subdued, “tasteful,” and the pieces about one-third again the size of the originals, to match the then current style and appetite.

Not everyone is as fortunate as I am to have inherited original Fiesta. So I hope the company will   go back to the earlier colors and sizes. We all need a happy-faced plate to cheer up our breakfasts and moderated appetites to restore our health.

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Author: Skipper Hammond

Skipper Hammond was born on the edge of Charlotte, N.C. in a time, in a neighborhood where children were free to play. She and her friends ran, biked, rode, explored and read. The entire neighborhood was their stage for the continuing plays Skipper created based on the stories they read. Cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, British and American,Yankee and Confederate armies romped through woods, across fields and creeks, up and down streets until good guys prevailed or softball and hopscotch season arrived.  Then she grew up and went to the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Tar Heel legislators at the time saw no reason to finance economics education for women, but Skipper contrived a major in economics by cobbling credits in business and history. Involvement in a series of strikes by textile workers led to graduate work at Cornell with a masters in Labor Union History and several years of union organizing in North Carolina, Virginia and Florida for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.  After marriage and the birth of her son and daughter, Skipper, then living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, worked at jobs where she could punch out—stitcher, machinist, assembly worker, candy maker, database designer, economics journal editor—and still have the energy needed for the real work of political organizing for social and economic justice.  Her political work took the form primarily of writing and editing for movement publications, and when she moved from Cambridge to a farm in rural north central Florida, she began writing for the Ocala Star-Banner and Gainesville Sun, then founded the Williston Pioneer, where she was publisher, editor, reporter, ad salesperson and janitor. She also raised goats. She currently divides her time, unequally, between Williston, Florida, where she continues playing in the woods, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she invents stories. 

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