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.