By 1939 Fiestaware was the top-selling solid color dinnerware in the United States. To further stimulate sales, a special promotional juice set was offered at a suggested retail price of $1.00. The set consisted of six tumblers and a 30 oz. pitcher. This new pitcher was identical to the 71 oz. disc water pitcher except for the size.
As the disc water pitcher was being developed in early 1938, several different sizes were modeled. In 1939, the smallest became the juice pitcher with Yellow chosen as the glaze color. A good number of juice pitchers can be found in Harlequin Yellow (a brighter, more pure yellow than the Fiesta yellow). Harlequin, a sister line to Fiestaware, was sold exclusively through Woolworth stores and there are too many of the Harlequin Yellow pitchers to be an accident. It must have been a deliberate choice by Homer Laughlin as a way to offer more options for the set. The standard Fiesta yellow pitcher has a book value of $45.00, while Harlequin Yellow juice pitchers are worth around $50.00 – $55.00.
A special order juice set was produced for Old Reliable Coffee a product of the Dayton Mills Spice Company. This was one of many promotional products offered by Dayton Mills and consisted of the same tumblers but with a red pitcher. Today the red juice pitcher is quite hard to find and has a value of over $500.00.
The juice tumblers had a long and somewhat painful production process. In 1935, Homer Laughlin was approached by Kraft-Phenix Cheese corporation. They were interested in having ceramic crocks made for their processed cheese products. Creative designer, Frederick Rhead was able (after some trial and error) to mold a crock to Kraft’s satisfaction and 200,00 were produced. In 1937, Kraft again came to Homer Laughlin for a new container. Rhead knew that there would be a lot of back and forth before an acceptable crock was created. He designed over 20 different models, all rejected, over a 14 month period. In the end, Homer Laughlin was unable to meet Kraft’s needs. As a side note Kraft had glass crocks made by the Hazel Atlas Glass Company. The glass crocks are almost identical to the Fiesta ones. What it boiled down to was economics. A ceramic crock filled with cheese would have to be sold at 35 cents each. Kraft could sell two glass crocks fill with cheese for the same price. The last ceramic crock designed for Kraft would go into production as the juice tumbler the next year.
The juice set tumblers were produced in all six original Fiesta colors. There was a seventh color available, Rose. Rose was a recent color addition to the Harlequin line. While not as easy to find today as the other tumblers, there are enough out there to suggest that it was either made for a special order or offered to add more variety to the juice set. Book values for tumblers in the original six colors range from around $45.00 for those in Red, Cobalt and Ivory and $40.00 in Green, Yellow and Turquoise. Rose tumblers have a value of $80.00. But with most Fiestaware since the recession these pieces can often be found for less.
The success of the juice set led to an all out special promotional campaign the next year. In our next Fiestaware blog post we will look at the Salad Set and the French Casserole.
Anthony & Chris (The Freakin’, Tiquen’ Guys)
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