“The best things in life are free,” rarely seems to apply these days. “Free Wi-Fi” means first spending $4 on a cup of coffee, and “fat free” usually translates to “flavor free.” But in the 1930s, young women scrounged through containers of Quaker Crystal Wedding Oats for a piece of jadeite tableware. You read it right, collectible glassware in the oatmeal. True, it wasn’t totally free, but 24 cents for a tub of oatmeal and a mug comes pretty darn close.
Once a mere giveaway item, jadeite—named for its opaque, pale-green color—sits at the top of the wish list for many of today’s collectors. Paula has long admired its vintage charm and has recently started a jadeite collection of her own. Coffee mugs and cereal bowls, which she uses for heaping scoops of ice cream, are among Paula’s favorite pieces, but a rare batter bowl given to her at Christmas by Food Editor Libbie Summers holds a place of honor in her heart and her kitchen.
It’s not too difficult to build a jadeite collection like Paula’s because the tableware was mass-produced from the 1930s until the early 70s. Vintage pieces can be found by scouring thrift markets, antique stores and yard sales. But it’s important to know what to look for because companies capitalizing on the current demand for all things retro have saturated the market with reproductions.
One reason why it’s good to know your jadeite history.
The glassware initially came into fashion because it was durable and cheap to produce. McKee was the first to manufacture jadeite, but the Jeannette Glass Company is credited for coining the name. However, Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation became its largest producer. In 1942, Anchor Hocking debuted the popular Fire-King line in a variety of colors, but jadeite (or “Jade-ite” as the company calls it) remained in high demand for 30 years.
The stain- and heat-resistant tableware was served in frugal diners across America. Additionally, restaurant owners could save money by serving coffee in thick-rimmed “cheater mugs” that appeared to hold more than they actually did. The simple design of the Anchor Hocking Restaurant Ware was one of the most popular lines produced from 1950 to 1956. Today, Restaurant Ware is also the most collected, in part because of its sheer abundance.
Collectible jadeite pieces come in many forms and, as usual, the hardest to find items fetch the highest prices. Whereas mugs generally sell for around $20, a Fire-King grease jar can run $100. A set of four nesting bowls in mint condition may sell for $200.
A keen eye can tell the difference between vintage jadeite and department store knock-offs. You can identify the maker (and worth) of most pieces by examining the markings on the underside: “McK” in a small circle indicates McKee, and a “J” inside a triangle indicates Jeannette Glass Co.
However collectible, there’s no reason to store jadeite out of reach. Paula prefers putting her pieces to work rather than letting them collect dust. She uses jadeite tableware to transform her dining table into a colorful and inspired springtime setting.Read More From Holidays and Entertaining.
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Join Paula, Bobby and Jamie for a book signing at the Lady and Sons restaurant in Savannah from 2 to 4 pm. Only 350 tickets will be given out starting 1 hour before the book signing. No cameras permitted; a professional photographer will be on site to take your photo.
Join Paula and family for a Party at Sea to the Eastern Caribbean (San Juan, St. Thomas and St. Maarten - roundtrip from Miami) aboard the Celebrity Reflection presented by Alice Travel. Click here for more information, and please note that the Paula Deen cruise is only available by booking directly with Alice Travel. We are running out of space, so book as soon as possible!
Paula Deen is coming to Buffalo, NY to perform a live cooking show and let VIP ticket holders enjoy a delicious Southern feast with a menu created by Paula herself! Both events will be held at Samuel’s Grand Manner in Williamsville, NY which offers a refined elegance in a classically modern setting. The VIP lunch will be held at 12:00pm on February 8th and will go until approximately 2:00pm (doors will open at 11:30am). The lunch will include a hearty helping of Southern style cuisine which is personally selected by Paula, a Southern Cooking Bible cookbook, a photo op with Paula where she will also be signing autographs, a gift package, and preferred seating at that evenings cooking show! The cooking show will begin at 3:00pm on February 8th and run about 60 minutes long (doors will open at 2:15pm). Paula will be cooking up some of her favorite meals live for you at Samuel’s Grand Manor! Seating is unreserved and is “first come, first served”.
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Join Paula and family for a Party at Sea aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas to Labadee, Jamaica, and Cozumel (roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale) presented by Alice Travel. We will be having special, separate events for kids on this one with Jack Deen hosting the kids program! Click here for more information, and please note that the Paula Deen cruise is only available by booking directly with Alice Travel Book now before the prices start going up on the cruise and air!