It seems like every time I come across a Corning Ware pattern that I haven’t seen before, it turns out to be from the 1990s. And I have a theory about that: The ’90s were probably a period of decline for Corning Ware in general. I certainly wasn’t aware of pyroceram cookware then — I wasn’t going to buy it for my first apartment or put it on my wedding registry. And if no one else was doing that either, it’s no surprise that Corning sold off the Corning Ware brand to World Kitchen at the end of the decade.
World Kitchen promptly killed off pyroceram production and switched to stoneware — cheaper to manufacture but a highly inferior product, in my opinion. So the ’90s patterns are the last of a dying breed.
I’ve found myself with a little collection of ’90s Corning Ware patterns, mostly scored at Goodwill and Savers — occasional finds in the sea of Blue Cornflower and Spice O’ Life that’s out there. They are by no means the only patterns from that era, but they have been fun to discover and add to my collection.
Pictured above, clockwise from top left:
- Shadow Iris (1985-1995)
- Callaway (1998-2000)
- Garden Harvest (1994-1996)
- Country Cornflower (1988-1993)
- Fruit Basket (1997-1998)
- Delicious (1992)
- Fresh Cut (1997-1998)
- Rosemarie (1995-1997)
- Blue Dusk (1994-1997)
Also worth noting: The Corning Ware 411 blog is a terrific source for pattern identification, as well as interesting info about specific models, history, etc.
I see these little Glasbake handled bowls at thrift stores fairly often — usually in plain white milk glass, with slight variations in the shape of the handle. They are frequently referred to as chili bowls or soup bowls, but I think their size is better suited to ice cream. Either way, they were originally sold as “French Casseroles,” intended for individual baked sides.
I was thrilled to find this beautiful set of four colors, complete with original lids, on the Goodwill online auction site. I believe they were part of a “Patioware” set that included square serving tiles — don’t think I’ll ever find those. But the colors are so cheery, I hardly mind. These rank pretty high on my list of favorite pieces!
These versatile little casseroles are among my favorite — even must-have — Pyrex pieces. The Bake, Serve & Store Set came in three incremental sizes: 1 pint (model 471), 1 1/2 pint (472) and 1 quart (473). They’re great dishes for dips, small sides, leftovers … I’ve even heard of people using them for ice cream or cereal.
The Woodland 471 and 473 (on the right in the photo below) were two of my very first thrift store Pyrex finds — I couldn’t believe it when I saw them on the shelf at Hope Thrift. Then because I’m impatient, I bought the Woodland 472 on eBay to complete the set. I found the Spring Blossom set (on the left) on Goodwill’s online auction site — and since I was a beginner at the time, I didn’t pay attention to the model numbers and thought they were going to be larger casseroles. Lesson learned: Sense of scale can be way off in photos! I found a lot of the lids at Goodwill and Savers, which have typically been my best source of lids. Some of my current lids are chipped, so I am always on the lookout to swap them out for more pristine pieces.
One of the nice things about the Bake, Serve & Store lids is that they can be inverted for easy stacking. The same is true for Pyrex refrigerator dishes. I can just imagine a mid-century refrigerator loaded with stacks and stacks of Pyrex!
I try not to collect Fire King. Even though I love a lot of the patterns, it’s functionally the same as Pyrex — and I already have a lot of Pyrex. I don’t have the space to collect both!
Still, I’ve managed to accumulate a few pieces. In this case, I picked up the oval casserole lid first at Goodwill, thinking it would fit another dish I had (which turned out to be round, not oval — damn that memory of mine). As a result I was on the hunt for an oval casserole to match the lid. I ended up finding it in the Meadow Green pattern (along with an 8×8 baking dish) on Goodwill’s online auction site.
Fire King is also known for jadeite, a type of pale green milk glass tableware first produced in the 1940s, as well as peach lustre, a line of iridescent orange ovenware that came in a huge array of shapes and sizes. I also recently learned that Anchor Hocking, manufacturer of Fire King, briefly made a line of cookware similar to Corning Ware — so naturally I am dying to get my hands on some. I will be keeping my eyes peeled in the thrift stores!
Straight out of 1973, the Salton Cosmopolitan Casserole was the product of a collaboration between Salton Inc. and Corning Glass Works. The dish was sometimes stamped Salton and sometimes Pyrex (mine, which I scored from Goodwill online, says Salton), but it’s clearly made from a Pyrex mold — the 475 Cinderella Round Casserole. There are some interesting details about the history of Salton and Pyrex on the Corning Museum of Glass Pyrex Potluck site here.
The casserole was originally sold as a set with a square electric hot plate — you can see a photo from the Corning Museum of Glass collection here. In fact, the Salton company was primarily known for its hot plates, food warmers and other small appliances. My research into the subject brought back a childhood memory of a Salton electric bun warmer my parents used to bring out for keeping muffins and biscuits hot at the breakfast table. It was a sort of rectangular box with curved sides and a cloth-covered, hinged lid. It seems that various versions of it can be had on eBay for about $30, but I will hold out for the brown polka dot design I remember.
In addition to the bun warmer discovery, I came across a charming 1975 New York Times article about company founder Lewis Salton:
And wouldn’t you have it, the Salton peanut butter machine is available on eBay too! Luckily for my sanity and cabinet space, I’m not into collecting appliances. But if I see that bun warmer in a thrift store someday, I’m not making any promises.
Corning Ware’s personal-sized casserole dishes, called Petite Pans, are one of my favorite things to collect. I see them pretty often at the thrift stores I frequent (Goodwill, Savers, Hope Thrift), and I’ve splurged on a couple harder-to-find patterns on eBay. The P-43-B is the best size in my opinion (22 ounces), perfect for pot pies, french onion soup, individual lasagnas and more. I love the variety of patterns, and it’s handy that the pans nest easily and don’t take up much space.
There is also a 12-oz size, the P-41-B, which is really cute (I’ve only ever found it in the Blue Cornflower pattern):
The Petite Pans can morph from casserole to mini skillet with their own special detachable handle:
They have glass lids too, but I haven’t managed to get my hands on one yet. There are also plastic lids for fridge/freezer storage — perfect for freezing single-serving leftovers. Which brings me to one of the biggest reasons Corning Ware is so amazing: It can cook on the stove top, in the oven and under the broiler, then go into the freezer, then go straight from freezer to stove/oven again. And the microwave, for that matter. Try that with any other ceramic or glass dish, and you’ll be left with a pile of shards and a big mess!
There’s something about Glasbake — the patterns are so cheery and bright, yet mysterious, as they often don’t have a name. I see it a lot in thrift stores, but only buy the patterns that strike my fancy. These two seem to go by generic descriptions: blue (or teal or turquoise) fruit and yellow daisy (or possibly daisy days). I believe both designs came in other colors too. They were quite the find at Goodwill, near-mint condition with lids.
These tiny pans from Corning Ware’s Menuette line are so cute, especially in two of my favorite patterns: Wildflower (on top in the above photo) and Floral Bouquet Third Edition (bottom). I found the P-82-B saucepan at Goodwill and the P-83-B skillet at Savers, and couldn’t pass them up even though I tend to prefer models with detachable handles.
The skillet is just the right size to fry an egg, something I’ve been meaning to try in my Corning Ware. Since cooking with pyroceram is fairly new to me, it’s been really fun to get a feel for it. The egg ended up with nice brown crispy bits on the bottom and a slightly runny yolk, just the way I like it. Using plenty of butter was a good idea.
The pans originally came in sets of three with tiny lids, so that gives me a few things to hunt for…. There’s more info about the Menuette line over at the Corning Ware 411 site.
Pyrex divided dishes are especially fun to collect, due to the sheer variety of limited-release patterns out there. My favorite is Dandelion Duet (pictured above), which came out in 1959, advertised for its ability to hold two separate packages of frozen foods in one dish. (The Corning Museum of Glass has a great ad from the era in its library collection here.)
After a flurry of bidding on the Goodwill auction website, I’ve found myself with quite a few dishes (is this what obsession looks like?):
Clockwise from top right: Verde, Snowflake (x2), Pink Daisy, Opal, Royal Wheat, Golden Acorn, Town and Country, Dandelion Duet, Butterfly Gold.
Since shopping Goodwill online is sort of like cheating, I also took a picture of the pieces I actually scored in real-world thrift stores (Savers and Hope Thrift). Finding lids is always a particular treat.
So what can divided dishes be used for? Chips and dip, cheese and crackers, soup and salad, chicken and waffles, spicy and mild, two different sides, different flavors of jello, individual pies with one crust … the possibilities are endless. I’ve also heard of people using them as dinner plates.
It’s worth noting that other manufacturers also made divided dishes. I frequently see Glasbake models in thrift stores, and Fire King seems to have some too.
I have a soft spot for these utilitarian bowls made for vintage stand mixers. Various glass companies produced them for various mixer brands, usually in two-bowl sets. The bowls in the back of the photo were my first purchases when I started looking for vintage kitchenware in thrift stores: Fire King on the left (found the two-bowl set at Hope Thrift, and was bummed to discover today that the smaller bowl was cracked) and Glasbake on the right (found at Goodwill). Both were designed for Sunbeam mixers. The GE beehive bowl in the front of the photo is my most recent find, snagged at Hope Thrift. I’d been eyeing it on the shelf for a few weeks, and finally caved when it was marked 50 percent off.
The large bowls make great salad bowls, and the small ones are handy for storing leftover soup and such in the fridge. Now I’ll be on the hunt for a replacement bowl to complete the Fire King set.