How much would you pay for a pink casserole dish decked in daisies? Ashley Linder, 37, of Lake Jackson, Texas, would pay $300—and did. She’s just one of many caught up in the current craze for classic kitchenware. A year of pandemic lockdowns produced a surge in home cooking. Vintage cookware fits right into that homey, old-fashioned vibe.
The first Pyrex glass dishes were born in the early 1900s when an employee of Corning Glass Works in Corning, New York, brought home a sawed-off glass battery jar. His wife used it to bake a cake. Eureka! Before this time, the Corning company had been making glass for railroad signal lanterns. Now a new and eager market had opened up: America’s housewives. Corning first released a Pyrex dish in 1915. Pyrex glass didn’t lose color over time or retain food smells after washing. It could withstand drastically changing temperatures, so cooks could stick the dishes in the freezer or the oven. And the crockery was pretty enough to show off on the table or the serving buffet too.
Pyrex is still rolling out dishes, and people still buy them. But now more than ever consumers are prowling online for the old stuff: antique pieces from the mid-20th century painted with flowers, bright colors, and with specific functions, such as bracketed chip and dip bowls or four-piece refrigerator storage sets, affectionately nicknamed “fridgies.”
“I’ve always been an old soul and loved anything old,” says Megan Telfer, a collector of vintage dishes, salt and pepper shakers, cookie jars, and “a little bit of everything.” The 26-year-old parole officer from the Dallas area says her grandmother gave her mother a green and white Pyrex “Spring Blossom” mixing bowl. “That’s when my interest was piqued,” Telfer says.
Three years later, she exhibits her more than 300 pieces of vintage Pyrex on three large bookcases with protective glass doors. Her five-year-old daughter has some vintage Pyrex too.
Some collectors buy vintage dishware to try to resell it at a profit, while others are in it for nostalgia. “It reminds them of their mothers, aunts, grandmothers,” says Hope Chudy, owner of a Massachusetts antique store.
Proverbs 10:7 says, “The memory of the righteous is a blessing.” We seem to know that by instinct. Calling to mind beloved people in our pasts brings us comfort in hard times—and even casserole dishes can help us remember.
As more people collect, prices rise. One of the rarest pieces, the 1959 “Lucky in Love” covered casserole dish, sold for $5,994.