Welcome to the fourth edition of Material Culture Class, a monthly article where you get a little history behind the find.
Since June is all about green – green grass, green leaves, and fried green tomatoes – we’re taking a look at a green, limited-edition Pyrex dish from 1953. This is known to collectors as the Pyrex Heinz Forest Green Promotional Dish.
It was sold in grocery stores for – are you ready for this? – seventy-nine cents. You couldn’t get one at a yard sale for that now, probably. But there was a catch! In order to get that awesome deal, you had to buy 3 Heinz products. I am old enough to remember grocery store promotions like that, but I don’t remember seeing any in recent years. At least, not for anything as useful as a glass baking dish. Here is an ad that appeared to let homemakers everywhere know about this great promotion:
Notice the canned Heinz products in the ad. The label on the Heinz Baked Beans on the far right seems to be the same color as the dish, so we can assume that is where the color of the dish came from.
The curious thing about this dish is it’s number. All Pyrex pieces have a very organized numbering system. Always three digits, the third digit represents the dish’s capacity multiplied by two. The first digit indicates what series or type it is. 300’s are generally 3 piece bowl sets, 400’s are generally 4 piece bowl sets. 200’s are generally baking dishes. 500’s are usually reserved for refrigerator dishes (for storing leftovers) and then there is the Space Saver casserole series that were numbered 548 and 575. Confused yet?
The strange thing about this Heinz dish is that the 5xx number seems to put it in the “refrigerator dish” group, since Space Savers didn’t come out until 1957, but the promotion would imply it’s to be used to heat your Heinz Baked Beans. You’d think it would have started with a “0”, since that’s what most of the casseroles start with. Not a big deal. But the third number, 7, would imply it has a 3.5 quart capacity. Remember, I said the last number is the capacity, doubled. The capacity of this dish is about 1.5 quarts. It should be numbered 503. But they already had a 503 – the 1.5 quart refrigerator dish from the four-piece set that Pyrex sold forever in a zillion colors and pattern. Still with me?
I think the authors of the wonderful website Pyrex Love.com figured it out — perhaps the makers of Pyrex made an exception and numbered it 507 because of Heinz 57, which has been around since 1896. Just a nice little nod to the ‘ole “57 Varieties” by the folks at Pyrex, to help spur their Pyrex/Heinz promotion. Pretty darn clever.
Okay class, that’s it for today. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the past of grocery store promotions. (There were also many Tang promotions over the years, and I have one of the Tang jars. You can see it here.) Share your thoughts in the Comments and if you would like We Call It Junkin delivered free to your Inbox or RSS reader, sign up at the top of your screen. Wishing you peace and happy junkin – Dawn