Kitchens have become the high-tech heart of the home, Alexa can read recipes, and quickly give us measurement conversions, refrigerators have touch screen communication hubs, and you can use your phone to scan barcodes of items you may be running low on and send your order to the store. And while most of these high tech modern finds make kitchen life easier, looking back on vintage and antique kitchen items of yesteryear make us feel nostalgic for cooking with grandma, family meals of our youth, and simpler times. I have put together a list of 10 Nostalgic Kitchen Items You’ll Find at Goodwill, if you are wanting to add a little bit of vintage charm to your kitchen.
I am sure you will likely recognize these vintage kitchen items, in fact, you probably have some of these tucked away in a kitchen cabinet.
Thanks to rustic, shabby chic, and farmhouse trends, some of these vintage kitchen accessories are coming back in style. Thrift shop shelves are filled with vintage kitchen wares, for those of us who want to keep things old-school and add a touch of nostalgia to our kitchen.
FireKing always reminds me of my grandparent’s cottage on the River. The kitchen cupboards were jam-packed with old Kimberly mugs, and those iridescent peach casserole dishes. I have run across both forms of FireKing at thrift stores, although the Peach Luster Kitchenware turns up much more frequently.
Nothing can add a cheerful splash of color to your kitchen like Pyrex. I have been scooping up Pyrex at thrift stores for years now, and over time it has become a hot commodity in thrift stores. “Thrift store flipping”, the practice of buying items at thrift stores to resell to collectors at higher prices has driven the demand for Pyrex up, and some thrift stores have begun pricing accordingly. Do not despair, I always walk through the kitchenware aisles to try to scout out Pyrex, and do run across some nice pieces, if you see something you like pick it up quickly, it will not last long on the shelf!
You are almost sure to run across that iconic sunburst pattern sooner or later at a thrift store. During the early 1950s, Tupperware’s sales and popularity exploded, fueled by the innovative new “party” marketing method, in which representatives would plan sociable get-togethers with friends and neighbors to sell the plastic kitchenware, which created an alternative choice for women who either needed or wanted to work, and a fun shopping experience. Tupperware has always embraced the trendy colors of the moment, and because of that items can fall out of favor as tastes change, Bright Orange, Pumpkin Orange, Yellow, and Avocado Green Tupperware frequently pop up in the plastic section of Goodwill. I personally will not buy plasticware from Goodwill for food storage, but that doesn’t mean I won’t bring home a piece to add to a display for color. One of my “wish list” thrift store items is the 1980’s Tuppertoys Mini Serve It Set with Pitcher, Cups, Bowls, and Lids in the green, brown, orange and yellow colors for my fall themed china cabinet display.
Unlike Pyrex, Vintage Corningware casserole dishes can still be picked up for a song at thrift stores and a great way to add some nostalgic charm to your kitchen. The popular kitchenware sports a small variety of patterns, and Cornflower Blue, Country Festival and Merry Mushrooms all made appearances on our dinner table in my youth.
Corelle Dinnerware has been a kitchen mainstay since 1970. The iconic dinnerware was marketed for its durability, attractiveness, and versatility of use, and was sold at a very competitive price. The dinnerware became immensely popular, and my generation will most likely immediately recognize the three patterns pictured in the above photo: (from top to bottom) Spring Blossom (Introduced in 1972, Discontinued 1986), Butterfly Gold (Introducted 1970, Discontinued in the early 1990s), Old Town Blue (Introduced 1979, Still in Production). Odds are, one look at these plates will have you remembering family dinner time.
Jelly Jar Glasses
Commercially packaged jellies and jams sold in grocery stores were packed into jars that were the perfect size for little hands and were often reused for kids juice glasses. It wasn’t long for Welches to take note and start adding graphics and characters to appeal to kids right on the jar, I know grew up with cartoon character jelly juice glasses although I can’t really remember which ones!
I’m not really sure why SO MANY Mixmasters end up at Goodwill, or why my Goodwill insists on separating the mixing bowl from the actual machine. I frequently run across white vintage sunbeam mixmasters at thrift stores, but keep your eyes peeled for the highly desirable pink or turquoise. As with all electronics or appliances you plan on buying at a thrift store, ask to plug it in and test it out. These are great conversation pieces, and I love the retro feel these add to a kitchen, but they will never replace my KitchenAid.
Church and Community Cookbooks are typically spiral-bound and created as a fundraiser for local groups and organizations. These time-honored recipe compilations feature “best of” recipes from members of Junior Leagues, church congregations, garden clubs, and more. Many are typewritten, instead of printed by a printed which adds to their vintage charm. You can’t go wrong with classics like Applehood and Motherpie by the Rochester Junior League.
Diner and Restaraunt China
Shenango, Syracuse, and Buffalo China are just a few of the brands of Vintage Diner and Restaraunt china you are likely to run across at thrift stores. China produced for diners and restaurants was typically a heavier stoneware, and usually had some form of decoration. Some of the most highly sought after restaurantware include airbrushed pieces, Western and floral themes (wagon wheels, cows, and palm trees), and plates bearing establishment and company logos. I am usually on the lookout for air-brushed pieces in pastel colors to go with my pink and teal Pyrex collection.
Kitschy Storage Tins
I am totally guilty of buying these things all the time. And honestly, most I have brought home I wouldn’t dream of storing food in, but I have been known to squirrel away cash, and the kids phones (when they’ve lost electronic privileges) in them. I will buy genuine vintage kitchen storage tins, and “new” promotional tins that replicate vintage or antique packaging. My favorite Goodwill tin find is my red and white pansy tin, she is almost always on display in my kitchen. I love my Maid of Honor trio with Robin with cherry decorations (below), but they only make seasonal appearances, due to the fact that they have not aged well, and even after a gentle but thorough cleaning look grungy.
Thrift shopping is not really like regular shopping, it takes a little patience, and you have to be willing to dig through a lot of junk, but I have found it is well worth the time invested when you bring home an awesome item for a song.
What do you think are the best vintage thrift store finds? Have you ever made an epic score at a thrift shop?