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“Heat and Eat and Easily Repeat” T. S. & T. Genuine Oven Serve Ware

By Suzanne Skwarski, Plank Road Questers #236

Long before the microwave oven, housewives spent hours preparing a hot meal in heavy iron baking vessels. Most of these one pot meals were stews or meat and potato roasted dishes that weighed mightily and cooked unevenly.

Enter the Homer Laughlin company. After the stock market crash, The Great Depression changed dietary consumption by introducing inexpensive substitutes for pricey meals that contained meat and dairy products. Families ate more rice, grains, pasta, and vegetable based meals, as casseroles and one pot meals became necessary to fit the family food budget. The engineers at Homer Laughlin devised a ceramic cooking line that was able to evenly heat food in the oven for a shorter period of time, was easier to clean, could be served on the table in decorator colors, was light weight, and cost far less than cast iron. In 1933, the name Taylor, Smith & Taylor (T.S.&T.), Genuine Oven Serve Ware, stylishly outfitted the family kitchen with modern, affordable, table products. Plain or floral designs appealed to the growing populace as the allure of new technology expanded. Colorful ramekins, bakers, French Casseroles, and custard cups were available in green, beige, yellow, pink, brown or turquoise until 1938. Small, individual items were packed inside Mother’s Oats as “free item” to promote sales of both the cereal, and oven ware. This campaign lasted well into the 1950’s. As times changed, so did decorating taste, and the oven serve ware was replaced with the sleeker, Kitchen Kraft product line. Collectors will find the oven ware is still widely available in vintage shops, is still very usable, and still works well in the microwave.

Sources available upon request. From the collection of Suzanne Skwarski

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