In my family, we can’t have a party without “the pink party plates.” If there’s a bridal luncheon or shower, a baby shower, a retirement party, or a milestone birthday, the party plates are front and center. No clear plastic dessert plates trying to pass for glass, no themed paper plates, no textured plastic punch cups. (Ok, yeah, I confess,
sometimes often we do that too.) Using real dishes requires more effort, admittedly, but these party plates never fail to impress. My favorite response at one party was from a young woman who gasped, “Oh look – REAL paper plates!”
My earliest memory of these pink milk glass snack plates was at my Grandmother’s house sometime in the ‘60s. She was giving a baby shower for a lady who, I’m sure, was a coworker at the Colonial Store (a local grocery chain) since just about all the guests were the check-out clerks. I was the helper who distributed all the games and awarded prizes. One of the games was to create a baby hat from a pink napkin. I awarded the prize to the woman who had a cotton ball in her purse and somehow attached it to the top of the hat. How cute was that? So how do the plates figure into this story? They don’t, I guess, except that the plates were there, and Grandma served cake, mints, nuts, and punch.
My sister Mary Jollette remembers seeing Grandma’s dining room table set with these pink plates. Grandma was hosting a luncheon for the ladies in the Dorcas-Friendly Sunday School class. To a little girl, these little plates and little cups were the prettiest sight. Come to think of it, probably all of us are enchanted by small versions of things – children’s tea sets, train sets, baby dishes, dollhouses, salesman’s samples. The party plates aren’t miniatures, of course, but they are smaller than our regular dishes used for regular meals, the perfect size for a finger sandwich, a little Jell-o, veggies and dip.
The other attraction is the color. There is just something charming about pink milk glass. In the grand scheme, these plates are not all that old or valuable. I have seen them on eBay referred to as a Hostess Set selling for about $45-$50 for a set of 4. They were made by the Jeannette Glass Company out of Jeannette, Pennsylvania. The company, which started as a bottle manufacturer, was a forerunner in the production of Depression glass. In the 1950s, it started producing milk glass which was gaining in popularity thanks to competitors like Westmoreland and Fenton. Jeannette introduced this pretty color called Shell Pink in 1958 but discontinued it in 1959. So that dates my party plates!
Just look at this design. According to the Replacements website, it’s called Feather, but it always reminds me of a snowflake.
I’m not sure how I came to get them during the great division of our parents’ stuff – probably because I decorate with pink more than Mary Jollette does. We both love the plates and enjoy using them. When my sister heard that her mother-in-law always used snack plates for Sunday evening leftovers when she was growing up, I thought that was a brilliant idea. Now I want to do that. I want to use these plates MORE than I do. I’m sure if I took the time, I could remove some under-used bowls and such from a kitchen cabinet to make way for these pink cuties.