Some people fail to recognize the little, but important things, that make living life a civilized endeavor. There are several necessities we can’t live without, or we think we can’t, and every day and fine dining dishes fall into that invisible group of pertinent items we take for granted. But when the history of dishes comes to light, there is an incredible appreciation for the art of making ceramic, porcelain, and bone China dishes. More than 26,000 years ago humans realized clay could mix with water, and then fired to make figures, jars, and dishes. More than 10,000 years later, people living in India and Mesopotamia used more sophisticated versions of pottery vessels and dishes. Glass was discovered in Egypt in 8,000 BC, so the Egyptians made vessels from glass. They also were in love with intricately painted dishes made of glass.
During the 16th century, metal was the new material in Europe, and the furnaces used to produce metal products gave Europeans the idea to make dishes out of metal. Those early metal dishes were heavy, but they did the job. During the 19th and early 20th century, the demand for ceramic dishes with gilded rims and intricate floral patterns hit an all-time high. The now famous oyster plate came on the scene during the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes. The French Limoges factory was the first company to introduce different themes and serving plates. And the White House was instrumental in promoting the trend to buy unique dishes and other ceramic accessories. Companies like Wedgewood, Spode and the 20th century Staffordshire Potteries went full throttle into the dish manufacturing business, and the dishes from these factories were not only functional, they were also collectible.
World War I and the Depression sparked the trend for new dish designs. During the 1930s, color and various plate sizes were important. The famous Fiesta line of dishes came on the scene in 1936, and the bright colors, semi-reflective finishes, and the streamline design of Fiesta dishes made the company a rock star in the Art déco age. The concentric circles in Fiesta dishes are still popular today. Another dish line, the Russel Wright set of American Modern dishes, was also a huge success around the same time. Wright’s dishes are rimless, and they are easy to stack. The rich coral, sea foam blue, and chartreuse colors put the Wright collection of dishes in a league of its own. Pyrex hit the dish market in the 1950s, and that shock-resistance glass was a game changer. Modern Pyrex casserole dishes kept food hot even when the food stayed on a table during a party. Now some dish makers are inserting technology into their designs (go here to find out more).
When the 1970s TV dinners were in vogue, dishes became disposable. But basic dishes are still around. Dishes are bigger and better than ever. In fact, there is new dish technology in the works that will give people the opportunity to control the temperature of dishes. When temperature control dishes hit the mainstream market, the dish industry will come out of the invisible group of necessities once again and become a 21st-century rock star.