Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Blue-Plate Special or Ordering at Woolworth's Lunch Counter

The lunch counter at F.W. Woolworth’s was always busy and every seat was filled.  According to my friend Karen Plunkett-Powell’s book Remembering Woolworth’s, it was a company built on selling everything for nickels and dimes.  Did you know they had their own china pattern?

Woolworth’s has moved into the realm of iconic American history.  Much of its memorabilia has been lost.  I picked these dishes up and discovered they were made for F. W. Woolworth.  They must have been made before Woolworth moved into the realm of iconic American history, because they are both dishwasher and microwave safe.  They only had two.

Blue has never been my favorite color, but I gravitate to it in dishes.  We had blue china when I was young.  At first I thought the pattern was Blue Willow.  Every time I see a blue pattern on a white plate I think it’s Blue Willow, although I hope one day to find Ming Tree.

I don’t know if they ever served food on these plates at Woolworth’s.  From what I can remember, since I never ate at the counter, the stacks of cups and plates along the back wall were institutional white and thick like ironstone.

The non-matching cup is from another collection, but it seemed to work here.  I love cups with cops since when I'm writing anything hot will usually become tepid before I finish drinking it.  The covers are as good as a ceramic thermos.

I also tried a new way to fold the napkin.  It was virtually painless, but napkin folding interest me.  They give the table both character and definition, setting the stage so guest immediately understand the purpose of the table and the meal.

Blue was never my favorite color, but when it comes to dishes, I seem to gravitate toward that calming color.  Meals should be enjoyed, savored and eaten in leisurely environment over which you can decompress, tell stories and enjoy the company of others.  We tend to run faster than trains these days, each of us busy and needing to get to the next job, class, event, or whatever calls our attention.

I added the salt and pepper shakers because they have blue and pink hearts on them and sit on a blue heart.

Finally to round out the table, I added the small portrait of a French cafe.  While it's not Woolworth's, it can act as a conversation piece or just be a pleasing scene to look at while you eat.  And the French are famous for their food and for taking time to thoroughly enjoy it.

All we need now is the food and today's blue-place special from the Woolworth menu is the Delux Ham Sandwich for a whopping $.40.  Couple that with a $.10 King-siz Coca-Cola and you have a complete meal.

Eat hearty.


  1. Although I never ate in Woolworth's when I was a kid, I sure used to go there a lot with mother, for almost anything, there was one very close to us in Astoria-Queens, NY, my home town. I'm loving the plates and I'd like the memories of them too. I also gravitated to liking B&W, now I even have Hutchenreither, the onion pattern. The mugs are perfect! Happy Valentine's. I'm at TT at Susan's.

    1. Fabby,

      Thanks for stopping by. I'm new at this, but loving it. So many things bring back memories. I'll go to TT and look you up.

  2. I love blue and white, and I enjoyed the story behind your pretty plates! They look wonderful with your cobalt blue stemware! I remember shopping in Woolworth's to spend my allowance as a child. SUCH a fun store!

    1. I once went there and bought my mother the perfume Evening in Paris. It was called toilet water at that time and I didn't understand why. I'd forgotten all about it until I pulled out Karen's book and there's a bottle on the cover.

  3. Hi there, Shirley! You did a really terrific job on the napkin fold! I have been attempting that fold for a while...I always end up giving up! (I'm a very impatient little person!) You nailed it, though! I love the fresh blue & white. Very pretty! I vividly remember Woolworth's. It was very popular "back in my day" and I can remember shopping there as a teenager for lots of fun stuff. Never knew they had their own line of dishes, though! Very cool!

  4. Great table...I'm not much for blue either, find I really like when I see someone put a blue table together!! I have "china" teapot I bought at Woolworth's about a hundred years ago!!! ;-)

  5. My dad worked for the rival dimestore chain, Morgan and LIndsay (we couldn't shop at WW, lol).Love your blue-and-white dishes!

  6. Shirley, I never ate in a Woolworth's,but my mom did. I liked to shop at "Five and Dime's" as they were called, when I was a young girl. I also am impressed with that napkin fold. xo

  7. Hi Shirley, thank you for the lovely memories. Mom would let me come downtown with her to Woolworths now and again and it was such a treat to sit up at the counter for lunch! I don't recall the dishes having a pattern, like you I seem to remember thick ironstone but what a pretty pattern those are in your tablescape! My mom's original wedding dishes were from Woolworth's and were a pretty dusty blue with a thin silver band and sort of gray blue-bell sprays that she got tired of and donated. Years later now I have to pay a lot if I can even ever find those same dishes to reminisce. Definitely going to have to find your friend's book. Thank you!

  8. Hi Shirley! I'm here from Michael Lee's blog, "Designs by Gollum" (Rattlebridge Farm.) I wanted to see if you posted your bread machine cinnamon bread recipe!! BUT, before I looked any further, I had to stop and read this post about Woolworths! Gosh, my first job out of high school was being a waitress at one!! And I was terrible! LOL
    I also ate lunch at different ones, when I was a little girl....such fond memories. I'm definitely going to get your friend's book, too!!
    Great to "meet" you! You have a wonderful blog.

  9. This is funny, I have all but the 16" serving plate, I have the mugs, about 10 place settings.
    I started when I was about 38, each week another setting, then I went to other patterns.
    All at once, they were gone, when I got married my husband loved the set so we set out
    to get what we could.
    This is my good set, the Wedgwood is nice but not as special as my blue set from
    a store long closed.

  10. I have a few of these exact bowls and plates by Woolworths. I believe they are called Blue Onion pattern. I wonder if they are worth anything these days?