While Merry Mushrooms is arguably Sears' largest and most successful line of kitchen coordinates from the 1970s and 1980s, there are certainly many other designs. The familiar Frog Family line, AKA Neil the Frog, rivaled Merry Mushrooms in size, popularity, and longevity.
But what is a kitchen coordinate product line? The 1971 Wish Book puts it pretty succinctly, touting that "Kitchen Coordinates... [are] one pattern for stove top and table." While tableware, storage, and cookware sets existed, it was the kitchen coordinates that put the same design onto everything and more.
By the mid-1970s, kitchen coordinate lines included almost everything to outfit your swinging kitchen: cookware, clocks, spice racks, paper towel holders, tablecloths, message center, kitchen organization, and letter holder. The same item was often made with different designs, like the 5-in-1 cabinet, utensil holder, and whistling teakettle.
Last week, I took the information from the catalogs about the large embossed ceramic canister and the embossed ceramic cookie jar and tried to apply it to my collection. The outcome was iffy at best, but a lot was discovered in the process. You can read up on that adventure here. There are also helpful truths to keep in mind while looking at Merry Mushrooms.
Today, I found a cookie jar with the box listed on eBay.
The question of how to differentiate the Merry Mushrooms cookie jar from the flour canister comes up often. Is the embossed ceramic cookie jar really the same as the flour embossed ceramic canister? The short answer is yes. However, like all investigations into a seemingly simple Merry Mushrooms question, this one led into so much more.
We watch a lot of movies in our house. My husband and fellow author, Nate, has a collection of over 5,000 DVDs. While he enjoys a healthy variety of films, it's classic and contemporary horror, and obscure and low budget productions that are among his favorites.
Over the course of my mushroom hunting and studying journey, there are some pieces I've only seen in photos from old auction or sale sites, ancient websites from the early aughts, or in pictures shared by other collectors online. Among them are appliance covers, magnets, can opener, sprinkling can, and cork board. These pictures provide visual evidence that they really do exist in our realm.
However, there are some pieces that are so rare I have yet to see even a photo on an decades-old blog or foreign "auction" site. Dare I say that these are among my unicorn pieces? To even just see a photograph of one (or more!) of the Top 10 Things I've Never Seen would be magical.
10. Apron. Off-white poly-cotton. Appliqued detail on single front pocket.
In the summer of 2021, there was a rash of rare pieces up for sale on eBay. Listed for either buy-it-now or auction, prices were understandably high for such unicorn pieces, and complete ones at that. Even though yours truly is not the lucky owner of any of these (though members of the Mad for Merry Mushroom Facebook group are), simply finding and analyzing the pictures was thrilling and provided valuable information to add to the collector's guide.
This was exciting to see a complete (to my knowledge) All-Purpose Cooker and in excellent condition. One of the first cookware pieces available in the early 1970s, the cooker had a wood knob which changed to a black plastic knob. That makes this one the later version. The mushroom decal is on the front and back. Sold June 21, 2021.
A recent long weekend found Nate and me thrifting. All weekend. Saturday we went north to Wisconsin's Fox Valley to check out St. Vinnie's in Fond du Lac; Bethesda Thrift Shop, St. Vinnie's, Goodwill, and Neenah Vintage Mall in Neenah; and Bethesda Thrift Shop and Fox Valley Thrift Shoppe in Appleton.
Sunday we went west to Wisconsin's largest antique mall in Columbus, which took all day. Throughout our journey, I was scouring for Merry Mushrooms, but all I found was a napkin holder in Neenah. I already have two, so I left it for someone else to discover. Monday we ended up heading north to St. Vinnie's, Bethesda Thrift Shop, and Goodwill in Sheboygan; St. Vinnie's in Kiel; and St. Vinnie's in Plymouth. We found a couple nice things, but no fungi.
At Goodwill, our third stop of the day, Nate was off looking at movies and I wandered through the crowded home goods aisles, pawing carefully through piles of goods on each shelf. Nearing the last bank of shelving, a swath of golden yellow perched rather precariously atop wire baking racks and muffin tins caught my eye. I thought, "That looks like Merry Mushrooms gold, but what are the chances it is?"
The plain back was facing out and, as I walked past, I gave it the old side-eye as the jaunty parade of Merry Mushrooms revealed itself. I said out loud, "oh my god," grabbed it and, before scurrying to show off my treasure to Nate, wildly looked around for more.
While researching my book, I came to the realization that in the catalogs, our favorite fungi are identified as both Merry Mushrooms, with an "s" and Merry Mushroom, with no "s." Examining original packaging and product labels over the last year wasn't any help in determining the official name of the collection. What gives? Just an oversight by Sears?
My birthday was last month and Facebook decided to share a memory. A mushroom memory, which was a little helpful because I had been trying to figure out when I started collecting. According to my post, I bought the Merry Mushrooms cookie jar to add to my collection back in May 2011. I know by that point, I already had several pieces, including the catalyst for this journey- the smooth canister set that was a Christmas gift from my parents.
So, if you have a couple minutes, come with me on they short journey of Merry Mushrooms Memories. Click on the comment pictures for a larger view.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.