Fiesta Cobalt Blue Stacking Cereal Bowl
By Homer Laughlin
6 1/2 in
Fiesta is a line of ceramic dinnerware glazed in differing solid colors manufactured and marketed by the Homer Laughlin China Company of Newell, West Virginia.
The original shapes, glazes and concept of combining various colors were designed by the company’s art director Frederick Hurten Rhead in the 1930s. The dinnerware was introduced for retail sales to great success in 1936. Homer Laughlin withdrew Fiesta from production in 1973 in response to declining sales before reintroducing the line in 1985. Some of the original shapes were redesigned and other new shapes were designed as part of the 1985 reintroduction by Jonathan O. Parry, who became the company art director in 1984.
As a line of open-stock dinnerware, Fiesta allows buyers to select by the piece, rather than requiring the purchase of entire sets. Notably, buyers can mix and match from the color range. According to David Conley, the company’s director of retail sales and marketing, Fiesta’s current colors derive from home decor and fashion trends. According to the Smithsonian Institution Press, Fiesta’s appeal lies in its bright colors, modern design, and affordability.
It has been found that past glazes have been radioactive or contained lead glazes, but these have been discontinued.
The name of this line of dinnerware has always been simply Fiesta, despite being informally referred to by customers as Fiesta Ware.
Fiesta’s popularity and marketing
Salt and pepper shakers showing the Art Deco design of Fiesta ware.
Fiesta was introduced at the annual Pottery and Glass Exhibit held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in January 1936. It was not the first solid color dinnerware in the US; smaller companies, especially Bauer Pottery in California, had been producing dinnerware, vases, and garden pottery, in solid color glazes for the better part of a decade by the time Fiesta was introduced to the market. But, Fiesta was the first widely mass-promoted and marketed solid-color dinnerware in the United States.