There is a local thrift shop I like to frequent because it’s clean and stocks a decent kitchen and glassware section. Every once in a while I find a beautiful piece of vintage Pyrex significantly below its market value. On Thursday I popped into the shop because I felt it calling to me.
As I approached the glassware shelves in the very back of the store, an item to the right, in the furniture section, caught my eye. Then it sucked me in like a long lost child, and the moment I was close enough I wrapped my arm around it. The item was mid-century, screamed “atomic modern,” and was smashingly gorgeous. But what the heck was it doing on a crappy fake wood sofa table behind a crappy 1990s blue sofa, ten feet away from the kitchen section? A better question… Who cares? It was nine bucks and it was mine!
I stood in the check-out line, clinging to my treasure. The woman behind me asked me if I knew my item was from the 1950s. I politely responded, “yes”. She informed me her and her ex-husband were glass collectors, having amassed a $10,000 collection while they were married. In her expertise, what I was holding was a punch bowl, and probably originally came with matching punch glasses. She guessed it was Federal Glass.
Her comments were fascinating, as I had first thought this set would be perfect for chips and dip. After I made my purchase I asked some of my mid-century modern Facebook friends if they could tell me anything about the set. The overwhelming response: it’s a chip and dip set. However, in the back of my mind, the seed had already been planted, and I imagined a frothy, pink or orange sherbet punch inside the larger bowl. So I went to the Internet for a bit of research.
One of the photos of the same set that was shared by a Facebook friend called the set “Blendo.” I searched Blendo and found many striking, similar pieces in a variety of colors made by the West Virginia Glass Specialty Company. There were bowl sets with the identical design and the exact same metal bracket that attached the bowls together. All the bowl sets, pitchers, and glasses under the Blendo line have the same graduated color motif starting dark and heavy at the bottom, fading to clear as it rises upward. My bowls had that feature but not to the same extent. Also, none of the pieces I examined featured the super cool atomic pattern. So I kept looking.
I took a stab and Googled “Anchor Hocking Chip and Dip”. After milling through many sets, I found a picture on Flickr. It was a set identical to mine, photographed next to its original box. I love original boxes—they don’t lie and their story doesn’t change over time. This box clearly said: Anchor Hocking “Happy Hour” Chip & Dip Set. So I was done. Or was I?
I kept thinking about the Blendo glass similarity and the fact that the Anchor Hocking and the West Virginia Glass Specialty Company brackets were identical. After a little more research I stumble upon a claim that my atomic set was made by Anchor Hocking and “decorated by West Virginia Specialty Glass Blendo.” I can’t verify that, but it’s plausible.
So what to do with my “Happy Hour” treasure? I decided something orange would look lovely behind the turquoise pattern. The more I considered orange it occurred to me that a very “orange” event would be taking place in a few days. The Denver Broncos would be playing in Super Bowl 50, and I always think of them from the old days when their defense was known as “Orange Crush”.
I threw all these ideas into a pot…I mean, a “bowl”, and came up with this theme: “A variety of ways to use the ‘Happy Hour’ Chip & Dip Set for your Broncos Super Bowl party.” Here they are…
The classic: Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles and Orange French Onion Dip
The unexpected: Cheez-Its and a Cheddar Cheese Ball
The healthy: Carrots and Orange Dilly Veggie Dip
The old-fashioned: Orange Sherbet Jell-O Salad and Halos mandarins
The high class/low class: Orange Crush Punch and Orange Crush
Though I tried to forget about it, one question remained: why was this set placed in the furniture section of the thrift shop? Had a store employee brought it out from the back but been distracted and sat it down to assist someone? Had someone picked it up and debated about a purchase only to change their mind and discard it in the first convenient spot? My theory—the first person to bring the bowls out from inventory didn’t think of them as a kitchen item. They saw the set as art…art so beautiful that it should be displayed “as is” in the living room on a table for your guests to admire. I completely agree.
Orange French Onion Dip
16 ounces sour cream
1 packet onion soup mix
Roughly 12 drops yellow and 4 drops red food coloring
Mix all ingredients.
Cheddar Cheese Ball
¾ package (6 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
16 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until fluffy and soft. Stir in mustard and sherry, mixing thoroughly. Beat in most of the Cheddar cheese and vegetable oil. Shape mixture into a ball and roll in the remaining Cheddar cheese. Wrap ball in plastic and refrigerate until firm.
Orange Dilly Veggie Dip
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dried dill weed
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
½ cup light sour cream
¼ cup plain nonfat yogurt
Roughly 12 drops yellow and 4 drops red food coloring
In small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours to blend flavors.
Orange Sherbet Salad
2 boxes orange Jell-O
2 cups hot water
2 cups orange sherbet
2 cups Cool Whip
Mix Jell-O and hot water, stirring until Jell-O is dissolved. Add sherbet and mix well. Add Cool Whip and mix well. Chill. (As salad thickens the Jell-O sinks to the bottom of the bowl)
Orange Crush Sherbet Punch
½ gallon orange sherbet
6 ounces of frozen orange juice concentrate
1 (2 liter) bottle ginger ale
1 can Orange Crush soda
Place orange sherbet and frozen orange juice in bowl and allow to soften for 10 to 15 minutes. Mix in ginger ale. Add a splash of Orange Crush for a little extra “punch!”