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.
The survey below of many of the patterns offered by Sears 1970 to 1987 traces the rise and fall of kitchen coordinates. It wasn't until the late 1970s that lines began to last more than a year or two, the same time Merry Mushrooms product offerings exploded.
Our favorite fungi may not have created the kitchen coordinate craze, but they certainly emboldened it. Most of the designs that were introduced in the late 1970s lasted until 1983-1984, the same time Merry Mushrooms were being fazed out.
Which is your favorite? Do you collect any of these designs? Click on the photos for larger images. Thanks again to christmas.musetechnical.com for making these catalogs available and searchable.
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.
Excitedly, I zoomed in on the box hoping to get more clues to distinguish the cookie jar from the large canister. Instead, the height is plain as day printed 10.5" tall, which is not one of the heights teased out of the catalogs. Well, that's dandy.
So, add that to my unsorted pile of information. However, the Sears logo is the green irregular pentagon with Sears in white serif font inside a white rectangle. This is a somewhat odd logo that is seen on other Merry Mushrooms boxes but isn't included in Sears' logo history. The most helpful box on which this particular logo appears is this one for the egg plate because the egg plate was available 1976-1978.
It's sensible to conclude that the same logo was used around the same time for other products' boxes. Based on this assumption, the cookie jar box seen on eBay is from the late 1970s. The bottom of the cookie jar included with the box is marked 1978 (thank you, kind seller, for included a photo of the bottom!) so that checks, and also supports that the cookie jar and the box belong together.
At the end of this blog, it's apparent that in the late 1970s, the cookie jar was 10.5" tall, not 10.75" as believed.
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