If your decorating style leans more toward Mad Men than French farmhouse, I'll bet good money that you have a piece of Pyrex bakeware stashed somewhere in your house. It might have been your mother's mixing bowl or your grandmother's casserole, but these days it's just as likely that you scored the piece from Etsy or from a vintage seller you found on Instagram.
Like My Little Pony and Doc Martens, Pyrex is enjoying a lucrative second life in the 21st century with the urban homesteader contingent. Instead of languishing in dusty kitchen cabinets, it's got a place of pride on the shelves of millennial cooks, design enthusiasts, and postmodern homemakers.
And though the craze for the colorful stuff is fairly recent, Pyrex never really left us. The brand still produces clear glass mixing bowls and casseroles (check your local Target—it's there!), but it's the vintage styles that set retro collectors’ hearts aflutter.
Most of us get the Pyrex collecting bug when we see a piece that looks exactly like the one we used to stir cookie batter in as a kid, or in which our dad made his famous tuna noodle casserole every weekend.
Michael Barber, author of Pyrex Passion: The Complete Guide to Decorated Vintage Pyrex and Pyrex Passion II: Vintage Opal Dinnerware, Beverage Items, and Storage Containers, fell in love with Pyrex when he was boxing up items from his mother's cupboards in preparation for a move. He discovered her two bread bowls—"one for yeast and one for rising, and they smelled like bread in my memory."
Die-hard Pyrex aficionados are still stalking thrift store shelves and antique malls, but for the casual collector, Etsy, eBay, and the vast network of social media has encouraged many of us to fall down a rabbit hole of Pyrex buying, selling, and swapping. (Don't search for Pyrex on Pinterest if you want to have a productive day.) "The availability factor has changed a lot in the last three years," Barber says. "Initially, there weren't sites like Flickr and Yahoo Groups, but now there are dozens and dozens of Pyrex groups targeted to countries, regions, and niches."
It's great, durable design.
Unlike a fragile, unwearable vintage lace dress, Pyrex can still be used day in and day out with no decline in quality of the product. Barber, who by his own admission owns "almost every piece of Pyrex produced from the past 45 years," uses them all—even the pricey rare factory prototypes. In comparison to my flimsy plastic IKEA bowls (sorry, IKEA, I love you, but really), my Pyrex Autumn Harvest mixing bowl set is a far more durable and preferable option for all my daily recipe development work. My Pyrex pie plates cook more evenly and release crusts more easily than my modern ceramic models. Pyrex remains a kitchen workhorse even decades after it first rolled off the assembly line.
Do you have vintage Pyrex in your kitchen? Tell us all about it!