The thing I've always loved about Melmac, is the colors, such vibrant pinks, muted greens, soft pastels and earthy browns. They stand out on the shelves of even the drabbest thrift stores. Also, I've always been hooked on collecting vintage kitchenware and Melmac is usually reasonably priced.
Melmac dinnerware was developed by American Cyanamid for the Navy during World War II. The light weight and virtually unbreakable dishware could handle wartime in the rough waters. The craze caught on at home and soon stores were displaying Melmac type dinner sets alongside some of their finest China. Hiring creative teams and designers, Boontonware, Raffia Ware and Melmac transformed into a sought after style. By the 1950's it was a staple in all American Homes.
Melmac's popularity took a down turn after a rumor, allegedly spread by a porcelain manufacture, that the plasticware gave off toxic fumes. This rumor has been proven false. At the top of the game, there were over 350 company's producing plasticware. As the years went on, production began to drop. Households were buying more glassware. And Melmac was reserved for commercial use; restaurants, hospitals, schools etc.
Because of it's exceptional durability, Melmac lasts for years. It is the ideal dishware for camping. You could probably drop your gear filled with Melmac under your car, run it over a few times and it would be fine for lunch. I bet it could survive a bear attack. It's light weight and easily packable too.
Here is Paula Deen's guidelines to preserving and caring for Melamine dishes:
For scratches ands stubborn stains, use commercial cleaners made for Melamine, like Dip-It ($3.49, 5 oz.) instead of scouring powder. Also, avoid putting your plastic tableware in the microwave and never in the oven. Melamine tends to absorb heat, which can cause it to soften, blister and even crack. It is dishwasher-safe.
If you are interested in learning more about collecting vintage Melmac dishware there are books available. It can't hurt to ask your librarian if your local library carries them. I found two on Amazon; "Melmac Dinnerware" and "Collectable Plastic Kitchenware and Dinnerware."
Modern Yellow Collection 15 Pieces
All of the dish sets seen here are available for purchase on Etsy. Thank you, Etsy sellers, for the use of your gorgeous photographs.