Sunday, March 1, 2015

What's Up With Wheat? - Blue Wheat Corning Ware Prototypes?

The story of Corning Ware's Wheat pattern has become fairly common knowledge.   The gist of the story is that, in 1958, Corning passed on the Wheat design because it wasn't ready to go to production.  Instead they opted for the Cornflower that we all know and love today.  There is a slightly different version that claims that a mistake was made in the initial run, and that the Wheat pattern was the intended pattern but the Cornflower was applied by mistake... and it stuck.

Regardless of its questional beginnings, the Wheat pattern was revisited later and released (about 1962) under the W-series designation that ran up until about 1970 or 71.  After 1971, Corning Ware pieces were modified, became the A-series (there are no A-series Wheat pieces) and the Wheat pattern was dropped.

To date, I have found that nearly every piece of P-series Cornflower (minus a few of the later percolators) was also available in the Wheat pattern (as a W-series piece).  This is a very different scenario when compared to the other early patterns like Trefoil; which only had 3 percolators, 3 saucepans and a couple of skillets. 

I think the time has come to propose a new scenario here... You see, the whole thing doesn't make any sense... At least, not any more.

HOW can someone simply load the wrong pattern into the machine?  It's a silk screened enamel.  You would not only have to load the wrong pattern into the silk screening machine but the wrong enamel color as well... and let's face it... Blue and Brown look NOTHING alike, even to someone who is color blind.

Even if that really did happen back in 1958... WHY would Corning wait for another 4 years (1962) to revisit the Wheat pattern?   That makes absolutely NO sense either; especially since the Trefoil pattern was released in 1960.   The whole thing seems completely nonsensical to me.

What really got me thinking about how weird the whole "accepted story" sounded was when I got my hands on this piece.    

It's embossed on the bottom in the same fashion of the 1958-1959 first generation cornflower pieces....

This got me to wondering if maybe it was a prototype for the "Wheat that never was"....

Then I got my grubby mitts on this one as well.....  (the P-83-C lid is just a tiny bit too small)

Which seems to be a "prototype" for the P-83-B Menuette skillet that would eventually be released in 1966.. (P-83-B on right)

The handle is attached completely different from what we all know from the piece that actually went to the market place.  It seems a little bit of a shaky attachment if you ask me.  The final design for the P-83-B is much better - but that is beside the point.

This piece is embossed on the bottom as well...  (though not nearly as clearly as the 1 1/2 quart)

Both of these "prototype" Wheat pieces are blue in color -- the SAME blue as Cornflower. Why are they not in golden brown...?  Which brings me to my new theory.

The first two patterns released on Corning Ware products were Cornflower (blue) and Trefoil (black).  Both colors of enamel are very similar.   In fact, if you have a piece of Trefoil that is slightly faded from over cleaning, the design takes on a bluish tinge.

All this has led me to believe that the reason that Wheat was originally passed over, was not so much that the "design" wasn't ready... Obviously is was or it would not have even been printed in Blue.   It had to do with the color.  The golden brown enamel wasn't ready to go to production.  Blue wheat was not part of the vision for the product.   So they went to production with the color they had... and it was blue... which meant Cornflower.  Black is not too far of a stretch from blue, so they were able to get the Trefoil pattern out 2 years later... Even the Holiday pieces from 1960-1963 were printed in blue or black.   Eventually, they found a brown enamel color that they liked for the Wheat and, since it WAS suppose to be the original design, they went ahead and released it.

Incidentally, they DID release a blue Wheat Corning Ware in Britain.  I actually bid on a piece that was on eBay UK a couple years ago (I lost).  I don't remember if it was labeled as Pyrosil Ware or Pyroflam though. It was 2 years ago, after all.

Where is your CorningWare??


  1. What was the piece you bid on? Was it something different from the two pieces you have pictures of in your article?

  2. Hi Shane,

    I found a handle that fits my A-2-B, I thought it is A-10-HG, but it is marked "S-HG" instead. Do you know if it is the same as A-10-HG? Thank you, enjoy you blog.


  3. Heather - Yes, it was a 6 cup teapot. (I was even willing to pay the atrocious shipping from England) LOL

    AndyT - None of my A-series handles have any marks on them at all... Just patent numbers, so I am really not sure about that.

  4. My hubby and I were on our first "road trip", from Cleveland to the New England states, back in the early 1970's and it took us through Corning, NY. We went through the factory and afterwards went down to the "basement" to checkout what might be for sale. I found a whole set of the golden Wheat pattern and we bought it. We paid around $30 for the umpteen piece set. To this day I still have it and use it...48 years later.

  5. I have a piece made in England. Would like to know how rare it is or what it might be worth. Is there a way to send you a photo?


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