“Spring’s Here,” exclaimed an article announcing the release of Corning’s newest Pyrex gifts. Included in the 1973 spring gift collection was Raffia, a 2 ½ quart Casserole (475) with a brown plastic hugger cradle.
As the 1970s progressed Pyrex opal ware promotional patterns included small three-legged trivets, under-plates and “hugger cradles,” rather than traditional cradles and candle warmers. Raffia, along with Español, was the first casserole released with a hugger cradle.
When Raffia hit consumer markets in 1973 the dish retailed for $7.95. The casserole was light beige with a dark brown pattern of stylized flowers looking somewhat like onions. Because of this Raffia is unofficially known as “Brown Onion.” The white opal ware lid has a pattern of brown concentric circles.
Corning Glass Works offered its first patterned opalware gift set in 1953 when the Heinz Baking Dish was sold in grocery stores. Widespread distribution of promotional patterns occurred after the overwhelming success of the 1956 release of seasonal “decorator casseroles.” Using existing Pyrex shapes, gift sets featured new patterns offered for a limited production time. They often came with mounters, cradles, or candlewarmers and were advertised in the spring to appeal to Mother’s Day and summer wedding shoppers and in the fall to give the holiday gift-buyers something new. Corning continued to produce gift sets through 1983, creating nearly 135 different gift set patterns during that time. Corning intended these pieces to be sold for a limited time, and directed retailers to remove older, unsold promotions from the shelves.
Often, patterns used for these gift items were unnamed, or given names descriptive of the dish’s purpose, like “chip and dip set.” Collectors over the years have assigned names more reflective of the specific pattern.