One mystery solved: that colour is called… Coppertone!

Look familiar? If you're of a certain age, you're sure to recall being in the home of a friend or relative who had chosen Coppertone Brown appliances.

Raymond’s cousin Lu Eno Charbonneau has come up with the answer to one of the questions I asked in my last post. Having reminded everyone, whether they wanted to be reminded or not, of the glory days of Avocado Green and Harvest Gold appliances, I made mention of other, shorter-lived colours that subsequently appeared. The two that I remember best are a brown and a red, and I wondered what they were called. Well, Lu has nailed the brown: Coppertone! I’m still trying to find the name (and an image) of the red that was used in appliances of that era, though. Like the Coppertone stove here, the red colour was darker around the edges of the appliance and lighter toward the centre. It was a really deep red, not bright. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I am very fond of red, so always thought (and still think) that kitchens that had those appliances in them looked quite nice. In a late-’70s kind of way.

At the risk of boring everyone with still more information about vintage appliance colours, here’s something interesting I found during my search for the name of the red ones. It’s from a site called colorcombos.com, and it’s from a post called “A Brief History of Kitchen Appliance Color Choices.” I suspect it’ll dredge up still more appliance memories from the mists of the past:

“While white appliances were the only choices initially, by the 1950s colors such as Stratford Yellow, Sherwood Green, Turquoise Green, Cadet Blue, Woodtone Brown, Petal Pink and Canary Yellow offered homemakers exciting new ways to coordinate their kitchens. Cadet Blue and Woodtone Brown proved to be unpopular and were discontinued in less than 10 years as were several of the other colors.

“By 1960 a few new shades had been added and almost as quickly cancelled including an attempt at a charcoal gray. Standard yellow, pink and turquoise were the only real survivors of this color craze. A new color, Coppertone became a popular choice until the 1980s. In fact, Coppertone and turquoise were the two favorite appliance colors, after white, for several years.

“As the later 60’s approached, turquoise was replaced by avocado and a Harvest Gold shade. These became the new stars for the remainder of the 60’s, the 70’s and the early 80’s. Bright Poppy Red made a short appearance in the 70’s but as the decade closed New Naturals had become more popular. Harvest Wheat, Onyx Black, Coffee, Fresh Avocado and Almond were introduced with Almond and Harvest Gold definitely taking the lead. The 80’s saw Coppertone and Avocado fade away.

“From the pastels of the 50’s, the earth tones of the 60’s and the off-whites and return the whites in the 80’s and 90’s, today kitchen designers often choose stainless steel for an efficient utilitarian look or black for sleek sophistication. It may be that as more and more men have become comfortable and active in this part of the house, their opinions about appliance colors are bearing more weight. It’s just hard to picture a man cooking over a pink stove.”

A Frigidaire washing machine whose colour is Poppy Red – not quite the shade I recall from the appliances of the 1970s / early '80s.

I like that last bit, though I would not have much truck with a man who would turn up his nose at cooking over a vintage pink stove.

You’ll note that the post mentions a briefly popular 1970s colour called Bright Poppy Red, and my sister-in-law Eloise Maddox had suggested that that might be the one that I’m remembering. But I looked it up and I don’t think so – it’s brighter than the appliances I remember. Perhaps the colour I’m thinking of was only manufactured in Canada. I am going to get to the bottom of this, but I need your help! Anyone got any suggestions? Better yet, photos?

11 thoughts on “One mystery solved: that colour is called… Coppertone!

  1. Katherine, I’m thinking you were referring to the orange-colored appliances of the 70’s, although I don’t remember seeing many of them. You can check this one out:
    Orange

    Bright, warm orange tones appeared primarily in the early to mid 1970s and was originally popular during the 1960s. Kohler used this color on its appliances from 1974 to 1984 and called it “sunflower.” This color was often paired with harvest gold and brown but was less frequently seen with greens or other cool colors. Orange was less common as a main color for appliances and is mostly seen in enameled cookware, mixers and accents. Only a few large appliances were painted orange, and these are relatively rare today.

    Read more: Colors of Appliances in the 1970s | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/info_8405117_colors-appliances-1970s.html#ixzz1tQMlLos9.

    • This is good info, Lu, but I am dead certain that the colour I’m thinking of wasn’t orange. It was more of a claret colour, in fact. I am really beginning to wonder if it wasn’t something produced only in Canada, not in the U.S. Hoping that by sheer dumb luck I stumble into a kitchen that still has some appliance in that colour, so I can at least get a photo!

  2. See the Elvis movie “Live A Little, Love A Little” in the beginning he’s at a house in Malibu and I think those red appliances are in it. The whole movie is on YouTube.

      • your welcome! I saw that movie for the first time a few days ago and I really liked all the designs, colors and furniture they used from 1968. my wife and I were watching hgtv house hunters and saw avocado colored kitchen appliances in a house, so it got me looking for the washer and dryer I saw in that movie and I came across your blog. good luck, Pat

    • Thanks for this, Christie. Boy, that (Poppy Red) is one loud colour for appliances, is it not? Especially when you put two of them side by side like that. Yikes! Some other readers also suggested that Poppy Red was the colour I’m remembering, but I’m afraid it’s not. I just remember being in a recently remodeled Ontario kitchen in the early 1980s, with appliances that were a very deep (as opposed to bright) red. Perhaps that colour (which must have been short-lived) came a few years after the Avocado Green/Harvest Gold/Coppertone – and, yes, Poppy Red – craze of the 1970s. The mystery deepens…

      But hey, congrats on having a still-functioning Coppertone fridge. Amazing!

    • Hi Jonathan, and thank you for sharing about poppy red! Here’s the odd thing, though: every photo I have been able to find of vintage poppy-red appliances makes them look very bright red, and the colour I remember was not like that; it was a much deeper red, with a brownish (burgundy?) tint at the edges. More and more I am thinking this might have been a brief and only-in-Canada experiment with appliance colours. Too bad, because I thought it was quite beautiful. Ah, those were the days… Before stainless steel took over!

  3. Try Image searching for “Chatelet red stove” and see If that Is It. Chatelet Is the brand, not color, name unfortunately.

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