A spot of vintage colour

Fluffo canI had one thought, and one thought only, when I spotted the item you see above in a giant antiques flea-market place recently. It was this:

“How did they get into my grandmother’s kitchen?”

I hadn’t seen a tin like that for close to four decades – maybe longer. But it was instantly familiar, because my maternal grandmother, Reta Keay, always had one on the counter in her kitchen. Colourfully painted exterior; plastic lid with a clever design that made it easy to grab and lift off. (This was long, long before those clever and ergonomically friendly Oxo Good Grips kitchen tools had been invented.)

But what was in that tin in my grandmother’s kitchen? I realized when I saw this one, all these years later, that I didn’t have a clue.

So I examined the tin in the antiques flea market a little more closely. On the side I discovered, sideways in small print, the very familiar name of the maker of the product that was once inside:

Fluffo can Procter and Gamble

And the mystery was completely solved when I turned the tin over and had a look at the bottom:

Fluffo can bottom

Fluffo! Do you remember Fluffo? It was a brand of shortening that was in wide use for whatever shortening is used for – can you tell I’m not a baker? – for, I gather, much, or maybe all, of the last century. Here’s none other than 60 Minutes newsman Mike Wallace (with some help from Mrs. Thelma Styra, Indiana State Fair Baking Champion) extolling its virtues back in 1955:

However, my (admittedly brief) search for Fluffo information online suggests that it is no longer with us.

What is still with us, however, is my brightly coloured Fluffo tin – because of course I had to buy it. (And at something like $7, it wasn’t much of a reach.) I like the fact that it can be used for storing pretty much anything – which is what I imagine my grandmother and many housewives like her did with their colourful Fluffo tins once the Fluffo was gone. It is the dimmest of dim memories, but I kind of think my grandmother kept her homemade cookies in that Fluffo tin, after lining it with waxed paper. (Waxed paper! Remember getting your sandwiches wrapped in that?)

I found some images online of similar Fluffo tins for sale at places like Etsy. Here is a link to someone selling a pair of them, one of which is just like mine. And here’s a little gallery of some of the others:

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I couldn’t agree more with the Etsy seller’s description of their “colourful retro outline graphics in a fun funky pattern,” and his suggestion that they are “perfect to add a spot of vintage colour” to your kitchen.

That’s exactly what my newly acquired vintage Fluffo canister is doing right now at the Manse: adding a spot of vintage colour. Well, that – and bringing me happy memories of my grandmother’s long-ago kitchen.

6 thoughts on “A spot of vintage colour

  1. I’m thinking, Katherine….how far away is this 7-day a week flea market? Is it something that we could do while we are there in Queensborough? I’ll bet I could find a treasure or two to bring home!!

    • Hi Jeannie! That antiques mall in a pretty dull stretch of suburbia on the eastern edge of Toronto – not exactly the kind of place we’d want to take two visitors from New England on a day trip from Queensborough! We only stopped at it because we were passing through on our way to the other side of the city. But the good news is: there is an antiques emporium in the much-closer (and much-nicer-to-visit) city of Peterborough, so perhaps that can be an excursion come early April!

      • Hi, Katherine – thanks for that bit of information. I guess we can tell Raymond to add that to the agenda! 🙂

      • An excellent plan! You’ll find the stuff at antiques barns and flea markets here is often a little different from what you find in Maine and the rest of New England. New finds!

  2. Until a few years ago, my mother always stocked up on Fluffo when she travelled from her home in B.C. to visit relatives in Saskatchewan, because that was the only place she could find it. She claims it is essential for a decent pie crust. Alas, on her last few visits she hasn’t been able to find it. So perhaps it, too, has become a relic of the past.

    • Elinor, I was quite thunderstruck to have the internet inform me last night that Fluffo, a staple of every kitchen I knew for so many years, is apparently no longer around. In honour of your mum, I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for it. Perhaps it’s still to be found stateside; I’ll check it out when Raymond and I visit New England this summer.

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