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