A Hazel-Atlas-produce, Gay Fad-decorated drinking glass for Arizona.
The states in the union take great pride in their uniqueness and individuality. There are state birds, state colors, state flowers, state trees, state songs, state fish and even state mythical creatures. But who ever knew there were state beverages? For those of us who collect, that’s pretty great, because there is also a frosted drinking glass for every state, made by Hazel-Atlas and hand-decorated by the Gay Fad Studios.
The Hazel-Atlas Glass Company was founded in 1902 and became a large supplier of machine-molded glass. They were famous for their Depression glass, milk glass and home canning jars from the 1920s to the 1940s. The glassware was usually molded with its signature mark on the bottom (a capital A nestled underneath a larger capital H) until 1964 when the company was sold.
Meanwhile, Fran Taylor worked from her home in Ohio from 1938 to 1945, hand-painting wastebaskets, metal trays and glass. She was so successful that she hired a staff and opened the Gay Fad Studios in 1945. Her business became the premier decorator for dozens of glass companies until 1963. During those 18 years, Gay Fad produced tens of thousands of decorated ice tea glasses, liquor decanters, juice sets, mugs and shot glasses in a variety of whimsical designs. The company’s employees hand-painted each design onto the glass with specialty paints and then baked it in to assure a durable finish. Occasionally these pieces were signed, usually with two interlocking letters—a G and a backward F.
In the mid-1950s, Gay Fad and Hazel-Atlas joined forces to produce a series of collectible state glasses that were sold at souvenir shops in airports, tourist locales and highway rest stops. Although examples in blue, dark green and red can be found, the majority of the glasses were painted in pink, orange or yellow. Each glass featured a goofy picture of the state along with the state motto and several iconic drawings. Indians, wagon trains, oil wells, monuments, buildings, snow skiers, lakes, farmers, corn stalks, bucking broncos, plantation homes, famous parks, cacti, pilgrims, fishermen and so on were all chosen for unique state representation.
These glasses are fun to collect and a few states can be very difficult to find. Some people collect them all and some just collect the states that they’ve visited. Others collect their own state in all of the different Gay Fad colors. They sell for $2 to $25 each.
But back to those state beverages . . . Naturally it is fun to serve them in their own state glasses. However, only 29 states have declared a state beverage and 18 of those chose milk! The rest of the states need to catch up.
Here’s a toast to the states that have been brave enough to name a unique drink:
• Alabama (whiskey)
• California (wine)
• Florida (orange juice)
• Indiana (water)
• Maine (Moxie)
• Massachusetts (cranberry juice)
• Nebraska (Kool-Aid)
• New Hampshire (apple cider)
• Ohio (tomato juice)
• Rhode Island (coffee milk)
• South Carolina (tea)
Maine gets the nod for the most imaginative drink. Moxie is a soda pop that was one of the first mass-produced soft drinks in the United States. It was created in 1876 (supposedly for medicinal reasons) and began to be sold as a carbonated beverage in 1884. Flavored with wintergreen and gentian root extracts, it has a unique flavor that is not as sweet as other sodas and is described by some as bitter (or even cough-syrupy). Today, this regional drink is mostly found in Pennsylvania, Maine and other northeastern states. Moxie is the main ingredient in the New Englander cocktail, so that recipe is included this month. The cocktail definitely demands an acquired taste, but it has many avid defenders who love it:
New Englander Cocktail
1 part Gin
2-3 parts Moxie
1 large slice lime
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
Serve over ice
Rhode Island can also claim a truly unique beverage. Coffee milk is similar to chocolate milk, but it is made with a sweet, coffee-flavored syrup instead of chocolate syrup. The drink is sold by the glass or by the half-pint (in a waxed cardboard carton). It was introduced in drugstores in the early 1930s and can only be found in Rhode Island. However, it is easy to get coffee syrup online from several different companies (such as Autocrat). It can also be made from scratch:
Make a pot of coffee using a percolator (not a drip coffee maker). Discard the grounds, add fresh grounds, and make another pot using the first pot’s coffee as the liquid (instead of water). Repeat. The result will be the equivalent of three pots of coffee in one pot so it will be very strong.
Measure the finished coffee. Add half as much sugar to this mixture. Mix until the sugar is completely dissolved.
2 tablespoons coffee syrup
8 ounces cold milk
Liz Holderman is a Worthologist who specializes in collectible books. “Dining with Antiques” is an ongoing feature in which she highlights usable collectible dinnerware, along with vintage recipes.
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