Corning Ware Profile: Buffet Servers (1964)
Round Corning Ware cookware was introduced in 1964 with the Buffet Server product line. Advertising described it as elegant, versatile and timeless, complementing "both traditional and contemporary, formal and informal table settings". The development of this line was prompted by consumer surveys that discovered "an increase in informal buffet style entertaining", and also responded to "interest in larger oven-to-table serving dishes".
Corning Ware Buffet Server, 4 Qt Dutch oven.
Initially Buffet Servers were offered in plain white only. Lids are also made of Corning Ware with a black bakelite knob attached. Sizes are: 1 Qt saucepan (B-1), 1¾ Qt saucepan (B-1¾), 2½ Qt saucepan (B-2½), 8½" skillet (B-8½), 10" skillet (B-10), 4 Qt Dutch oven (B-4).
Buffet Server with Red lid, 1¾ Qt. This lid is made of Centura, but most lids are made of Corning Ware.
Buffet Servers became more vivid in 1965 with the addition of bright solid-coloured lids in Red or Yellow. In this case, lids are made of Centura rather than Corning Ware. The cookware itself remained plain white, and the red and yellow lids are topped by the same black knob. These colour choices might have been short-lived, but the original plain white Buffet Servers were still available during early 1968.
4 Qt Buffet Server with cradle, metal with wooden handles.
The cradles provided with Buffet Servers are what make them ideal for serving buffets. A slot at the back of the cradle enables the lid to be held upright and conveniently out of the way while food is being served, and a flat area on either side was suggested as a resting place for a serving spoon. The cradle could be used with an optional candle warmer accessory too.
Avocado Round & Butterscotch Round
The Buffet Server brand name disappeared, but the shape returned with Avocado Round in 1968. The body of the cookware has a solid-coloured exterior and the lid is white. The attached round knob, also avocado green, is made of some type of ceramic. Introduced in 1969, Butterscotch Round is decorated in the same manner, but in a shade of harvest gold.
(Photo: Butterscotch Round 8½" skillet.)
All Buffet Server sizes were offered in both Avocado and Butterscotch, namely: 1 Qt saucepan (B-1), 1¾ Qt saucepan (B-1¾), 2½ Qt saucepan (B-2½), 8½" skillet (B-8½), 10" skillet (B-10), 4 Qt Dutch oven (B-4).
Corning Ware Avocado Round, sizes shown are probably 2½ Qt, 1 Qt, and 10" skillet. Image from 1968 advertisement.
Avocado & Butterscotch colours also appeared on 1¾ Qt & 2½ Qt square casseroles paired with Royal Buffet candle warmers in special sets. This time, the co-ordinating ceramic knob is threaded onto a clear Pyrex lid. A muted wrap-around version of Floral Bouquet with a white knob was also offered in this type of set.
Avocado & Butterscotch Round were dropped in 1970, but at the same time, a new set of square Corning Ware in harvest gold was introduced. It was named Harvest, and ordinary clear Pyrex lids were provided. Sizes are: 1 Qt, 1½ Qt, 1¾ Qt.
(Photo: Harvest 1 Qt casserole or saucepan. This colour is deeper and more vivid than Butterscotch.)
Centura Cook 'n' Serve Series
When Centura Tableware debuted, white Corning Ware casseroles with an unusual shape were offered as an accessory. Collectively, they were called the Cook 'n' Serve series. That shape was discontinued, and about 1968 the round Buffet Server shape joined the Cook 'n' Serve series. Initially only a plain white version was offered, in which all Buffet Server sizes were available, except for the 4 Qt Dutch oven.
Centura's Cook 'n' Serve White can be distinguished easily from the original white Buffet Servers by its backstamp and its knob. It is stamped with the Centura logo, and the attached knob on the glass-ceramic lid is round and white. Although it is marked Centura, the cookware is not made of Centura; it is definitely Corning Ware because it is meant for stovetop use.
Selected Centura patterns, Laurel, Lynnwood, and Summerhill, appear on certain Buffet Server sizes: 1 Qt, 1¾ Qt, 2½ Qt. Lids are patterned and have an attached ceramic knob, while the body of the casserole is solid-coloured. The white version was suggested as a match for White Coupe, White Narrow Rim and White Sculptured Rim.
Centura Cook 'n' Serve Corning Ware: Laurel, White, Lynnwood, Summerhill. Images from 1972 catalogue.
Round Spice O' Life & Merry Mushroom
In the mid 1970s Spice O' Life and Merry Mushroom revived the Buffet Server shape with the brand name "Corning Ware Round", and all sizes were made in both patterns. These newer choices came with distinctively shaped clear Pyrex lids which are borrowed from the Sculptured Ovenware product line.
Merry Mushroom Corning Ware was exclusively marketed by Sears in 1975. A collection of round Spice O' Life Corning Ware was offered in JC Penney catalogues during 1974, but the exact introduction date is unknown. It is not clear whether Spice O' Life in this shape was exclusive to that retailer, but it is possible, as it seems that other stores did not advertise it.
Merry Mushroom, 1 Qt saucepan/casserole, with sculptured Pyrex lid.
Three lid sizes fit six different Buffet Servers, and since both Pyrex and glass-ceramic lids have no model numbers, their only identifying feature is their diameters. Pyrex lids have a wider rim than glass-ceramic ones, so they measure about ¼" wider. These measurements are from Pyrex lids: 7¾" lid fits 1 Qt saucepan & 1¾ Qt saucepan; 8¾" lid fits 2½ Qt saucepan & 8½" skillet; 10½" lid fits 10" skillet & 4 Qt Dutch oven.
Glass-ceramic lids are made of either Corning Ware or Centura. Corning Ware lids (plain white, Laurel, Lynnwood, Summerhill) are thicker and a lot heavier. Centura lids (solid Red or Yellow) can be identified by three small imperfections on the underside that form a triangle. In manufacturing Centura there is a glazing process during which the item rests on three pins, and they leave little unglazed spots on the bottom of every piece.
The attached knobs on glass-ceramic lids, whether bakelite or ceramic, are a weakness for this product. They are joined to the lid with a metal pin or screw, and because the lids are very heavy, this connection can loosen with regular use. The round ceramic knobs seem particularly vulnerable, and they can crumble from the inside, even to the point of falling off. This material is not as durable as glass-ceramic and the knobs are prone to crazing as well.
Since glass-ceramic lids contain a metal piece in addition to bakelite or an unidentified ceramic, they are not suitable for microwave use, even if they happen to be Corning Ware rather than Centura.
Buffet Server shapes manufactured both before and after 1972 have the same narrow tab handles. They are compatible with the older type of detachable handle which remained available for purchase into the late 1970s. An exception is the Dutch oven, which has very wide and hefty tab handles, not compatible with any detachable handle.
White handles were meant to go with Avocado & Butterscotch Round, all four patterns of Centura Cook 'N' Serve, and Spice O' Life. Merry Mushroom and the original Buffet Servers in white, red or yellow came with regular black handles.
1968 Advertisement: Corning Ware
Corning Ware Profile: Centura Cook 'n' Serve
Centura Tableware Profiles
Centura Gallery: Centura Accessories
Centura Gallery: Laurel, Lynnwood, Summerhill
Centura Gallery: White Coupe, White Narrow Rim, White Sculptured Rim
Pyrex Profile: Sculptured Ovenware
Corelle Profile: Spice O' Life
Corning Ware Profile: Merry Mushroom
Compare Floral Bouquet Variations
Which products are safe for microwave use?