Homer Laughlin Still Makes Your Grandmother’s Fiestaware In West Virginia

Homer Laughlin was a real person who started a pottery company in Ohio in 1873. The factory moved to West Virginia about twenty years later, but has stayed in the same town since, now employing about 1,000 people to make a line of dishware that you may recognize: Fiesta.

NPR recently visited the Homer Laughlin factory in Newell, West Virginia, including some neat animated GIFs making and glazing dishes in an infinite loop. You’ve probably eaten in a restaurant or private home that uses Fiesta before. It’s known for its durability, variety of colors, and how some of those colors used to be slightly radioactive. Newer Fiesta dishes are uranium-free, but they’re still using decades-old equipment, in the same factory where the first dishes were created back in the 1920s. The company also makes durable dishes for restaurants and hotels, in addition to the Fiesta Rainbow.

The company isn’t flashy or trend-driven, but has been turning out 36,000 pieces of dishware during every shift for years. Factory workers make decent money, too. “They’re good jobs and they’re making a living, being able to buy a home and raise a family and retire with some dignity,” the head of the union told NPR.

W.Va. Pottery Company Keeps Popular Fiesta Line Thriving [NPR]

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