From festive confetti ware to practical hand mixers, these homespun helpers stir up the sweetest of memories.
Starting at $25
Plastic factories began churning out speckled melamine mixing bowls—made from rejects and scraps left over from the production of solid-colored melamine dishware—in the 1940s. "Texas Ware," made at the Dallas-based Plastics Manufacturing Company through the 1980s, is the most coveted within the category. (Look for the distinctive Texas Ware stamp on the bottom.) While unmarked bowls can start at $25, a brightly colored Texas Ware bowl calls for more dough—as much as $80.
Starting at $15
Also referred to as waist aprons or cocktail aprons, these sweet kitchen coverups had their heyday in the '50s and '60s, showing up on the popular stars of television hits like Father Knows Best, I Love Lucy, and The Donna Reed Show. Unlike their more durable counterparts—smocks and bib aprons made from hard-working canvas and heavy cotton—lightweight half aprons were designed more for martini making. Those with embroidered and rick rack detailing run from $15 to $20.
Starting at $10
Before electric mixers became a kitchen mainstay in the mid 1960s, these small-but-mighty tools, often referred to as egg beaters and featuring colorful wood or plastic handles, made it easier to beat eggs, blend dough, and whip cream. Brand names like Maynard and Flint can be found for about $10 to $20 each. For some extra- special pinks, greens, and oranges, search for devices made with Bakelite.
Starting at $6
Typically spiral-bound, these time-honored recipe compilations feature "best of" bites from ladies' clubs, church congregations, garden clubs, and more. You can't go wrong with classics like Charleston Receipts (the oldest Junior League cookbook still in print; original 1950 printings are hard to come by!), but don't discount lesser-known bargain-bin gems, sometimes coveted solely for their retro titles or sweetly humble cover designs. For similar tasty treasuries, feast your eyes on the offerings at and .
Starting at $5
These tiny little vaults of culinary wisdom—usually made of tin or wood— rose to popularity after women's magazines such as Ladies' Home Journal and McCall's launched recipe subscription services in the 1930s. And while the Internet has since edged them off many a kitchen countertop, they still get high marks for easy, old-fashioned access (no charged battery required) and their instant heirloom status (a box full of recipes, complete with scribbled notes in the margin, is essentially a culinary time capsule).