If you spent a certain amount of money at Grand Union shortly after the 1976 bicentennial, you'd be rewarded with one or more additions to your blossoming collection of Liberty Blue — a beautiful dinnerware pattern developed by the Royal China Company for promotional use in the supermarket chain. In mid-century America, it was not uncommon to receive dinnerware handouts in exchange for purchases not just in grocery stores, but at other businesses, too. Movie theaters once held "Dish Nights," at which they'd hand out free dinnerware to all attendees. The more you attended, the larger your set!
If your own mother didn't use one of these patterns as her everyday dinnerware, it's highly probable that someone you knew did. But don't think they're still free — these dishes offer up such a heavy dose of nostalgia that they they've become highly collectible. Here are a few of our favorite patterns, as well as some Etsy sellers who can help you complete your collections (that is, since the A&P no longer will).
Add a splash of old school Americana to your dinner table by snatching up your own set of Liberty Blue plates — they're $19.50 each at .
The Blue Willow pattern depicts folklore scenes with Chinese characters and motifs. In classic blue and white, it was one of the most popular of supermarket promotional sets. is selling a multi-piece set for $94.
Blue Heaven was a promotional design produced by the Royal China Company of Sebring, Ohio — a big player in grocery store dinnerware lines. Head on over to to snag a 10-piece set for $42. One can never have enough turquoise!
Royal China Company's immensely popular Currier and Ives collection was produced for several decades and came in multiple colors and scenes, among them "The Birthplace of Washington," "Early Winter," and "Low Water in the Mississippi." Three plates decorated in "The Old Grist Mill" scene can be purchased for $24 at .
This elegant mid-century modern pattern — known as Swiss Chalet Alpine — was used as a promotional line for both grocery stores and gas stations. A set of six bread and butter plates can be purchased for $26 at .
The supermarket trend might have been spurred by the success that the DUZ laundry detergent brand experienced when they began inserting a free piece of Golden Wheat dinnerware into each package. The pattern was produced for approximately 20 years by the Homer Laughlin Co., and is one of the most recognizable of all promotional dinnerware lines. Grab a few luncheon plates for $12 a pop at .
Known as Trellis, this dainty pattern was one of many designs that graced the breakfast set pieces found inside packages of Quaker oatmeal in the 1920s and '30s. Snatch up this adorable teacup and saucer for $12.95 at .
We'd give our eye-teeth to open up a box of oatmeal and discover brilliant green sandwich glass inside. Anchor Hocking developed these beauties for Quaker Oats Company — today, a set of six glasses retails for $27.50 at .