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the ColorFlyte

Historical Archive

 
 
the History of Branchell ColorFlyte Tableware
A brief, marginally accurate, and completely biased view of the background
and origin of ColorFlyte Dinnerware
 
 
 
 
grub, anyone?
 
 
 
 
July 1998
 
The Secretary of State, of the State of Missouri graciously provided
some information about the Branchell Company.  In doing so,
she has set herself apart from the numerous others that have
sent form letters explaining that they probably have plenty of
information in their files but that they
can't justify taking the time to look.
 
The Branchell Company was formed on May 26, 1952, and
registered its' address as 1610 Hampton Avenue, Saint Louis.  If memory
serves, I was a 4-month old embryo at that time.
The company was listed as a four-way partnership, with
partners Edward Belwich and Ernest Hellmich dividing 65.2%
ownership equally between the two of them.  The
other two partners are listed as Emil Bellmich and Karl Kross.
All four owners listed Missouri residences.  I have to wonder if
Belwich and Hellmich picked Bellmich because they thought it
would be cool to have someone with half of each of their names,
or perhaps he was some half-human half plastic being,
like the Cybermen that liked to pester Dr. Who, but with
ColorFlyte-colored parts!!  Hell's Bells!
I suppose he could be stopped with scouring powder...
 
A special mahalo to Madam Secretary Rebecca McDowell Cook for
helping to bring Branchell history to light .
 
 
 
Origins
 
The Branchell company was a division or a subsidiary of Lenox Plastics,
with company addresses on Oleatha Avenue in St. Louis, MO and
in San Francisco, CA.  World War II was over, but in the early 1950's,
the American Housewife had declared war on dinnerware that would chip
or break, or that couldn't stand up to being washed in the electric,
Auto Matic dish-washer.  She deserved the best the Atomic Age had to offer,
and she got it.
 
 
.
The purpose and philosophy of ColorFlyte
 
 Branchell stunned the Modern World with an affordable new line of
thermoplastic dinnerware in bold, beautiful colors that were the envy
of the Boss' wife, and which could also stand up to Junior's plate-chucking shennanigans.  ColorFlyte was designed by Kaye LaMoyne, to be both
glamorous and indestructible.   It was the one dinnerware that was
considered equally well-suited to a hasty luncheon or a hoity-toity holiday
dinner.  It could be used without a care in the world to serve scraps to
some abandoned cat, or to add sparkle to a candlelight dinner at a
seven-star hotel.  Grease monkeys and Hollywood Stars alike preferred
ColorFlyte to breakable "china".  At the time, China was full of starving communists with very poor credit ratings and no fins on their cars.
 
  With Branchell's new ColorFlyte Melmac, the Jane Jetsons and
June Cleavers of Space-Age America could rocket through the day
without a care in the world, beginning with a breakfast fit for a king,
some liesurely vacuuming and a few soap operas, Tupperized
leftovers for lunch for the little baby-boom, and a V-8 trip to the
Super Market.  As a perfect conclusion to another perfect day,
she would have a hytone dinner on the table for the family and company
at exactly six o'clock, without missing a single hoofbeat.  With power
available at the push of a button, everything was a snap.
Instant cleanup, secret ingredients, wash-day miracles and
penicillin helped make life whiter and brighter.
 
  Of course, the table setting for all of these meals could be none other
than the versatile and deceptively rugged ColorFlyte by Branchell,
which was usually sold on a door-to-door basis and not, as I reported
earlier, as open stock at your nearby Sears-Roebuck.  ColorFlyte
came with a one-year, money-back guarantee against breakage.
ColorFlyte - both stunningly gorgeous and virtually impossible
to bust into skillions of teensy little pieces.
 
 
Trademarks
 
Branchell offered two named lines of dinnerware as open stock:
ColorFlyte and Royale (the latter sometimes appearing as "ColorFlyte
Royale").  I am told that the Royale trademark preceded ColorFlyte.
In addition, some print patterns were also available.  As far
as I can tell, Branchell used the Branchell trademark and the ColorFlyte
trademark interchangably or even indiscriminately on the familiar mottled
Glow Copper, Mist Grey, Spray Lime, and Glade Green shades of melmac.
Those are the colors depicted as backgrounds and elsewhere around
this website.  The Royale colors, known as Flame Pink,Turquoise Blue,
Charcoal Grey, and Gardenia White, are shown in the
figure below, taken from original scans of tableware in these colors.
the original "Royale" colors
 
It has also been speculated that the ColorFlyte trademark was
replaced at some point by the more generic Branchell trademark for
business or legal reasons, but I really don't know about this.
Incidentally, the original scans of these 4 colors serving as
the wallpaper image on these pages are not copyrighted, so please
feel free to download them.
 
A small percentage of pieces appearing nearly identical to the
orange, light grey, and 2 shades of green ColorFlyte melmac are
floating around with no identifying marks whatsoever on them.
Most collectors seem to agree that these are worth somewhat less than
the logo-labeled pieces.  There are at least a couple schools of thought
about these, evidently based on guesswork. One is that they are
counterfiet, which is something of an amusing concept.  It would take an underachiever of a criminal to hustle fake melmac, but stranger things
have happened.  That would be a little like a counterfieter deciding to
try nickels.  And the second is that they were made by
Branchell without labelling, possibly for contracted production
for large institutional orders.
 
 
 
The simple elegance of the design, graced
with understated accents, have made ColorFlyte a lasting
and coveted icon of the 50's.
 
 
 
faithfully submitted by Poptard
who reminds you to drink, responsibly.
And as often as possible, from a Branchell tumbler!!
See you in the thrift shops!!
 
return to The ColorFlyte Shrine
check out the online ColorFlyte trading post-office
return to The Pickled Piper
visit Beer-o-rama, my Geocities Home Page
 
 
 
 
Questions, comments, corrections, and contributions are are welcome!
For acknowledgments, click here!
  last updated September, 1998
 
 freebeer@mailexcite.com
 
 
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