By Christina VanGinkel
Little Red Riding Hood is much more than a fairy tale told to children when they are little to teach them why it is not a good idea to talk to strangers. It is also a highly collectible set of kitchen accessories manufactured by the Hull Ware Company and painted by the Regal Company. I was once the proud owner of their cookie jar, sugar and creamer, teapot, salt and pepper, and a covered butter dish, all manufactured in the image of Little Red Riding Hood by the Hull Ware Company. The cookie jar and the teapot were my favorites. The cookie jar portrayed her carrying a little yellow basket, and the teapot had the flowers around her skirt upside down. I always wondered about the person who decorated it, wondering if they noticed what they had done, or even if they did it on purpose. Either way, it made the teapot that much more special.
Originally manufactured in the early 1940's, my set most likely landed in the home of a farm wife or other homemaker who enjoyed having the red and white decorative set to spruce up her kitchen. It was later purchased by my father as a second hand set for my mother to use at their home, a farm in the small town of Amasa, Michigan. When the farm was sold years later, it went into storage. It was not pulled out again until my oldest sister was married. She used it in her kitchen for several years until she could afford a set that she liked. As she told me years later, she was never fond of the red color that was so prominent on each of the pieces. It then came into my possession, when I was first married, and I used the pieces as they were originally intended, as a cookie jar, salt and pepper, sugar, creamer, etc. When I moved to a new home a few years later, it moved with me, but I retired it to a china cabinet and just enjoyed looking at it. It was one of my fondest possessions, in part because it was something that my father bought for my mother, but mostly just because. I liked the red color; I liked the story of Little Red herself. A tea drinker, I did continue to use the teapot with sugar and creamer for special occasions.
Then, as things happen, my husband was injured in an accident, and with no insurance, as he was self-employed; we sold some of our possessions to make it through the seven-month long recuperation. One of the first things I sold was my Little Red Riding Hood set. A collector who came over to buy some of my postcard collection that I was willing to sell, offered me a sum of money that today seems likes a pittance, but at that time was enough to pay two month's worth of mortgage and still have a few dollars left over to purchase some groceries. That anyone would be willing to pay me for such a collection was a surprise in itself, but I always felt guilty about it. I phoned my Mother before agreeing, and asked her if it was ok, and her reply was that it was just a kitchen set, it could always be replaced, and maybe that is why I had ended up with it in the first place. She was always the levelheaded thinker, never sentimental about what she referred to as 'things'.
I had always told my daughter when she was little though, that someday the set would be hers. Even though she was just a small child when I sold it, she was so grown up about it, telling me that it was ok, that as long as it was helping Daddy, that she did not care if we had to give it away. This brings me to today. I have decided that I am going to try to replace the set, piece by piece, for my daughter. The price on the pieces today are recognition of what a fun set it was and is today to both own and to collect. I am sure it will take me many years to gather them all together, and browsing through pieces of the set online at Ebay and a few other antique and collectible sites, I see that there are pieces to the set that I never knew existed. Wish me luck!