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When was Avocado introduced as a color on kitchen appliances?

avocado color in kitchensWhen was Avocado introduced as a kitchen appliance color? On various sites, I’ve seen the answer to this question generalized as “the 1960s”. But, there is a real answer, and given the popularity of the color, along with its longstanding place in the American zeitgeist, this particular moment in interior design history deserves to be acknowledged.

So:

Q. When was Avocado introduced as a color on kitchen appliances like stoves, refrigerators, and dishwashers?

A. 1966, for sure.

But…. update: 1965, maybe – but needs retail documentation to definitively declare it so. 

And

Q. Who introduced it?

A. General Electric, to the best of my knowledge so far.

GE introduces Avocado color appliances in 1966Well, that’s to the best of my knowledge and ongoing research  — and according to longtime reader Patrick, who has done extensive research on kitchen appliance colors. Many thanks to Patrick, whose research on made this story possible and who influenced me to be interested in color timelines overall!

Avocado kitchen appliances “hand-in-hand with the Danish modern look of the late 1960s.”

In an infographic from their c. 2012 press room, link here: >>http://pressroom.geappliances.com/_gallery/get_file/?file_id=529fac03fe058b269b0215cf << GE says:

1966: Mix-or-Match Colors [introduced in 1955] gave way to Coppertone (1964), Avocado (1966) and Harvest Gold (1968) — all of which were darkened around the front edges of the appliances. These new colors went hand-in-hand with the Danish modern look of the late 1960s. During this time, color remained a critical factor for fashion-conscious consumers.

1970s kitchen appliance colors from GE

Ten years later — in 1976 — GE launched “Fresh Avocado.” Googling around, I see that Fresh Avocado did not have the darkening around the front edges. The Harvest Gold also became Harvest Wheat — and still looked quit harvest gold-y — and also did not have darkened edges.

Research continues: 1966 — or 1965?

UPDATE: Reader Duane writes:

Hi Pam!

I have an extensive collection of automotive paint chips, and also a few appliance chips, too. I’ve got a set of chips from 1965 from PPG that shows Avocado as a mixed color (actually 3 separate colors), which means someone was using it for that year (PPG made paint for Whirlpool, Amana, and GE).

This is great info — thank you, Duane! However, I would still like to see documentation of Avocado actually used in 1965 on major kitchen appliances. So far, I (2) find Westinghouse advertisements from 1964 for a light harvest-y gold washing machine, and from 1965 for a brown washer and dryer. In ’64, it looks like Westinghouse refrigerators (and likely suites of kitchen appliances) were still in pastels. 

Pam back: Hmmm. I wonder if, like automakers, appliance makers introduced model-year products in the fall or even a bit earlier. That is, could “1966” model fridges etc. actually have been available in the latter half of ’65?

Of course, after GE launched Avocado in 1966, many other manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon with their own avocado appliances. I tend to think that Avocado was more popular than Harvest Gold, but that’s a guess from seeing lots of vintage kitchens over the years. 

I don’t know when the last Avocado kitchen appliance bid its farewell to the mainstream manufacturer-led marketplace. Kohler says that their avocado sinks, tubs and toilets spanned 1967-1979. I will guess that for kitchen stoves, refrigerators and dishwashers, one or more manufactures likely hung in there until … some time into the late 1980s. What do you think?

Today (2020) there are several manufacturers who again will get you this color or get it close. BlueStarBig ChillElmira Stoveworks/Northstar … all offer an expansive selection of colors for stoves, refrigerators and dishwasher panels. Kitchenaid even introduced an Avocado Cream range in 2020. 

So there you have it: Avocado kitchen appliances, hello 1966 (or maybe 1965, for now, pending any further data!) — and back again!

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  1. Patrick Coffey says:

    The 1966 Westinghouse ad is really a Whirlpool ad and it is not from 1966 or 1967 it is from 1968. The reason I know this is because the ad is for Whirlpool appliances. If the ad were from 1966-67 it would be for RCA Whirlpool appliances. Whirlpool appliances were marketed as RCA Whirlpool appliances from 1956 to 1967.

  2. Patrick Coffey says:

    Actually the revised Avocado color that GE introduced in 1976 was called Fresh Avocado not Avocado Cream.

  3. Amber says:

    This is a picture of a stove and not a washer and dryer, but on on page 48 of this booklet from 1957, you will find a dark brown stove. https://archive.org/details/TheBookOfPeaseHomesFor1957_132/page/n47/mode/2up
    It’s maybe a little less red, but it’s pretty close in color to coppertone. It is a flat color though, no darkening around the edges. I would guess that dark brown was the first of that color triad to take off. It seems like I remember seeing other dark brown stoves and washers from the late 50s/early 60s, but who knows if that is accurate.

  4. Kelly Wittenauer says:

    In 1968, friends of my parents bought a new home under construction. They chose Avocado for the kitchen appliances. We once owned a home built in 1976, with original range, hood, dishwasher & fridge in Harvest Gold. Another house we had was built somewhere between the late ’60s & mid ’70s. The stove, fridge & dishwasher were newer. But the range hood was Harvest Gold, as were the tubs/showers, sinks & toilets in all 3 bathrooms. So I’d bet the rest of the original kitchen appliances were as well.

  5. Amber says:

    What I’ve seen just from pictures is that the avocado-y colors and other muted greens in the house seemed like they were restricted to colors on things other than large appliances in the 50s, but not actual stoves, dishwashers, or laundry machines, large appliances until the 60s. One thing I find interesting is that you do sometimes come across old versions of stainless steel appliances, so apparently it was period appropriate during certain times, just not that popular! I don’t know how to link pictures into the comments (so I won’t even try) but on page 50 of this booklet you’ll see pale avacado-like cabinets in a 1957 kitchen, with a stainless steel oven. The next page has another stainless steel dishwasher. Funny how things take off or don’t at certain times.
    https://archive.org/details/TheBookOfPeaseHomesFor1957_132/page/n49/mode/1up

  6. Duane W says:

    Hi Pam!

    I have an extensive collection of automotive paint chips, and also a few appliance chips, too. I’ve got a set of chips from 1965 from PPG that shows Avocado as a mixed color (actually 3 separate colors), which means someone was using it for that year (PPG made paint for Whirlpool, Amana, and GE). I can email photos of the chips if you’d like to see them.

    1. pam kueber says:

      @ Duane, thanks for this info! I will add this info to the story! Although — I’d still like to see documentation of the colors actually ON large kitchen appliances!

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