When 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 and its longstanding place in the American zeitgeist, this particular moment in interior design history deserves to be acknowledged.
Q. When was Avocado introduced as a color on kitchen appliances like stoves, refrigerators, and dishwashers?
Q. Who introduced it?
A. General Electric and — update: it looks like Whirlpool (and maybe Amana), too!
Well, 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 and influenced me to be interested in the timeline.
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.
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: A reader reports they have two Whirlpool kitchen appliances — a cook top and a vent hood — that are avocado and were installed in 1965. So far, I (1) found a Whirlpool ad from 1966 that shows a variety of kitchen appliances in a variety of colors — including a dishwasher in avocado. So, I am presuming that both companies — GE and Whirlpool — had suites of kitchen appliances in Avocado in 1966. But can we validate 1965 in marketing materials or media reports?
Further UPDATE: Reader Duane writes:
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. The question now is open to validate with published materials: Did Westinghouse really bring Avocado to KITCHEN APPLIANCES to market in ’65, one year before GE? And, now we need to check Amana, too!
Of course, after these companies 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. BlueStar … Big Chill … Elmira 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!