Star-Bulletin Features

Lynn Blocker Krantz's pink-themed dishes, designed to mark the 75th anniversary of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, sold out in minutes at Macy's in San Francisco.

Dinnerware gives new
color to Hawaii’s past

"HawaiianaWare" has images
from Matson shipboard menus

By Burl Burlingame

Why, these plates are good enough to eat off of. But that's not likely the reason they sold out in minutes at Macy's in San Francisco. Nor why the Royal Hawaiian Hotel chose them as the official commemoratives of their 75th anniversary. Nope. It's likely because they're a charming link to an elegant past.

A teacup reflects the design of the Matson Lurline menus.

In Hawaii, Lynn Blocker Krantz's "HawaiianaWare" will be presented Saturday in the housewares department at Macy's Ala Moana. There will be a drawing for a stay at the Royal Hawaiian, a short video presentation about "Boat Days" at Aloha Tower, and Krantz will sign plates and books after the presentation.

Krantz's affinity for "all things old" even extends to recipes. An original Royal Hawaiian dish called "Chicken Lurline," which Royal Hawaiian sous-chef Warren Uchida has updated to "Saffron Lime Marinated Chicken Breast with Mixed Grains with Wild Mushrooms and Spiced Fruit Chutney," will be served at the Macy's event, along with the classic Royal Hawaiian Bread Pudding.

What's the difference between it and the original Chicken Lurline -- fried chicken topped with cream sauce -- recipe?

Lynn Blocker Krantz, right, will sign her dishware at Macy's on Saturday, as she did last summer during a visit to One Kalakaua. Eleanor Nitta, left, and Phyllis Stranske admired the decorative pieces during a visit to the retirement home.

"It's, aaaaah ... healthier!" giggled Krantz, who we first met several months ago following the publication of her book "To Honolulu in Five Days," a visual history of Matson's passenger-ship era. Both products, it seems, have the same nostalgic cachet for her. Her company is called DishBooks.

"This all started when I began collecting the fabulous menus used by Matson on the Lurline," Krantz said. "They were from murals painted by Eugene Savage in 1937, on 4-by-8 foot panels. There were six in the series, but when the war broke out, they went into storage. The menus became highly sought-after collectors items -- check out the prices on eBay! -- and during the course of research, I discovered the Matson archives in San Francisco."


On view: noon Saturday
Place: The Cellar, in Macy's Ala Moana housewares department
Admission: Free
Call: 941-2345

Matson gave Krantz carte blanche to interpret the paintings as high-quality dishware, and there was so much material that "To Honolulu in Five Days" resulted as a kind of spin-off.

But it turns out that it's easier to publish a book than produce a plate. Research into the production process took a couple of years, with Krantz eventually settling on Fiesta, an American company, with the eight-color underdecals produced in Britain. As it turns out, Fiesta provided the original dinnerware for both Matson and the Royal Hawaiian through the 1960s.

"The images went through many, many tweakings until we had them perfect for the china surfaces," Krantz said. "The decals are then placed on the surfaces as an underglaze, and sealed in with more glazing. The dishes meet industrial food standards -- they could be used in restaurant ovens -- but most folks like them for the Hawaiian designs."

While researching the Royal Hawaiian for her "Five Days" book, Krantz impressed the Royal's management with the sample pieces, and they contracted her to produce their anniversary commemoratives.

The dishes debuted during Macy's Union Square annual Gourmet Show in April and were "a huge hit," said Krantz, sounding a little stunned. "I thought they'd do well, sure, but they were sold out in just a few minutes. And you know what went first? The Royal Hawaiian dishes. People just love the pink, I guess!"

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