July 28, 2002


Contact - Dan Williams  1-800-452-4462 ext. 489





Newell, WV—Homer Laughlin China’s famed Fiesta® settings have been found to improve the eating habits of Alzheimer’s patients at a Plantsville, Connecticut health care facility. Food service Director Peter Riccio of the Alzheimer’s Resource Center says he has noticed a definite improvement in the nutritional intake of the patients at his facility, thanks to Fiesta® china.

“Contrast is an important part of setting meals for Alzheimer’s patients,” said Riccio. “They can’t necessarily see a white plate on a white tablecloth, or oatmeal in a white bowl. Patients become more aware of the food in front of them, and are more likely to eat it when there is some differentiation between the food and the setting.”

This observation goes along with information published by the Alzheimer’s Association about caring for dementia patients. “The nutritional problem seen in most patients is weight loss. Weight loss may be due to distractions while eating. The person caring for an Alzheimer’s patient should find ways to encourage food intake and reduce mealtime confusion.” The Alzheimer’s Association suggests, “Put only one item of food on the plate at a time, and avoid patterned plates. Use a contrasting placemat.” (Source: Alzheimer’s Association website.)

Riccio’s facility is home to 120 Alzheimer’s patients. He says he varies the colors of Fiesta® plates that he serves on, and doesn’t use black or white. He considers the food he serves and pairs each meal with a contrasting color. “I wouldn’t put eggs on a yellow plate, for example,” he says. “Using the plates as a stimulator gets them to eat more. I have one patient who prefers all his food on the Cobalt Fiesta®.”

Aside from the contrasting colors, Riccio feels the patients sometimes recognize the famous art deco patterns of Fiesta® that were so popular when they were first introduced in the 1930s. “Fiesta®’s heyday was in the youth of many of our patients. I think they see it and remember it, even if it isn’t always at a conscious level.”                                                          

Riccio was inspired to use the Fiesta® brand of china while he was dining out at a Mexican restaurant. He noticed that the foods served on Fiesta® there made a wonderfully colorful meal, full of contrasts. He brought the idea to his supervisor, who at first was skeptical that it could help the patients.

“But as I was showing my administrator the photos of the Fiesta® china, suddenly something clicked for him. He told me that was the exact same china that he remembered seeing for years at his grandmother’s table at her cabin every summer. He gave me the go ahead to buy the china and try out my theory.”

Riccio says the Fiesta® was a big investment, but a smart one. “Fiesta® wears so well, I end up replacing it less frequently than I did the china I was using before. Our china gets knocked about here quite a bit. Over time, the Fiesta® has actually been a cost savings to me, and it has benefited the patients’ health as well.”

Fiesta® was designed by Frederick Hurton Rhead in1936 and is now among 

the most collected china products in the world. As originally designed, the line featured art deco styling and bold, bright colors. The product was discontinued in 1973 and reissued in 1986 with new contemporary colors to mark its 50th anniversary. 

Fiesta®’s styling complements a wide range of decors. The eleven bold colors complement one another as well as a wide range of interior palettes. Over 50 items in the line provide maximum service options and ensure consistent tabletop styling. The shape allows maximum food plating surface; sculpted concentric rings highlight and frame the food presentation. Alpha Alumina added to the body enhances durability and provides superior heat retention; and like all Homer Laughlin china, Fiesta is lead-free.                                                    

        Editor’s note: Management of The Homer Laughlin China Company is available to discuss Fiesta® or any of their fine 100% lead-free products. Please contact Dan Williams at 1-800-452-4462 ext. 489 or dwilliams@hlchina.com

 For more information about nutrition and Alzheimer’s patients, see Improving Mealtime for Those With Alzheimer’s by Pat Kendall, Ph.D, R.D., Food Science and Human Nutrition Specialist, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, published Jan. 28, 2002.