Few kitchen items are as cheerful and welcoming as a cookie jar. Whether it's a rare McCoy Mammy jar kept behind glass or just a colorful clown container placed within easy reach for the kids, a vintage cookie jar is exactly the sort of thing you want to get your hand caught in!

Decorative cookie jars as a category of vintage kitchenware first appeared in the United States in the early 1930s, although a 10-inch-tall ceramic cookie jar in the shape of a trash can from Brush Kolorkraft of Roseville, Ohio has been dated to 1929.

Other early cookie-jar manufacturers include McKee Glass Company of Pennsylvania (glass manufacturers were the first to capitalize on the public’s desire for cookie jars) and Louisville Pottery, which made lidded jars for the Harper J. Ransburg Company of Indiana. Ransburg is credited with being an early contributor to the cookie-jar genre because the firm hand-painted so many of them—a quarter-million a year during its heyday in the 1930s. Designs ranged from floral patterns, Davy Crockett coonskin caps, Humpty Dumpty, and Mary and her little lamb.

McCoy Pottery, also of Roseville, Ohio, joined the cookie-jar fray in the late 1930s. By no means the first, McCoy is arguably one of the most important and sought-after names in this category. McCoy’s first figural cookie jar was Mammy with Cauliflower (Blackamoor figures were associated with good eating during the ’30s). Other Mammy jars featured large women whose equally spacious dresses formed the bases of the jars. The words “Dem cookies shor am good” on the outside of one jar from 1944 were replaced in 1946 with the far-less offensive “Cookies.”

Another sought-after cookie-jar manufacturer was American Bisque of West Virginia, which excelled at character and people jars. They made grannies, clowns, and chefs; Dutch girls and boys (sometimes in pairs); and many different iterations of Davy Crockett. American Bisque also produced jars featuring the likenesses of licensed cartoon characters such as Popeye, Yogi Bear (holding a sign that reads “BETTER THAN AVERAGE COOKIES”), Fred Flintstone, and Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Many manufacturers, including American Bisque, produced countless jars in the shapes of animals. Pigs were especially popular— American Bisque is known for its “paws in pockets” jars. Other pink-cheeked creatures included elephants, kittens and puppies, lamps, and rabbits.

In the postwar era, countless ceramics companies made cookie jars. Sought-after producers include Brush Pottery, whose cows with cat finials and circus horses from the 1950s are tough to find in good condition. Purington Pottery made jars shaped like Howdy Doody heads, while Red Wing Stoneware produced Dutch girls, bunches of grapes, and chefs in assorted colors. Those are all nice, but the prizes for Red Wing are the cinnamon-colored King of Tarts jars and any color of cabbage jar you can find...

Regal China Company cranked out umpteen versions of Little Red Riding Hood, made an entire series of “Alice in Wonderland” products for Walt Disney, including an Alice cookie jar, and even made a jar shaped like the head of Harpo Marx. As for Shawnee Pottery, it is best known for its Smiley and Winnie Pig jars, each of which was made from the same mold but featured different colored scarves and articles of clothing.

One other important cookie-jar category is the advertising jar. Coca-Cola, Harley Davidson, and Quaker Oats are just a few of the firms who turned to McCoy for their cookie jars. Mrs. Field’s had jars made in the shapes of its trademark paper bags. And then there was Oreo, whose jars were shaped like—you get only one guess—its famous cookies.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Feeding America

Feeding America

This archive of 76 influential American cookbooks from the late 1700s to early 1900s, assembled by the Michigan St… [read review or visit site]

Tupper Diva

Tupper Diva

Kristian McManus’ fresh, airtight collection of Tupperware catalogs and related ephemera from the 1950s and 6… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

1940 Vintage Rare Yellow Fiesta Kitchen Kraft 8"d Ball Cookie Jar Homer LaughlinThe Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie Boogie Cookie Jar New In Box Halloween Sonnett Original Ceramic Sculpture: Cardigan Corgi Diner Cookie Jar, Ooak!1978 Glenn Appleman Pottery Blue Mercedes Benz Car Movie Gift Cookie Jar SignedMackenzie Childs Pottery Cookie Jar Vintage Cookie JarGoofy Cookie Jar Rare Shawnee Cottage Cookie Jar Usa Vintage Bartlett Collins Retro Cookie Jar Turquoise Blue Glass Green Daisy Pluto Cookie Jar Made By Treasure CraftMary Engelbreit Cookie Jar Canisters Green W/ Bird, Yellow W/ Red FlowersRaggedy Ann And Andy Cookie JarWaterford Holiday Heirlooms Ceramic Hand-crafted Santa Cookie Jar NewMarvin The Martian God Cookie Jar Vintage Bauer Cookie Jar With Lid, OrangeDisney Mickey Donald Goofy Tea Cup Cookie JarVandor Howdy Doody Cookie Jar - Extremely Rare - Great Conditon !Vintage Shawnee Winking White Snow Owl Cookie JarL@@k~~special~~ Big Boy ~~ New~~cookie Jar Immaculate And Hard To Find Metlox Rose Bud Cookie Jar Circa 1950/no ReserveVintage Disney Dopey Cookie JarVintage Cookie Jar By La Potteries Cookie Designs All Over1996 Pfaltzgraff Star Trek 019 Spock & Kirk Cookie Jar Limited Treasure Craft1996 Pfaltzgraff Star Trek 022 Live Long Prosper Cookie Jar Treasure Craft LimitVintage Mccoy Little Red Riding Hood 12" High Cookie Jar - Excellent ConditionMcdonald's Hamburglar Treasure Craft Ceramic Cookie Jar Cheech & Chongs Up In Smoke Munchie (cookie Jar)Vandor Premier Edition, The Honeymooners Cookie Jar W/ Box 129 / 10000, 1998Metlox Brownie Scout Cookie JarVintage Shawnee Smiley Pig Cookie Jar Gold Buttons & Trim Yellow Neckerchief Usa Collectible Harley Davidson Hog Cookie Jar Issued In 1984 -displayed Only-Vintage Hottie Twin Winton Buddha Cookie Jar1940 Roseville Robinson Ramsbottom Cow Jumped Over Moon Hey Diddle Cookie JarCookie Time Jonal Cookie Jar Vintage Vintage Felix The Cat Cookie Jar 1994 Benjamin & Medwin Ny - 11 1/2" Mint BoxVintage 50's Cookies All Over Cookie Jar W Walnut Knob On Lid-california PotteryElvis Presley 2005 Vandor Record Player Cookie JarRosie The Robot Cookie JarGorham Japan 1980 Unieboek B V Gnome Mom & Child House Ceramic Cookie JarCheech And Chong's Up In Smoke Munchie/stash Jar Cookie JarGreen Jadite Ribbed Cookie JarMary Engelbreit Cookie JarVintage Mccoy Monkey On Horse Cookie Jar Rare Flawed 60's BlackFlintstones In Car Cookie Jar Wilma Dino Fred Pebbles In New ShapeFlinstones Dino As Caddy Cookie Jar Very Rare - No Reserve !!Vintage Hull Pottery Blessings On Thee Barefoot Boy Cookie Jar 13"Igma Artisan Jane Graber Miniature Stoneware Cat/kitten Cookie Jar: 1:12 ScaleMccoy Brush Elephant Ice Cream Cone Cookie JarAunt Jemima Cookie Jar - Signed Mccoy - Black Americana - Red W/ White TasselVintage Mccoy Lemon Cookie Jar With Lid 262 Htf~very Rare~david's Cookie King Or Queen Crown Cookie Jar- Crystal Wrapped DisneyThe Beatles 1998 Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band Drum Cookie JarGlenda The Good Witch From The Wizard Of Oz Cookie Jar Rare!Metlox Poppytrail Yellow Cow Cookie Jar With Bell Only No FlowersSuper Rare Vintage Shawnee Jo Jo Clown Cookie Jar Near Mint Condition ReducedCracker Barrel Owl Cookie Jar ~vintage~mccoy~yellow Smiley Face~cookie Jar~have A Happy Day~70's~Green Vaseline Glass Springerle Pattern Candy Dish Butter Pat Uranium Cookie JarCookie Jar Warner Brothers Catwoman Cookie Jar Cat Woman RareNew Vintage In The Box Hydrangea Cookie Jar With Matching Plate.