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    

Regal China Dutch Girl Cookie JarVintage Aunt Jemima Cookie Jar Mccoy Black Americana MammyDon Knotts Vandor Collectible Cookie Jar The Andy Griffith Show Vintage Mccoy #206 Dog House W/red Bird Cookie Jar Cocker Spaniel Vintage Kromex Aluminum Cookie Jar Rare Turquoise Color 8x7Vintage Shawnee Usa Smiley The Pig Cookie Jar Yellow Scarf Flowers Gold TrimElvis Playing Guitar Ceramic Cookie Jar #18377 Westland Orig BoxVintage Brush Mccoy Pottery W22 Circus Clown Cookie Jar & LidMackenzie Childs Cookie Jar Courtly Check Pattern Enamel Lid On Glass ContainerWatt Pottery Cherry # 21 Cookie Jar With Lid Beautiful * No Reserve*Honeymooners Bus Cookie JarVintage American Bisque Horse Usa Rare Cookie JarVery Nice Vintage Lefton Dutch Girl Cookie Jar Delft Plus SugarVintage Donald Duck Cookie JarWizard Of Oz 1997 Wb Studio Store Glinda Cookie JarLarge Orla Kiely For Target Green Pear Stoneware Canister / Cookie Jar Wood LidVintage African American "mammy" Usa N.s. Co 1940's Cookie Jar In Blue DressMontana Lifestyles Elmer Brown Horse Ceramic Cookie Jar Retired Vintage Figural Cookie Jar Elsie The Cow In Barrell By Pottery Guild Vintage Green Vaseline Depression Glass Hoosier Ribbed Cookie JarMedium Orla Kiely For Target Orange Pear Stoneware Canister Cookie Jar Wood LidRoseville Pottery Clematis Brown Cookie Jar 3-8Eldreth Pottery Salt-glaze Blue Vine 9½" Cookie Jar / Covered Crock–signed–1997Vintage 1950s Ceramic Cookie Jar With Cookie Decoration, So Cute, EucVintage Abingdon Pottery Hippopotamus Cookie Jar 549 Usa...coolMc Coy Black Mammy In Red Dress Cookie JarNachtmann Bohemian Ruby Red Cut To Clear Large Biscuit Cracker Cookie JarHenn Workshops Snowman Cookie JarHall Jewel Tea Autumn Leaf Cookie Jar With LidVintage Large Cobalt Blue Glass Planters Pennant Salted Mr Peanut 5c Cookie Jar Rare, World Market, Lidded Cupcake Cookie Jar W/ A Strawberry On TopVintage 1940's Shawnee " Winnie The Pig" Cookie Jar ( Clover/ Shamrock Design) Califoria Cleminson Card King Cookie JarRare Vintage Cowboy Tom & Jerry Cookie JarCupcake Cookie Jar... By Susan Winget Cracker Barrel Old Country Store..ceramicDisney's Pluto Cookie JarVintage Stella Strawberry Cookie Jar 1942California Pottery-poppytrail-usa-green Parrot Holding Cookie-cookie Jar Vincent Van Gogh Sun Flower Painting Cookie Jar Chaleur Canister D Burrows RareAmerican Bisque "granny" Cookie Jar ~ Green Dress W/ Extra Detail Dress Vintage Brush Humpty Dumpty Cookie Jar Rare Marked W-29 Brush On Bottom Fitz & Floyd Woodland Snowman Cookie Jar -new- #1438 -raccoon, Rabbit,wreath++I Love Lucy Premiere Ed. Loaf Of Bread Cookie Jar - Numbered Pioneer WomenDisney Winnie The Pooh Cannister Set & Cookie Jar Eeyore Piglet TiggerGreat Summer Cottage Cookie Jar*fish Diner With Cat Proprietor*orange*nwotEnesco Harry Potter Quidditch Cookie Jar New In Box!Vintage Ceramic Lefton Santa Cookie Jar - In Box Christmas In July - Aug1998 Clay Art Hand Painted Robot Cookie Jar Great Vintage 1940's Shawnee Cat Puss N Boots Cookie Jar, Excellent ShapeFitz & Floyd Remembering Santa Cookie Jar New Never UsedMontana Lifestyles Elmer Horse On Chritsmas Tree Cookie Jar Montana Silversmiths5.5 Inch Cookie Jar Kokeshi Container Lacquer Vintage (cl50)Christopher Radko Hopper W Topper Easter Cookie Jar.Clay Art Retired #8885 Jazz Diva Black Americana Cookie Jar ExcellentHull Brown Gingerbread Man Cookie JarVintage Shawnee Pig Cookie Jar Marked Usa. Red Scarf.Mid Century Vintage Usa Mccoy American Pottery Cat Cookie Jar Pink Basket WeaveVintage Collectible Walt Disney Treasure Craft Snow White Evil Queen Cookie JarVtg Antique General Store Huge Glass Candy Jar Display Metal Lid Cookie JarNew Scentsy "snowman" Cookie Jar - Host Exclusive