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    

Original ~ Vintage C1910 ~ "wright And Sons Ltd" ~ Biscuit Or Cookie Jar1940s Vtg Pearl China Mammy Figural Black Americana Cookie Jar 22 Karat Nr YqzShawnee Cookie Jar U.s.a. Muggsy " Original Paper Label "Waterford Cut Crystal Lismore Biscuit Cracker Barrel Lidded Glass Cookie Jar Rdr1950's Unused Aunt Jemima Cookie Jar & Set Of 6 Spice ShakersBatman Sculpted Cookie Jar Limited Ed. #135 Big Bang Theory Holy Grail Rare Nib Enesco North Pole Village Cookie Jar Holder ElfVintage 1940s Cooke Time Clock Face Cookie Jar - Abingdon Usa 653 - FriendsLarge Vtg Pea Head Mammy Figural Black Americana Cookie Jar Marked Mccoy Nr YqzElvis Presley Guitar Cookie Jar / Biscuit Barrel - Ltd Edition - NewRare Mccoy Turkey Cookie JarTom's Toasted Peanuts Grocery Store Display Advertising Candy Glass Cookie JarLimited Edition Marilyn Monroe Bust Cookie Jar, Black DressVintage Bartlett Collins Rooster Milk Glass Cookie Jar Canister 1960sFostoria American Cookie Jar With Cover 8.5 Inch NrVintage Fiesta Kitchen Kraft Large Ball Cookie Jar In Cobalt BlueElvis Presley Pink Cadillac Cookie Jar Vandor Limited Edition W Coa Rare Nib NewAntique Rs Prussia Porcelain Cookie Jar Biscuit Barrel Early 1900's1970's Vintage Sesame Street Cookie Monster Ceramic Cookie Jar #970 Rare! Coca Cola Limited Edition Cookie Jar Featuring Emmett Kelly 1950s Brush Circus Horse Cookie Jar Dog On Back Original Vintage Ceramic RareVintage 1960 Holt Howard Cozy Kitten Pop Up Cookie Jar Just Take 1 HtfVintage Mccoy Uncle Sam Hat Cookie Jar RareDoctor Who Tardis Cookie Jar Makes Tardis Sounds / LightsCommemorative Shawnee Purr Fect Puss N' Boots Cat Cookie JarRoseville Freesia Blue Cookie Jar 4-8"Vintage 1950's Napco "cookies All Over" Cookie Jar With Walnut Lid Jeffrey Banks Scottie Dog Cookie Jar Scottish Terrier ScottyVintage 1940-60's Hall Superior Cobalt Blue Cookie Jar 5 Band With Flowers RareVintage Hall Jewel Tea Autumn Leaf 2 Handle Cookie Jar Excellent ConditionVintage Mccoy Nabisco Barnum's Animal Cracker Circus Wagon Cookie Jar 1972Pioneer Woman Charlie The Basset Hound Cookie Jar New W/tagFitz & Floyd Santas List Rocking Horse Christmas Cookie Jar 1995Rare Mccoy Pottery White And Gold Pineapple Cookie JarSesame Street Cookie Monster Ceramic Cookie Jar Excellent Condition With Box NrHall Zeisel Tri-tone Cookie Jar And Lid, 1950sExc 1993 Fitz And Floyd Lidded Cookie Jar House Twas The Night Before ChristmasMary Engelbreit Cookie Jar Canister Black Red Cherries By CharpenteChristopher Radko Shiny Brite Snowman Cookie JarRrp Robinson Ransbottom Vintage Whale Cookie Jar"touchdown!" - It's An African Grey Parrot Cookie JarMarilyn Monroe Limited Edition, Rare Cookie Jar/ceramic BoxWinnie The Pooh Disney Mr. Sanders Cookie Jar. PerfectRare Disney Goofy Ceramic Cookie Jar Treasure Craft Vtg 1959-61 Brush Mccoy Pumpkin Cookie Jar W Lock On The Door No Chips No CracksSierra Vista Abc Bear Cookie Jar, Bear On Blocks, Good Condition, Unmarked1999 Large Wizard Of Oz Cookie Jar-mint And With Original Box!Popeye Cookie Jar King Features Vandor Limited Edition 3,600 Coa Rare Nib New !Disney Mickey Mouse Cookie Jar NibVintage American Bisque Santa Claus Pitcher & Mugs/like Cookie JarVintage Black Americana Brayton Laguna Mammy Cookie Jar Excellent Condition Shawnee Winnie Pig Bank Cookie Jar # 61 "very Good Condition"Vintage African American Black Americana Cookie Jar Chef Man1999 Large, Pretty Wizard Of Oz Dorothy & Glinda Cookie Jar-mint!Cookie Time Cookie Jar, Excellent Condition Vintage Smiley Pig 12" Cookie Jar Shawnee Pottery Usa - Pink & White RareWaterford Crystal Holiday Heirlooms Gingerbread House Cookie Jar Limited Edition1995 Fitz & Floyd Father Christmas Santa Sleigh Cookie Jar First VersionPeter Max Zero Man Cookie Jar Ceramic Rare Mod Pop Art 1980sUniversal Studios Woody Woodpecker Driving Convertible Car Cookie Jar Niob