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    

Red Wing Gray Line Cookie Jar OldAntique "1943 Brayton Laguna" Black Mammy Cookie Jar/ Great Condition!! Nr!!S483. Smokey The Bear 50th Anniversary Ceramic Cookie Jar By Treasure Craft 1994Disney Le Disneyland 40th Anniversary Sleeping Beauty Castle Cookie Jar NestleDisney Limited Edition Penguin Cookie Jar From Mary PoppinsVintage Lenox Butler's Pantry 12" Canister Cookie Jar New With Tag Covered WhiteVintage Lefton Blue Bird Cookie Jar Vintage Lustro-ware Red Plastic Cookie Jar W/original Label & Box NosVintage ~ Superman ~ Cookie Jar Original Mccoy Pottery Teepee Indian Cookie JarVintage Brush Pottery Angel Boy Blue Cookie Jar W17 No Damage!Waterford Cut Crystal Biscuit Cookie Jar Barrel With Lid 7" Tall Round Nr YqzBob's Big Boy Cookie Candy Snack Jar Man Cave Bar Garage Retro Diner DecorVintage Gordon's Cookie Jar Drug Store Counter Display Peanut Cracker Cookie JarFitz And Floyd Cat Cookie JarVintage Belleek Bone China Ireland Biscuit Jar - Cookie JarVintage Easter Dapper Hare/bunny Family Cookie Jar Christopher Radko NibRare Vtg Enesco Mother In Kitchen Prayer Cookie Jar Lady Walt Disney Cinderella Pitcher By Disney DirectVintage 50s Cookies All Over Ceramic Potteriy Cookie JarYellow Marcrest Daisy Dot Cookie Jar Rare Color 1950s -1960s Style #1Vintage Napco Cookie Jar Cookies All OverWizard Of Oz Cookie JarAnthropologie Nola The Owl Cookie JarVintage Brush Mccoy Pottery Peter Pumpkin Eater Cookie Jar Usa W24Pfaltzgraff Tea Rose Bird Seed Crock W/lid & Handles Nice Cookie Jar Fitz And Floyd Reigning Cats And Dogs Catarine The Great Cookie Jar Retired 1990Shirley Corl "belindy & Friends" Cookie JarT529. Ceramic Kentucky Fried Chicken Col. Sanders Cookie Jar (1998)American Bisque Leeds Standing Donald Duck Cookie JarGone With The Wind Hattie Mcdaniel Black Mammy Cookie Jar MintShawnee Muggsy Cookie Jar Gold Trim & Flowers Cute! Great ConditionVintage Treasure Craft Owls Canister Set C1960s Ceramic Flour Sugar Coffee Tea 1993 Warner Bros Inc Foghorn Leghorn Chicken Rooster Red White Cookie JarVintage Kliban Cat Cookie Jar Tastesetter Sigma JapanMcmcoy Cookie Jar Kitty Cat In A Basket Pink VintageAntique Hull Little Red Riding Hood Collection, Cookie Jar, With S & P SetsRare Old Shawnee Pottery Smiley Pig Clover Bud Cookie Jar UsaSet Of 4 New Muppets Canisters Cookie Jars, Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy, AnimalHull Original Little Red Riding Hood Cookie Jar Die No.. 135889 UsaVintage Hippo Cookie Jar With Gree Overalls And Hat Nice ConditionVintage Lance Squatty Cracker Cookie Jar 6-3/8" TallCookies All Over Cookie Jar Vintage Napco Ceramic Clean Vgc Nice!2011 Htf Disney Share The Magic Mickey And Minnie Snowman Cookie Jar And Mug SetAntique Sandman Cookie Flasher Jar - With Clown Juggling Balls - Unique & RarePink Panther Cookie JarPortmeirion Pomona Store Crock /cookie Jar Roman Apricot Design Royal Albert Old Country Rose Gazebo Cookie Jar Limited Edition With BoxLot Three Stooges Clay Art-cookie Jar, Bank, Salt & Pepper New W/original BoxesHand Painted & Signed Grateful Dead/by: Mouse Ceramic JarVintage Style Ceramic Large Yellow Taxicab Cookie JarLot 8 Walt Disney Mickey Mouse Ceramic Cookie Jars Clock Salt & Pepper CreamerBeautiful La Pottery/napco 'cookies All Over' Jar!!Vintage Fitz & Floyd 1979 Witch Cookie Jar *near Mint*Pig Cookie Jar Kaldun & BogleCninese Crested . Handsculpted Ceramic Cookie Jar .lookHanna Barbera 1999 Rosie The Robot Jetsons Maid Cookie Jar #c757Ceramic Avion/airstream Cookie JarAuthentic Goofy Talking Cookie Jar Refrigerator Walt Disney Ceramic Battery OperAirstream Camper Trailer Vintage Ceramic Cookie Jar Fitz & Floyd Omnibus Silver