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!!Disney Le Disneyland 40th Anniversary Sleeping Beauty Castle Cookie Jar NestleS483. Smokey The Bear 50th Anniversary Ceramic Cookie Jar By Treasure Craft 1994Shawnee Muggsy Cookie Jar Gold Trim & Flowers Cute! Great ConditionVintage Lance Pretzel Cookie Snack Store Counter Display Jars And RacksVintage Lenox Butler's Pantry 12" Canister Cookie Jar New With Tag Covered WhiteVintage Lustro-ware Red Plastic Cookie Jar W/original Label & Box NosVintage Fostoria American Line Cube Glass Large Cookie Jar & Lid Great ConditionVintage ~ Superman ~ Cookie Jar Original Mccoy Pottery Teepee Indian Cookie JarVintage Brush Pottery Angel Boy Blue Cookie Jar W17 No Damage!Vintage Gordon's Cookie Jar Drug Store Counter Display Peanut Cracker Cookie JarPfaltzgraff Tea Rose Bird Seed Crock W/lid & Handles Nice Cookie Jar Mccoy Two Kittens In A Basket Vintage Authentic Cookie Jar!Vintage Easter Dapper Hare/bunny Family Cookie Jar Christopher Radko NibBob's Big Boy Cookie Candy Snack Jar Man Cave Bar Garage Retro Diner DecorYellow Marcrest Daisy Dot Cookie Jar Rare Color 1950s -1960s Style #1Shirley Corl "belindy & Friends" Cookie JarVintage Hull ~ Little Red Riding Hood ~ Cookie JarVintage Napco Cookie Jar Cookies All OverWalt Disney Cinderella Pitcher By Disney DirectWestland Giftware Joker Batman Cookie Jar NewWizard Of Oz Cookie JarGone With The Wind Hattie Mcdaniel Black Mammy Cookie Jar MintT529. Ceramic Kentucky Fried Chicken Col. Sanders Cookie Jar (1998)Rare Vtg Enesco Mother In Kitchen Prayer Cookie Jar Lady Vintage Metlox 1950's-1960's Story Book Squirrel On Pine Cone Cookie JarFitz And Floyd Cat Cookie JarAntique Hull Little Red Riding Hood Collection, Cookie Jar, With S & P SetsVintage Shawnee Winnie Pig Cookie Jar - UsaVintage Kliban Cat Cookie Jar Tastesetter Sigma JapanSet Of 4 New Muppets Canisters Cookie Jars, Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy, AnimalFine Vintage Shawnee Smiley Pig Cookie Jar W/ Gold Trim & ShamrocksRare Vintage ~ Funshine Care Bear ~ Cookie JarCookies All Over Cookie Jar Vintage Napco Ceramic Clean Vgc Nice!Vintage Treasure Craft Owls Canister Set C1960s Ceramic Flour Sugar Coffee Tea 1993 Warner Bros Inc Foghorn Leghorn Chicken Rooster Red White Cookie JarElvis Presley 1968 Comeback Special Cookie Jar Ltd Mib Premiere Edition W/coaWaterford Crystal Maeve Pattern Biscuit Barrel / Cookie / Cracker Jar W/lid MintSailor Boy Cookie Jar Shawnee 1940's Era VintageShawnee Shamrock / Clover Smiley Pig Cookie Jar Marked UsaRetired Walt Disney Bambi Friend Thumper Cookie Jar Animation Movie MemorabiliaLot Three Stooges Clay Art-cookie Jar, Bank, Salt & Pepper New W/original BoxesHand Painted & Signed Grateful Dead/by: Mouse Ceramic JarFitz And Floyd Cookie Jar Retired Prunella PigStar Wars R2d2 Plastic Cookie Jar By Applause-from Late 1990's-new- #42967Anthropologie Nola The Owl Cookie JarVintage Style Ceramic Large Yellow Taxicab Cookie Jar2011 Htf Disney Share The Magic Mickey And Minnie Snowman Cookie Jar And Mug SetLot 8 Walt Disney Mickey Mouse Ceramic Cookie Jars Clock Salt & Pepper CreamerFlamingo Cookie Jar, Looks Like Radio, Art Deco.Roseville Pottery Cookie JarAntique Sandman Cookie Flasher Jar - With Clown Juggling Balls - Unique & RareNew Batman Cape Cookie Jar: Dark Knight Will Guard Your Sweets - Hand PaintedRoyal Albert Old Country Rose Gazebo Cookie Jar Limited Edition With BoxJadeite Hen On Nest Glass Green Chicken Candy Dish Jar Canister Cookie Fr Shp UsHull Original Little Red Riding Hood Cookie Jar Die No.. 135889 UsaMad Magazine Alfred E Neuman Ceramic Cookie JarMackenzie-childs Cookie Jar-blue Flower Market Enamel Lid