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    

F&f Aunt Jemima Mammy Black Americana Plastic Cookie JarDisney Retired Treasurecraft Dumbo The Flying Elephant Wdw Ceramic Cookie JarL.e. Smith Moon And Star Crystal Clear Lg Jardiniere Biscuit Barrel Cookie JarLefton Blue Bird Cookie Jar Hand Painted Excellent ConditionTiki Farm Fez Monkey Cookie Jar, Ape The Band - Retired - RareWarner Brothers Marvin The Martian K 9 Cookie Jar New In BoxWatt Pottery White Daisy Cookie Jar Super Rare Nice ConditionRare Vintage Warner Brothers Marvin The Martian K 9 Cookie Jar W/boxVintage 1940-60's Hall Superior Cookie Jar - Cactus Motif Vintage Hard To Find Starnes/sierra Vista Pinnochio On Whale Cookie JarSmokey The Bear Cookie Jar Clay ArtAbington U.s.a. Halloween Jack-o-lantern Pumpkin Cookie Jar ExcellentHandpainted Cat Skeleton Cookie Jar / Box - Halloween Ooak Day Of The Dead KittyFine Hall China Jewel Tea Autumn Leaf Big Earred Cookie JarWarner Bros Harley Quinn-poison Ivy Cookie Jar 1999 Dc Comics Statue Dark KnightVintage Hull Little Red Riding Hood Cookie Jar 7 Pieces Excellent Condition1996 Warner Brothers Foghorn Leghorn Cookie Jar W Box Looney Tunes Warner BrosVintage Hull Little Red Riding Hood Cookie JarNew Pioneer Woman Charlie The Ranch Dog (basset Hound) Cookie JarJc Penney Home Collection " Witch Ceramic Cookie Jar " Halloween Nib Free S/hCatwoman Cookie Jar Warner Bros. Studio Store 1998 Mib Batman BtasVintage Brush Mccoy Little Boy Blue Cookie Jar 1956 Stamped K26 UsaAntique American Bisque Jolly Pirate Rolypoly Cookie Jar Robinson Ransbottom VtgFitz And Floyd French Market New Cookie �� Jar.Fitz And Floyd Witch Hazel Halloween Cookie JarHull Pottery Vintage Gingerbread Man Cookie Jar Brown Ceramic *signedRare Disney Mickey Mouse Cheshire Cat Tinkerbell Halloween Cookie Jar Or CandleRetired Nightmare Before Christmas Cookie Jar Disney Jack Skellington Sally MoonGlenn Appleman Rolls Royce Cookie JarVintage Shawnee Pottery Smiley Pig Cookie Jar Hand Painted Raspberries Nice!!Warner Brothers Looney Tunes Bugs Bunny & Gang Pink Cadillac Cookie Jar W/ Box Vintage 1957 Little Bo Peep Napco Cookie Jar JapanVintage Rare Fenton Hobnail Milk Glass Cookie Jar Canister Lid Original StickerVintage 1959 L. G. Ely Ye Old Outhouse Cookie Jar No Chips Rare 11 1/8" TallFitz & Floyd Witch Hazel Cookie JarHalloween Cupcake Cookie JarFranciscan Apple Canister Cookie Jar Made In CaliforniaRoseville, Freesia Green Cookie Jar 4-8Vtg.1971 Mccoy Yellow Happy/smiley Face Cookie Jar & 2 Mugs, 'have A Happy Day'Airstream Trailer Cookie Jar - Great Condition - Original BoxWarner Bros Studio Store 1997 Fred Flinstone & Dino Cookie Jar Exellent In BoxRetried Mackenzie Child Bathing Hut Cookie Jar!!Vintage Mccoy Barnum's Animal Cracker Circus Wagon Cookie JarVintage Michigan J. Frog Ceramic Cookie Jar Warner Bros. Studio 1998 W/ BoxVintage Beautiful Original Franciscan Tall Cookie Jar In Apple PatternHarley Davidson Cookie Jar { White }Rare Holy Devil Halo Boy Cookie Jar ~ Rare 50's Original~ Htf~ Deforest Pottery1950's Original Mccoy Indian Chief Cookie Jar Pontiac Advertisement Orig Paint Vintage 1970s Mervyn Emily The Cat Glass Eyed Cookie Jar Longaberger Woven Tradition Green Lot Nesting Bowls Pans Cookie Jar Batter CrockOriginal 1950s Napco Cookie Jar Cookies All Over Jar And Lid Walnut Lid TopperSouthwest Airlines Collectible Cookie JarNew! 2015 Ceramic Holiday Christmas Cookie Jar White Scottie DogFitz & Floyd Santa's Sleigh Christmas Cookie Jar Mint!Rowe Pottery Christmas Cookie/cookie Jar 1995Vintage Shawnee Pottery Puss N Boots Cookie Jar And Salt And Pepper ShakerFranciscan Ware Cookie Jar W/lid, Apple Pattern, California Pottery, So Pretty!Pioneer Woman Charlie Basset Hound Ranch Dog Puppy Cookie Jar New AdorableScentsy Snowman Cookie Jar - Host Exclusive ItemSkull Skeleton Head Ceramic Cookie Jar Halloween