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    

Rare American Bisque Little Mo Indian Boy With Mohawk Cookie JarVintage Fiesta Cobalt Blue Medium Covered Jar~ Original Label ~ Kitchen Kraft Vintage Hull Brown Drip Gingerbread Man Cookie JarShawnee Cooky Dutch Girl Cookie Jar Gold Trim Unusual Floral DecalPfaltzgraff Tea Rose Cookie Jar With Lid Mint Condition Bird Relief SculptureVintage Hull Little Red Riding Hood Cookie Jar Basket #967Black American Aunt Jemima Cookie Jar ~ F & F Dayton Ohio Plastic Cookie Jar ~Indian Chief Cookie Jar -lane Of California -dated 1950 -colorful -very RareRare Black Americana Grand Marshall Cookie Jar 160/500Beautiful Franciscan Earthenware Desert Rose Tall Cookie JarRare Disney Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs Cookie Jar (large)Lefton Miss Priss Kitty Cat Cookie Jar, Cream Sugar Set And Salt & PepperVintage Shawnee Cookie Jar "shamrock Smiley" ~ Cute Pig ~ UsaVintage Egghead Cookie Jar Lagardo TackettFabulous Mackenzie-childs Courtly Check Glass Cookie Jar W/ Painted Enamel Lid Shawnee Winnie Bank Head Cookie JarAunt Jemima Cookie Jar, Syrup, Salt Pepper, Sugar Bowl (2) Spice F & F Mold DieVintage Ucagco Japan Ceramics Py Biscuit Jar Painted Girl W/flowersVintage Little Red Riding Hood ~tea Canister~ 135889 By Hull PotteryPoppytrail Metlox Lamb Cookie Jar Baa Sound Sheep Large Kitchen Pottery 2 PieceOriginal**the "honeymooners" Bus Cookie Jar**mintLimited Edition Roy Rogers And Trigger Large Cooke JarSet Of Two ~ Shawnee Winnie Pig Cookie Jars, Blue Pink Collar Farmer Flower1993 Warner Bros Foghorn Leghorn Cookie JarShawnee Jojo The Clown Cookie Jar, Vintage True ShawneeRare Vintage Hall's "pastel Morning Glory" Cookie Jar, Pretzel Handles, Exc CondVintage Hull Pottery Mirror Brown Drip Gingerbread Man Cookie Jar Canister Exc.Shawnee Clover Blossom Smiley Pig Cookie Jar -hard To Find DecorationLos Angeles Pottery Cookie Jar..1956.all Over Cookies With Walnut Top..excellentBig Sky Carvers Moose Cookie Jar By Phyllis Driscoll Bearfoots TabletopStar Wars Vintage Ceramic R2d2 Cookie Jar 19771959 Corvette Cookie JarFitz & Floyd Christmas "nutcracker Sweets" Cookie Jar ExcellentQuaker Oats Very Rare Aunt Jemima Syrup Bottle Limited Edition Cookie Jar Vintage 1970's Donald Duck With Pumpkin Cookie Jar Walt Disney Productions 865Vintage Art Pottery Mccoy Cookie Jar 1970's "have A Happy Day" Smiley FaceBlack American Cookie Jar By Carol GiffordWinnie Pig Cookie JarElvis Presley Collectible Pink Cadillac Cookie Jar1970 Vintage Cookie Monster Ceramic Cookie Jar Sesame Street Muppets, #970Estate - Pre-owned M A Hadley Hand Painted Cookie Jar Crock Cow & Pig MotifOld Hard Rock Hotel Orlando Guitar Cookie Jar1980's Made In Japan Parrot On Bunch Of Bananas Cookie Jar N Retro Gold & OrangeBatman Cookie JarDisney Treasure Craft Snow White & Dopey Seven Dwarfs Cookie JarHarry And David Ceramic Rabbit Cookie Jar4h Garfield Ceramic Cookie JarVintage, Mid- Century, Kromex, Aluminum, Cookie, Metal Canister, Cookie JarVintage 1958 Chilly Willy Walter Lantz Cartoon Cookie Jar Rare 1940s Shawnee Pottery Winnie Pig Green Cloverbud Clover Shamrock Cookie JarClay Art 2002 Miss Marilyn Monroe Grand Marshal Cookie Jar Nib Disney Pinocchio & Jiminy Cricket Cookie Jar ----► Mint Condition----► Look!Disney Teacup Cofokie Jar Mickey Donald And GoofyWarner Brothers Sylvester And Tweety Cookie JarHuge Pig Chef Sweet As Pie Cracker Barrel Cookie JarYona Clown Cookie Jar 1957 JapanBlue Hill Rowantrees Pottery Ceramic Kitchen Crock Cookie Jar With Lid & TrivetVintage Mccoy Cookie Jar,clown In A Barrel The Pillsbury Dough Boy Christmas Cookie Jar The Dansbury MintShawnee Smiley Butterscotch Cookie Jar