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    

Vintage Fiestaware Kitchen Kraft Cookie Jar 5&7/8" - Radioactive Red W/ StickerVintage Fiestaware Kitchen Kraft Cookie Jar 4&5/8" Small - YellowVintage Fiestaware Kitchen Kraft Cookie Jar 5&7/8" - Cobalt BlueFitz & Floyd Mayfair Bunnies Easter Rabbit Cookie Jar Vintage 1994 Rare MintVintage Aunt Jemima Black Americana Plastic Cookie Jar F&f Mold And Die WorksRare Vallona Starr Cookie Jar Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater! Look!Black Americana Mammy Brown Face F & F Cookie Jar * Original* Highly Collectible1993 Looney Tunes Foghorn Leghorn Cookie Jar With S & P Shaker In Original Box Appleman Vintage Brown Painted Ceramic 1979 Packard Car Cookie Jar Hg1Rare Vintage Lefton Pixie Girl Baby Bunny Rabbit Costume Easter Cookie JarDisney Princess Cinderella Tea Time Carriage Cookie Jar Rare, MintVintage Htf Neil The Frog With Cowboy Hat Sears Cookie Jar In Great ConditionRare Transformers Optimus Prime Cookie Jar Great American HousewaresFitz & Floyd Omnibus 1993 Easter Bunny Rabbit With Baby Cookie JarMarcus Notley Black Pot Of Gold Cookie Jar - Ireland 2008 - St. Patricks DayRare Vintage Benjamin & Medwin Pillsbury Doughboy Cookie Jar With Original BoxEstate Hand Painted Bulldog Ff Japan 1980 Cookie Jar No M 20 No ReserveLongaberger Pottery Woven Traditions Green Cookie Jar Mint ConditionMichelin Man Bib Cookie JarWonderful Lefton Mr Toodles Cookie Jar Maltese Dog 4021Vintage Mammy Cookie Jar Black Americana Aunt JemimaShawnee Gold Trimmed "cooky" Cookie JarVintage 1940's Shawnee Pottery Puss N Boots Cat Cookie JarLenox Butterfly Meadow Gazebo Cookie Jar FreeshipusVintage Antique Mccoy Brush Art Pottery Cookie Jar Cow W/ Cat On Back W10 Vg Large Portmeirion Botanic Garden Shrubby Peony Cookie Jar Canister With LidRare Vandor1of 2400 #977 Movie Theater Cookie JarVintage Japan Cookie Jar Sitting Beaver With Pink Skimmer HatCaptain Crunch Rare Limited Edition Cookie Jar. Low Number #441 /1200Vintage Shawnee Pottery Winking Owl Cookie JarFitz & Floyd Essentials Botanical Bunny Cookie Jar Easter Rabbit JarVintage Sierra Vista Treasure Chest Cookie JarVintage Twin Winton Small Grandma Cookie JarDisney Hard To Find Goofy Cookie JarMickey Mouse Cookie Jar Walt Disney World Resort Collectible Kitchen Decor MickyFire Fighter Cookie JarFritz And Floyd Rabbit With Hat Cookie Jar ? Minty Disney Winnie The Pooh Treasure Craft Rare Cookie Jar-newVintage Dutch Girl Flour Cookie Jar Canister Dutch Kitchen 33/3301959 Brush Mccoy W 22 Clown Cookie Jar - Great Color No DamageVintage Green Night Owl Cookie JarMib Ceramic 1996 Pepe Le Pew Ceramic Cookie Jar Warner Bros Vintage 40's Shannee Smiley The Pig Cookie Jar ~ UsaVintage Goofy Cookie Jar By Treasure Craft1997 Warner Bros. The Wizard Of Oz Cookie Jar Featuring Lion, Tinman, ScarecrowVintage Black Americana Mammy Washing Clothes Cookie Jar Blue And WhiteVintage Usa Ceramic Adorable Happy Clown Cookie Jar Hand Made V.g.cond. Signed Jeffrey Banks Scottie Terrier Dog Design For David's Cookies Cookie Jar/mugCupcake Cookie Jar Ice Cream Cookie Jar With Lemon FostingVintage 1940s Hull Little Red Riding Hood Cookie Jar 6 Pc Set W Free Golden BookBetty Boop Coca-cola Diner Cookie Jar Limited Edition 3600 In Box CokeElvis Presley Vandor Television Tv Cookie JarVintage Original Robinson-ransbottom ~ Oscar ~ Green Hat ~ Cookie JarGourmet Mickey Mouse Cookie JarButterfly Meadow Kitten Cookie Jar By LenoxBeautiful Rare Disney 101 Dalmatians Musical Cookie Jar By Schmid MibPottery Jar W Lid Wild Running Horses Signed Canister Cookie Jar Pueblo NativeDonald Duck Cookie Jar By Treasure Craft NibEnesco 1998 John Deere Company Tractor Cookie Jar Mib G481 New Never DisplayedLongaberger Pottery Heritage Green Canister Cookie Jar