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    

Dl Rare Vtg Ucago Mammy Cookie Jar Plaid Apron Orig Sticker Black AmericanaVintage Lefton Bluebird Cookie Jar Vintage Mccoy Black Americana Mammy/aunt Jemima Cookie Jar..no Reserve.Super Clean Antique Shawnee Smiley Pig Cookie Jar W/ Chrysanthemum PatternRetired My Little Kitchen Fairies Cookie JarVintage Shawnee Puss N Boots Gold Decorated Cookie JarVtg 1940s Shawnee Pottery Puss In Boots Cookie Jar Kitty Cat Bow HatVintage Lance Glass Cookie Counter Jar W/ Red Painted Metal Lid 8"Disney Snow White Cookie Jar By EnescoAuthentic Goofy Talking Cookie Jar Refrigerator Walt Disney Ceramic Battery OperDisney Minnie's Electric Holiday Cookie Jar By Lenox From Barney's New YorkRare Harry Potter Bertie Botts Bean's Cookie Jar 2001 Collectible 10.5"Shawnee Lucky Elephant Cookie Jar Gold TrimSet Of 5 Anchor Hocking Heritage Hill Clear Glass Cookie Candy Jars 1 GallonPeanuts Snoopy Hugging Heavy Glass Cookie Treats Jar Canister Woodstock NestD740. Vintage: Harley Davidson Glazed Ceramic Pig Cookie Jar By Mccoy (1984)Paul Mccobb Jackson International Contempori Orange And White Cookie Jar, RareVintage Shawnee Smiley Pig Cookie Jar Red Bib Flower NiceEnglish Bulldog Ceramic Cookie Jar 10 1/2" High Spiked Collar!Fitz And Floyd Classic Rooster Bird Cookie JarBrayton Laguna Potteries Aunt Jemima Cookie JarGrateful Dead Van Cookie Jar American Bisque Blackboard Clown Ceramic Cookie JarVintage Clown Cat Canister Cookie Biscuit Jar Rare Franciscan Desert Rose Cookie JarRare! Elvis Presley Movie Theater Cookie Jar!Vintage American Bisque Rabbit In Hat Cookie Jar.Mint Vintage Roseville Art Deco Teapot Chartreuse Color "wincraft" Design #271p Vtg Japan Napco? All Over Cookie Jar Walnut Lid Ceramic PotteryVintage American Bisque Girl Pig Cookie JarVintage Lustro Ware Cookie Jar Red Plastic 1950'sVintage Kitch 1950's Baby Boomer Napco Cookies All Over Cookie JarVintage Cookies All Over Cookie Jar With Walnut Lid Rare Aunt Jemima Cookie Jar By F&f Mold & Die Works No Reserve!Unique Very Rare Usa Pink Canister Pottery Cookie Jar Metlox Poppytrail Rose1970s Vintage B Kliban Cat Cookie Jar W Kitten Pouch Oreos By Sigma Taste SetterVintage Fitz And Floyd Mama Cat And Her 3 Little Kittens Cookie JarMcdonalds - Ceramic Hamburglar Cookie Jar - Treasure Craft 1997 - HamburgerHome Studio Woodland Cookie Jar Moose And Bear Design Finish Collection. .newDisney Star Wars Princess Leia Big Fig - Limited Edition - New In BoxSgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band Beatles Cookie Jar By Vandor 10 X 9 X 8 "Halloween Pumpkin Black Cat Ghost Cookie JarDracula - Cookie Jar - Treasure Craft - Limited - Certificate Of AuthenticityVintage 1939 Mccoy Mammy Holding Cauliflower Black Americana Cookie JarRaggedy Ann And Andy Cookie Jar Bobbs Merrill Clown Glass White Red Vintage 1977Vintage Lefton Bossie Cow Cookie JarLotus Woodie Cookie Jar 1992 Lotus Cookie Jar- Vw Woody Surfer Surfing SurfBiker Harley Davidson Motorcycle Cookie Jar Clay Hand-painted Shawnee Art Pottery Winnie Blue Pig Cookie JarM&m Candy Rare Square Cookie Jar With 4 Character SidesClay Art Cookie Jar Cruisin' Hounds #8845Boleslawiec Polish Art Pottery Cookie Jar Lidded Canister Pot Stoneware PolandFranciscan Desert Rose England Cookie JarNew With Original Box Belleek Cookie Ginger Jar-ireland Floral Shamrock PatternVintage National Potteries Co Napco All Over Cookies Walnut Cookie Jar JapanGene Autry Cookie JarLone Ranger Cookie Jar, 2003 Edition Of 4800Rare Rocketeer Bulldog Diner Treasury Craft Cookie JarVintage Universal Monsters Dracula Cookie Jar Treasure Craft 9" By 9" & 13" TallPillsbury Doughboy With Heart "add A Little Love" Cookie Jar-rare