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    

Mackenzie-childs Courtly Check Cookie Jar With Lid!American Bisque Fred Flintstone & Dino Golfing Cookie Jar RareMccoy Rocking Horse Cookie Jar 1940'sPfaltzgraff Tea Rose Cookie Jar With Lid Mint Condition Bird Relief SculptureBeautiful Waterford Lismore Cookie Biscuit Jar Cut Crystal - NrWaterford Cut Crystal Biscuit Barrel Cookie Jar W/ Lid - Lismore Beautiful 23" Lee Middleton Vinyl And Cloth "caught In The Cookie Jar"Rare Vintage Hall's "pastel Morning Glory" Cookie Jar, Pretzel Handles, Exc CondVintage Shawnee Cookie Jar "shamrock Smiley" ~ Cute Pig ~ UsaVintage Hull Gingerbread Boy Cookie Jar Stamped Hull Crooksville Usa Near Mint!!Stanley Tigerman Swid-powell Memphis Cookie Jar Post Modern Limited Edition Roy Rogers And Trigger Large Cooke JarFranciscan Oasis Cookie Jar With Lid Very RareVintage Mccoy Brown Cat On Coal Bucket Cookie Jar Stamped Usa 218 Mccoy NearmintVintage Hull Pottery Mirror Brown Drip Gingerbread Man Cookie Jar Canister Exc.Shawnee Smiley Pig Cookie Jar Bank Old Vintage.Lot Bob's Big Boy Wolfe Studio Le Cookie Jar 32/250, Banks,menus & Bobble HeadLongaberger Retired Cookie Jar Basket SetVintage Mappin Webb Silver Plated Fostoria Cube Glass Biscuit Barrel Cookie JarWonder Woman Cookie JarPugnacious Pug Cookie Jar " Cookie Passion"Vintage Usa 1940's Shawnee Pottery Winnie The Pig Blue Cookie Jar Nice NrNew Fiesta Hlc Scarlet (red) Glazed Dancing Lady Figurine Cookie JarShawnee Pottery #60 Smiley Pig Cookie Jar Coin Piggy BankSet Of Two ~ Shawnee Winnie Pig Cookie Jars, Blue Pink Collar Farmer Flower*vintage* Shawnee Shamrock Smiley Pig Cookie Jar Usa Stamped *no Chips* Auction!Vintage 1950's Humpty Dumpty Cookie JarRare Neca Cheech & Chong Cookie Jar Set Resin Head Busts Statues-up In SmokeClay Art 2002 Miss Marilyn Monroe Grand Marshal Cookie Jar Disney's Alice In Wonderland 4 Character Ceramic Canister/cookie Jar RareShawnee Blue Flower Winnie Pig Cookie Jar *gold* - Excellent ConditionWestland Giftware Elvis Presley Pink Convertible Cookie Jar New #18386Blue Hill Rowantrees Pottery Ceramic Kitchen Crock Cookie Jar With Lid & TrivetSuper Rare Vintage Walt Disney Donald Duck / Chip & Dale Cookie JarDisney Villian Cookie JarEuropean Porcelain Figural Cookie Jar - Late 19th Century - Rare The Pillsbury Dough Boy Christmas Cookie Jar The Dansbury Mint13.5" Disney Goofy Treasure Craft Cookie Jar For Kitchen, Show, CollectingAlice In Wonderland Chelshire Cat Cookie JarOriginal California Pottery Pumpkin Cookie Jar, By MetloxDisney Cookie JarVintage Turquoise Gay Fad Cookie Jar Canister W/ Lid Bartlett CollinsVintage Mccoy Cookie Jar,clown In A BarrelHalloween Skeleton Cookie Jar- Awesome- RareBad Witch Cookie Jar The Wizard Of Oz. Limited Edition CollectibleRobinson Ransbottom Sailor Jack Cookie Jar- VintageDisney's Alice In Wonderland Cookie Jar In Original Labeled Box. #64054Raph Raphael Cookie Jar Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TmntReproduction Vintage Style Cookie Time Cookie Jar By Jonal" 9 3/4"x 8 1/2" Vintage Redwing Pottery Cookie Jar Dancing Peasants Dutch Cold Painted 10" Disney Gibson Large Cinderella Cookie Jar Excellant Non Used ConditionCow Jumped Over The Moon Cookie Jar, Bhp-new YorkRoseville Pottery Magnolia Brown Double Handle Cookie Jar 2-8Hall's Crocus Cookie Jar "pretzel" Pattern HandlesFitz & Floyd Halcyon Bunny Rabbit Cookie Jar Stunning Nib New Spring Pansies 10"Fitz And Floyd " Bunny Blooms" Cookie Jar W/box Retired Wile E. Coyote Road Runner Warner Bros. Studio Store Cooie Jar RareVintage Hand Painted Ceramic Art Owl Cookie Jar By Rush-teco~limited EditionVintage Mccoy Grandfather Clock Cookie Jar 1962 - 1964 No Chips Or CracksVintage Hocking Pink Depression Glass Old Colony Lace Edge Cookie Jar