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 Fiesta Kitchen Kraft Atomic Yellow Funky Retro Cookie JarMetlox Little Red Riding Hood Cookie JarVintage Fiesta Kitchen Kraft Cookie Jar Radioactive Red 6.5" Diameter RetroVintage Lustroware Aqua Cookies Canister Plastic Cookie Jar Free ShippingVintage Roseville Pottery Cow Jumped Over The Moon Cookie JarMackenzie-childs Courtly Check Enamel Metal & Glass Cookie Jar - UsedVintage Brush Usa Stylized Siamese Cat Cookie Jar 1940's Shawnee Muggsy Toothache Dog Ceramic Cookie Jar Flower Patt. W Gold TrimNice 1992 Fitz And Floyd Bunny Rabbit On Rocker Ceramic Cookie Jar 10 1/2" TallSmiley Pig Cookie Jar W/gold Button Flower Decals Yellow KerchiefRare-vintage Fitz & Floyd Woodland Spring Ceramic Cookie Jar - RabbitsAnthropologie Wise Ol' Owl Orange Ceramic Cookie Jar, Retro-style, Never UsedVintage Green Depression Glass Hoosier Cookie Jar Canister 8" High NeatVery Rare Louisville Stoneware Noah's Ark Cookie Jar 12" Giraffe Heads Cookie Jar Lid, Fostoria American Clear, Moundsville, VaElmer Horse Cookie JarRare 1950 Davy Crockett Cookie Jar - Sierra - Vista, Pasadena , Ca - GoodRare 1950's Aunt Jemima Red Plastic Quaker Oats Promo Cookie JarAmerican Bisque "have A Cookie" Cheerleader Flasher Corner Cookie Jar - 802 UsaDisney's Donald Duck Cookie Jar By Dan BrechnerAdorable Owl Cookie Jar1994 Warner Bros Studio Store Gossamer & Bugs Bunny Cookie JarHull Regal Little Red Riding Hood Cookie Jar Base Only Poppy135889 Closed BasketCookie Jar "cow Jumped Over The Moon" Brush Mccoy Blue With Lid Winnie The Pooh 4 Canister Set Disney Direct Tigger Piglet Eeyore Cookie JarPeter Max Cookie JarVintage Green Hippo Cookie Jar My Little Kitchen Fairies Cookie Jar, Excellent Condition, Fairie W/cookie, 2006Vintage Donald Duck W/ Pumpkin Cookie Jar - Walt Disney Productions - Pristine!Mammy Aunt Jemima Ceramic Cookie Jar - Signed Mccoy Black AmericanaVintage Napco Cookies Cookie Jar, Japan, Vgc 8" TallPug Dog Cookie Jar For KitchenBeautiful Could Be Franciscan Apple Pattern Vintage Cookie Jar W/lid - 9"Cookie Jar Vintage Los Angeles Pottery 1956 Rare Disney Rocketeer Bulldog Cafe Cookie Jar By Treasure Craft 19911994 Official Big Boy Ceramic Cookie JarMccoy Hamm's Beer Bear Cookie Jar-niceVintage Shawnee Cookie Jar Blue Skirt "jill Cooky" Little Dutch Girl 1940's 1993 Shawnee Puss N Boots Cookie Jar Gold Trim 79/150 *signed* Ford, SupnickMr Peanut Cobalt Blue Glass Cookie Jar Large 13" T Planters Ad AdvertisingJuicy Couture Cookie Jar Charm Authentic Nib Mccoy Sad Clown Cookie Jar VintageNew Fat Chef Man And Woman Chef Ceramic Cookie Jar Kitchen DecorAunt Jemimi Cookie JarVintage Grandma Rabbit Cookie JarOhio State Buckeyes Football Cookie JarFitz & Floyd Gooney Bird Duck Cookie JarVintage Brush Mccoy Davey Crockett Cookie JarBeautiful Harry & David Limited Edition Cookie Jar~ Bird~flowers~butterfliesAntique / Vintage Original Shawnee Smiley Pig Cookie Jar With Lid - Very Old!Beautiful Decrative Easter Cookie Jar1940's Shawnee Clover Bud Winnie Pig Cookie Jar - Excellent!!!!Vintage Treasure Craft "cookie Time" Cookie Jar With Clock Face, MarkedHarley Davidson Tank Cookie Jar 1992 Excellent ConditionFitz And Floyd Ms. Rabbit Cookie JarVintage Us Olympic Diving Team Pelican Cookie Jar Metlox Poppytrail Pottery Usa Treasure Craft Disney Snow White Dopey Cookie Jar Pfaltzgraff Free Us ShippingLenox Winter Greetings New In Box Cookie Jar~sculpted~red Ribbons~cardinal On ToVintage Tuggle The Tug Boat Pottery Cookie Jar By Sierra Vista CaliforniaFitz And Floyd Herb Garden Rabbit Cookie Jar