Collecting "Advertising" Cookie Jars

Vintage cookie jar collecting is increasing in popularity, and one of the hottest areas of interest is the select few of them that bare notable advertising images. You know the ones I mean - cookie jars that promote everything from Archway Cookies to Wells Fargo. Cookie jars designed around manufacturer advertising and logos possess a dual appeal in the collectibles marketplace. They attract cookie jar specialists, as well as those who that are interested in collecting a particular manufacturer's advertising - i.e. Coke, Pillsbury, Harley-Davidson, etc.

The first advertising cooking jars began appearing on store shelves in the late 1940s and early 50s. They were generally filled with cookies or the manufacturer's product, or possibly a closely related product. However, as this form of "branding" grew in popularity, jars began to find their way to store shelves that contained a wide range of goods from flour to pet food. For manufactures, advertising cookie jars created the long term effect as a "continual brand name reminder", since the jar could sit for decades on kitchen counters. For retailers they served a dual incentive. Often consumers bought the jar to get the product, or they bought product to get the jar. Either way it was a win-win situation for the store owner and the manufacturer alike.

Aunt Jemima Pancake Flour is famous for one of the earliest and best received advertising crusades involving cookie jars. In 1951 they introduced a nationwide campaign for a plastic cookie jar in the likeness of their logo Aunt Jemima herself. The jar was a mail-order premium that required a box top from Aunt Jemima Ready-Mix and one dollar. The literature and displays billed the jar as "durable, sparkling plastic. Easily cleaned in hot water. Extra-wide top opening. Easy to open. Shuts tight." The red, white and black jars were produced for Aunt Jemima by F & F Mold And Die Company of Dayton, Ohio. The success of this promotion spurred the Aunt Jemima company to follow up with an entire line of plastic kitchen-related premiums including salt and pepper sets, toothpick holders and creamers.

The 1970s saw an explosion of large national companies expanding into ceramic cookie jar advertising. These companies turned to leading pottery manufacturers to design and produce jars for their campaigns. Nabisco commissioned McCoy Pottery for several of their cookie jars. During that time period McCoy and Regal China also made a very popular jar for Quaker Oats. McCoy then produced a cookie jar to advertise Barnum's Animal Crackers, which resembled the original product box with the inclusion of a clown's head for the jar's top. California Originals produced some well known advertising cookie jars during the 1970s, including an Avon bear wearing his bright red sweater. Perhaps their best known creation jar was the Pillsbury Doughboy.

During the 1980s and early 1990s the trend for new advertising cookie jars continued. Stroh's introduced a cookie jar in the shape of their beer truck; Milk-Bone came up with a jar in the shape of a dog house; Borden's used their famous "Elsie the Cow" sitting on top of a barrel for a cookie jar design; Pillsbury Flour appeared in a sack-shaped cookie jar and even Harley-Davidson Motorcycles got into the action with a figural pig promotion. Planet Hollywood came out with a bright blue "planet" ceramic cookie jar. The promotion also had similarly shaped salt and pepper shakers that customers could purchase to accompany it. McCoy got back in the fray with such advertising cookie jars as the "Keebler treehouse" for Keebler's Cookies and the "coke can" for Coca Cola.

Now, after over fifty years of grand designs the age of "advertising cookie jar promotions" has waned, but for the collector this of course is good news. It simply means that their collectibles will increase in value since fewer jars are available. No wonder experts agree that vintage advertising cookie jars are undervalued on today's market and should spiral upwards sometime in the near future.

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