The Mason jar is back. If my late Grandma Carver was still around to see the different sizes, colors and uses for the jars, she'd accuse Pop Carver of spiking the pickles she preserved in them. And Pop would be ducking when Grandma realized the trusty jars are plastic, not the traditional glass.
Grandma's reaction would pale in comparison to John Landis Mason seeing someone sipping a smoothie out of a tinted green insulated Mason tumbler branded “Aladdin” with a handle and plastic straw sticking through the stainless steel lid.
Mason patented his jar in 1858, the threaded neck and screw-on lid sparking a home-canning revolution by making it safe and easy to preserve green beans, tomatoes, peaches, berries and other goodies fresh from the garden. He wasn't as careful with the patent rights, assigning them to another company and eventually dying with a cupboard bare of canned food.
During its heyday from 1939 through 1949, more than 3 million Mason jars were sold. In the 1950s, canning became a lost art and demand dwindled as Americans abandoned farms for the cities.
Today, original Mason jars are prized collectibles. They also are inspiring a new generation of jars that would have Grandma asking, “What's the world coming to?”
One of the companies behind the Mason jar's revival is Cool Gear International.
“It's really an iconic shape,” says David Conrad, creative director for Cool Gear. “Just by taking the top off, it became a drinking vessel.”
That happens to be Cool Gear's specialty.
“It started as a little bit of a joke in a way,” Conrad admits, noting a typical user comment: ‘You don't have any glasses around; we can use this.'
“When we started seeing people responding to that form, we said, ‘Okay, how do we really make this to what people want it to be and do what we do best which is an on-the-go hydration solution.' It just became a no-brainer.”