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Cookie Jar Collection at Apple Hill Antiques Offers a Unique History |

Cookie Jar Collection at Apple Hill Antiques Offers a Unique History

The word “cookie” comes from the Dutch word “koekje,” meaning small or little cake. The existence of cookies is documented for as long as baking has existed.

The first cookies were created by accident. Bakers used a small batch of cake batter to test the oven temperature before baking a large cake.

In the 1700s, German settlers in Pennsylvania introduced the sugar cookie, which now is the state’s official cookie.

In 1937, innkeepers Ruth and Keith Wakefield offered butter drop cookies to their guests. One day, Ruth Wakefield decided to break up a chocolate bar into her cookie dough, and the chocolate chip cookie was born.

The origin of the Christmas cookie is believed to have started with an ancient Norse myth. During the “yule” season, Odin, a Norse God, would ride through villages on an eight-legged horse. The villagers would place treats out for Odin. The tradition became popular in America during the Great Depression, as parents tried to teach their children it was important to give to others to show their thanks for the gifts they would receive Christmas morning. Around this time, cookie jars also became popular.

Cookie jars, or biscuit barrels, were first made of glass with screw-on lids. By the 1930s, stoneware or ceramic cookie jars were found in many a kitchen.  

Apple Hill Antiques currently is featuring a dazzling display of cookie jars in its collectors’ case. The jars are part of the collection of William and Cherry Neff, of Millheim. Over the years, the Neffs amassed a collection of 300-plus cookie jars. After their passing, their children divided up the collection and are now offering parts of the collection for sale.

The collection includes jars by some of the more prominent manufacturers, including McCoy and Shawnee. There also are three jars by artist Rick Wisecarver, of Roseville, Ohio, who came from a long line of potters and artists. He was mostly known for his Native American artwork, and the pieces in the cookie jar collection depict a teepee, Geronimo and an Indian maiden.

Also founded in Roseville was the J.W. McCoy pottery company. McCoy produced a variety of pieces, including vases, dinnerware and, of course, cookie jars.

The Shawnee Pottery Company operated in Zanesville, Ohio, from 1937 to 1961. The collection includes two Dutch girl jars from Shawnee.

One of the featured cookie jars is a police car manufactured by Ceramicar, which has a unique history. Started in 1934, the company produced actual ceramic cars. During World War II, the Ceramicar was made of non-essential materials, so it only made sense to produce these vehicles. Shortly after the war, gas prices began to rise, and that led to the demise of the Ceramicar. The body of the car was so heavy that it used too much gas.

The blue prints for these ceramic cars were thought to be lost, until artist Henry Cavanagh located the originals in 1992. He began producing replicas of the original ceramic cars on a much smaller scale as cookie jars.

The collection also offers several children’s favorites, such as Disney’s “101 Dalmatians” and Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage. Other favorites include Raggedy Andy, Tigger and a cow jumping over the moon. For “Star Wars” enthusiasts, there is a 1977 C-3PO.

This collection of 23 cookie jars will be on display all through the end of December at Apple Hill Antiques, 105 Gerald St., State College.

The store is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information, call (717) 649-0959

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