A toast to the old Mason Jar

February 27, 2015

18  comments

DSC00575Generations of Southern homemakers are rolling over in their graves, agonizing over the new-found obsession with the common Ball Mason jar. Once relegated to the kitchen cupboard for “put-up” okra and pickles, the plain-Jane container is now a hot home accessory.

cb0a1ff5cfff93b2291f41b778638d33You can’t throw a fit without hitting a magazine that doesn’t feature a sleek, upscale event where cocktails, tea, or even dessert is served from old jars, often spiffied up with ribbons and bows. The iconic glass jars have even been made into expensive dangling light fixtures for chic kitchens. I couldn’t resist the trend myself, and bought a soap dispenser made from an old jar with a pump built into the lid and must say, it’s as cute as a bug.

 

9d130b1be7de54d75964f2bd5cafc7cfBut I’ve been told the women who came before me in my family would have never in a million years, put a Mason jar on their table as a drinking glass, let alone stuck even the commonest of daisy in it. They tried hard to shake their country beginnings, and like the mighty oak shading the front porch, thought it best to cover their roots.

cobbler-toast-in-Fairhope

These women saved and carefully counted their S&H Green Stamps to purchase respectable glassware and vases for the table. They pored over the pages of Good Housekeeping to learn how to make a proper Jell-O fruit mold and where to place the fish fork – things their rural mothers didn’t know. But one thing they knew by instinct, was that jars do not belong on the table. I was even taught to put the mayonnaise in a serving dish and to never let the jar touch the table, because that would be common, and who, pray tell, wants to be common?

PoFolksExterior_4CI.epsBack in the 1980’s, when Mason jars were still a utilitarian item, the unfortunately named “Po’ Folks” restaurant served my water in a Mason Jar. “May I please have a glass?” I asked my server, who laughed and said, “Sure honey, a lot of people ask for a glass every day.” Is it any wonder then, why they went out of business? We just weren’t ready to expose those country roots just yet.

72d5b19a5fc2939a77d183494f616e60But fast forward to 2015 and the popularity of Mason jars has introduced a new way to entertain. Beaming brides no longer dream of wedding receptions in the fellowship hall with silver punch bowls filled with color-coordinated sherbet punch. The stylish reception now, is held in an old country barn, with guests seated on bales of hay and punch being served in chilled . . . Mason jars.06a2f6d4489ccb08d93e9d5fd4da43ea

Department stores have reported that young couples are no longer registering for fine china, and instead are quite content in listing their gift preferences at Target. Saying “heck no” to the Lennox, Tiffany and Waterford, these young couples are saying “I do” to the Black and Decker, Char-Broil and again . . . practical Mason jars.

“Oh look Mama! Cousin Darla Ray gave me a set of the new pint sized jars! Now I can accommodate the entire family for Thanksgiving!”shoo-fly-punch-sl-x

Fads and trends often reveal a general sentiment within society, and it’s my guess that our current need to “country-fy” everything is a longing for simpler times. We’re looking for days when cell phones didn’t ring, TV’s didn’t blare and traffic didn’t stress. It’s the opposite of what our grandparents searched for when they covered their “plain” hardwood floors with wall-to-wall carpeting and pitched out the “old” furniture for a sleeker mod-look. They searched for excitement out of the country – while we search for peace within the symbolic barn.

And that’s precisely why the hurried, over-scheduled generation we’ve just raised wants to toast their future with a glass of iced tea, served in an old Mason jar.

*

 

This story first appeared in my column,“Southern with a Gulf Coast Accent,” which can be found in these fine Gulf Coast Media newspapers: The Courier, The Foley Onlooker, The Islander, The Times Independent and The Sumter Item in South Carolina. 

To see my recipe for cobbler in a jar, click HERE.

To see my (fascinating- yawn!) Easter, Christmas and Mardi Gras jars, click HERE. (It’s a mason jar obsession!)

  • Thank you for another wonderful post! If I see one more Mason jar craft or wedding photo – I’m going to throw a hissy fit! It’s been done to death and as someone who cans it just seems to wrong to me. I suppose it’s just one more fad that will need to run its course.
    Recently I was watching an old ‘Bewitched’ episode and I happened to notice as they were sitting down to breakfast that the milk was in a small pitcher; not the container in which it was delivered or purchased. It made me think about all the short-cuts I take, rather than placing items in attractive serving pieces. The bottles of ketchup & mustard go on the table, the milk carton, the jam jar and the salad dressing bottle all make their appearances at the table in the containers they where in when I brought them home from the store. Ugh!
    No more! I’m in search of condiment sets for all of the above so that my beautifully set table will no longer be corrupted.

    P.S. Fairhope was certainly on my mind this weekend; it was mentioned in an episode of “Hart of Dixie” and in a book I’m reading “Never Sit Down in a Hoop Skirt…”.

  • A long time ago before jars were fashionable, I collected those now popular Ball jars just because they made me think of and remember my grandmother. Because I love blue in my kitchen, I collected those. They line up the length of my counter, each holding dried beans, pasta, and other ingredients I use in my cooking. From humble beginnings, they have finally become the belle of the Ball!

    Love your post!

    Take care.

  • What a nice post! One of the reselling blogs I follow is by a woman who makes good money selling old blue-green mason jars by the lot. Most buyers are using them for weddings. Also, apparently if they have a #13 on the bottom, they’re worth a little more.

    • I always get confused as to which ones are more valuable. I have few larger jars with zinc lids, and I know those are nice. The Ball company has also reissued the blue jars and now they are making lavender! Just in time for spring!

  • You’re southern to the core and you are just the cutest thing! Love the way you write and I’ve many sips of sweet tea out of a mason jar! Who would ever have thought how ‘famous’ they would become. Thanks for popping in to see me.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia 😉

  • Your story about these jars bring back fond memories of working with my Mother in the kitchen during “canning season”. Love your photographs too.

  • You are cute as a bug! I love all of the Southern sayings that you sprinkle throughout your posts. Ah, yes, Mason jars. My brother and sister-in-law have a theme each year for their Thanksgiving dinner. A couple of years ago it was “Hillbilly Thanksgiving”. They made wine glasses by gluing Mason jars onto glass candlesticks.
    Think about the Mason Jar Company, faced with what I have to believe is a declining population of home canners and then all of a sudden their simple, humble jars are the darlings of every table scape, party decor and craft project. Wow!!

    • That’s so funny, because I know someone in North Florida who also had a “Hillbilly Thanksgiving” with Red Solo cups and candlesticks! Maybe we know each other’s “people!”

      • Quite a few, and I have seen them used in so many adorable ways.

        However, I am finding I like the more formal ways a bit more in my old age. My daughter was married a year ago, and she chose the more formal look for her reception. I even mentioned she might not want to pick out china, but she would have none of that. She enjoyed picking her pattern. It is nice to be able to do both these days.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
    >