A Brief History of Mason Jars

At Hilsher’s General Store, we sell a variety of housewares to those from Selinsgrove and the surrounding areas. Canning supplies are a popular item and, of course, so are Mason jars. Did you know that Mason jars have been around since the 1800s? And they wouldn’t be around if it wasn’t for Napoleon?

The French military and political leader needed a reliable way to preserve food for his troops, so in 1795, he offered money to anyone who could come up with a new method of transporting food from spot to spot. Nicolas Appert came up with the canning process around 1806, but that only solved part of the problem because the jars they used at that time were not reusable and were actually quite messy.

In 1858, the Mason jar we all know and love made its debut. Invited by John L. Mason in New York City, the difference between these jars and the other ones on the market at that point were the fact that the lids were reusable and could be screwed onto the tops of the jars. They could easily be resealed thanks to the zinc lid with a rubber ring, so food stayed safely preserved for quite some time.

In 1879, the patent expired on Mason jars, and that brought about different brands, variations and improvements. But Mason still remains one of the most well-known types of glass jars on the market today.

The design of the Mason jar continued to evolved and improve in the following century and became a popular housewares item for families all over. There was an improvement made in the lid sealing in the mid 1900s, and these lid improvements made the canning process that much faster. From that point on, Mason jars became a common household item.

While the 1950s brought us refrigerators and other ways to keep our food good and preserved, Mason jars remained popular. Forty years later, in the 1990s, magazines and TV programs like Martha Stewart Living revitalized these jars’ popularity.

From that point on, it is safe to say that just about everyone knows what a Mason jar is. And they are not just for housewares and canning anymore either! Mason jars have a variety of uses and purposes. People use them for everything from drinking glasses to decorations to light sconces and everything in between.

Are you interested in browsing through and purchasing housewares in the Selinsgrove area? Visit Hilsher’s General Store and browse through our selection! We are located on Routes 11/15. Or you can call 570-374-1550 or you can Contact Us.

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