The next thing that came from Buffalo is the Ball jar—the mass-produced Mason jar—originally used to can and store fresh made sauces and other foods. Beyond its original purpose, the Ball jar is now used to make any number of things, including “oil lanterns, soap dispensers, terrariums, drinking glasses, speakers, vases, planters, and snow globes.”
The Mason jar is named after John Landis Mason who introduced a ribbed neck and a screw-on cap to “heat-based canning” jars that brought to the canning process a reliable airtight seal.
Mass production in the early 20th century is what made Mason jars ubiquitous in the US. And the first and most prolific manufacturer was Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company, now known as Ball Corporation, founded in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1880 by the Ball brothers.
While you still see most mason jars etched “Ball”, in cursive, next to an engraved cornucopia, Ball Corporation got out of home canning in 1993. Ball brand mason jars and home canning supplies business now belongs to Newell Brands. Still printed at the bottom of the jars, “Made in U.S.A.”
Ariana Kelly writes in The Atlantic:
“Particularly useful for people who lived in areas with short growing seasons, canning and Mason jars were integral elements of farming culture, where jams and pickles were judged and awarded prizes at fairs and festivals…Jams and pickles and various kinds of sauces were also exchanged as gifts, and vestiges of that culture remain in the jars of preserved goods people sometimes give each other at holidays.
The Mason jar’s resurgence is due, in part, to the variety of ways in which it can be repurposed. Google “Mason jar” and you’ll find numerous sites that evangelize its astonishing utility…It’s repeatedly praised for its reusability, its aesthetic appeal, and its purity: Mason jars aren’t mixed up with some of the more nefarious chemicals used to produce plastic.”
This is just one great thing that came from Buffalo, check in tomorrow to see number eight.