Mason Jars

The mason jar was invented in 1858 by a tinsmith named John Landis Mason.1 This American invention allowed for much more sufficient storage and preservation of foods. Before this invention, Americans were using pickling, salting, and various other methods of food preservation. Mason jars were revolutionary because they created a vacuum which was air tight and allowed for safer and easier storage. There was less possibility of air entering the jar which would cause the contents to become contaminated.

Mason jars were considered safer than tin cans and glass jars. According to a 1920s study, “visible dirt in cans and jars consists largely of fine soil particles, dust, coal-dust, soot, cinders, paper, grease, wood, lint and even nails, vermin excrement and insects.”2. The sealing method of the mason jar allowed for this type of contamination to be limited.

The mason jar was clear which allowed for the contents to be visible. This allowed food storage to become more efficient because families could tell what the contents of the jars were without having to open them. The jars spread quickly across America and a variety of mason jar companies arose after Mason’s patent expired.

Mason jars continue to be popular in the 21st century. They are a classic household item found all across America. They are easily considered an alternative, if not, just as successful as Tupperware.

Display of home canned food using mason jar
Fig 1 “Display of Home-Canned Food.” United States. [Between 1941 and 1945] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed April 03, 2017.)


1. [C. R. Fellers, “Tin Cans and Glass Jars as Bacterial Contaminants in Canned Foods,” American Journal of Public Health and the Nation’s Health 18, no 6. (June 1928): 1-8.]]
2. [Karin, McKenna, “The Mason Jar,” Bee Culture 144, no. 1. (January 2016).]]


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