When Frank and Edmund Ball started their company more than 130 years ago in Buffalo, New York, they made kerosene and paint cans. A few years later, they added a more eye-catching product to their line: a glass canning jar. The sturdy vessel, embossed with the distinctive Ball logo, would become an iconic American kitchen staple, used primarily for preserving and pickling. Aside from improvements to the two-part lid (now BPA-free), the jar’s design hasn’t changed much, says Steve Hungsberg, senior brand manager at Jarden Home Brands, which acquired the glass division of Ball in 1993. If anything, its makers plumb the past for inspiration: Last year, Jarden released replicas of Ball’s blue 1913 Perfect Mason jar, selling eight times what the company had projected; this year -- collectors, get ready -- it’s reissuing the brand’s green 1914 Perfection line.
Why We Love Them
Pretty and practical, Ball jars are being repurposed these days as cocktail glasses, vases, and general-use containers. The vintage versions—in pale blue, amethyst, and light green -- look lovely next to Ball’s new offerings.