by Skip Duncan
This story is about an nostalgic cookie jar handed down from one generation to another.
Grandma’s Cookie Jar
Nancy had a love of pottery when she was seven years old and visited her Grandma Sophia’s house in the summer. There was a cookie jar on top of the refrigerator in the huge country kitchen. She had never seen her grandma even bake cookies let along fill that special jar. When she went to visit her grandpa’s house, her Aunt Gertie always made plain sugar cookies and kept them in a worn-looking turquoise tin box next to the last shelf near the floor. It was always filled with cookies, but she didn’t like plain old sugar cookies and always wished that her Aunt Gertie would have made chocolate chip ones instead.
Let me tell you why Nancy liked this particular cookie jar. It appealed to her because it reminded her of the one time she had gone to the circus with her dad and mom. The bottom of the jar was painted with small stripes of many colors—brown, turquoise, black and rust, alternated on a cream colored background. But what Nancy liked most of all was two little tigers sitting wide-eyed on top of the lid. She loved that cookie jar but was sad that it was never used.
“Grandma let’s make some chocolate chip cookies today.” Nancy said.
“Oh, no, not today,” her grandma replied, “we’ll see. Maybe tomorrow.”
Nancy knew that when she heard her grandma say, “We’ll see,” it never happened. Then a couple of years later, Nancy went to visit during summer vacation. The cookie jar was not on the top of the refrigerator. Nancy was concerned about not seeing it. Did someone break it or did they just get rid of it? She wished her grandma would have let her take it home, but she feared it was too late. She hadn’t even told her how much she liked that jar with the two little tigers on top.
“Nancy, I have a surprise for you that you are going to like,” Grandma Sophia said. “I have baked you some cookies, and guess what kind they are?”
“I bet they are chocolate chip ones,” Nancy excitedly said. “May I have one? Where is my favorite cookie jar? I didn’t see it on the top of the refrigerator,” she said. “I was afraid something happened to it.”
“Oh, no, Nancy,” her grandma said. “You reminded me that pottery cookie jars were meant to be used and not just put on display, so I made chocolate chip cookies especially for you.”
Nancy couldn’t have had a better treat on her visit, for she had hoped that one day her grandma would finally bake a batch for her.
Years later, though, the pottery cookie jar was back on the top of the refrigerator. No more chocolate chip cookies were ever baked and placed in the jar. One day her Aunt Hilda inherited the cookie jar and took it to her home in the city. Out of tradition, she, too, placed it on top of her refrigerator; and it was on display there as well. It probably didn’t occur to her to bake cookies and store them in the jar.
Another few years passed, and Nancy’s mother inherited the pottery cookie jar with the two little tigers on the lid. She was too busy to bake. Once in awhile at Christmas time, she made some fudge, but no cookies. Nancy and her sister Donna agreed that one day when they had their own home they were going to open up a bakery and make cookies every day. Well, that never happened, but she saw to it that she became a very good cook and so did her sister Donna. In fact she loved cookie jars so much that she and Donna decided to collect a few of their own. Her first love, was for the one she remembered as a child, and she did some research on the company. She learned that the company was started in 1900 when Frank Ransbottom and his brother started a pottery in Roseville, Ohio. What was interesting to her was that around 1916 the company merged with Robinson Clay Products Company, and the name was changed to RRP Company which was the mark stamped on the bottom of her favorite cookie jar. The initials stood for both companies. Although the company closed in 2005, her research indicated that the pottery will no doubt become more collectible and valuable in the future.
Eventually, years later, Nancy inherited the cookie jar, but she didn’t place it on top of the refrigerator. She vowed to start a new tradition. It was meant to be accessible to her family and filled to the brim with a variety of cookies including the famous chocolate chip cookies. In plain sight, sitting on the counter by the coffee pot, is the Robinson Ransbottom pottery cookie jar stamped on the bottom with the name RRP, Roseville, Ohio,
Over seventy years have gone by since Nancy first admired the jar with the tigers on the lid and the stripes of color that reminded her of going to the circus.
Now for others of you who have a nostalgic cookie jar, here is the recipe for those famous cookies that Nancy made many times for her family and friends throughout the years. Enjoy them.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup shortening (Crisco) and half margarine
2 cups brown sugar packed
Stir in: ¼ cup water
Add 1 tsp. vanilla
Sift together: 4 cups sifted Gold Medal Flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
Mix in: 1 6 oz. pkg. chocolate chips
Chill dough for 2 hours. Roll into balls the size of walnuts. Place two inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Flatten each ball and make imprint with a fork.
Bake 8-10 minutes in moderately hot oven 350 degrees until lightly brown.
Makes 5 dozen.