Cookie jars offer taste of nostalgia

Cookie jars offer taste of nostalgia
By Carleton Varney

Special to the Daily News

Milk and cookies — what a treat for afternoon or evening. This classic duo seems to evoke of-the-moment pleasure and happy memories in almost everyone. Some of the airlines even serve the specialty on planes, much to the delight of travelers.

There is a bakery at 19 Commerce St. in New York’s Greenwich Village simply named Milk and Cookies. The owner, Tina Casaceli, has been baking special cookie treats for nine years. Those of you who travel to New York on occasion should make a point of visiting this tiny shop, with its old-fashioned counter of marble, pale blue walls and wooden board floor.

The little bakery is in a building built alongside some of the village’s charming Federal-style houses and is often on Greenwich Village history tours. The cookies produced by Casaceli in that bakery recall homemade treats such as something from mama’s kitchen. In addition to the chocolate chip variety, you’ll find fresh-baked graham crackers and oatmeal cookies, all as American as a vintage cookie jar.

Cookie-jar collecting is a passion of many, and a display cabinet or hutch filled with cookie jars is definitely a home-decorating plus. I have seen Dutch Boy cookie jars, sailboat jars, Santa jars, dog jars and others with sparkly, happy faces. What kitchen in America, even the most modern, would not welcome a touch of yesterday on the countertop?

You can easily buy contemporary-style glass cookie jars on the market, some with stainless-steel covers, but to me landing a jar from the 1940s or ’50s is a wonderful collectible treat. My late friend, the artist Andy Warhol, was a great fan of cookie jars, and when his collection sold at auction some time ago, it brought high numbers.

A vintage cookie jar may seem a small thing, but it’s the sort of item that adds such a note of charm to an interior.

Glance through any number of catalogs and you’ll find reproductions of vintage metal-framed glider chairs as a top attraction — the kind you used to see on porches far and wide. I often see the designs of yesterday reinterpreted to become the designs of today, from furniture to fashion.

Is this happening because today’s designers have lost the ability to create fresh concepts? No. Designers revisit styles of yesteryear because they were functionally on target and bring back happy memories. Who doesn’t smile a little when they see a stainless-steel diner bar stool with a red-vinyl seat?

With so much at our fingertips via the Internet, today is truly an age of discovery. And the best discovery may just be that things of the past are as precious as they were way back when the cookie jar was filled with homemade goodies and the milk was poured from a home-delivered bottle, still with the cream on the top.


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