In case you've ever wondered why we call canning jars "mason jars," Hilary Greenbaum and Dana Rubinstein come to the rescue with this article on The New York Times explaining its brief but flourishing history. The success, it seems, was not only due to a reliable seal but also the now-taken-for-granted ability to see what was in the jar.
The Mason jar was different. With its threaded neck and screw-on lid, “the canner could form a seal as hot liquids cooled,” writes Mary Ellen Snodgrass in The Encyclopedia of Kitchen History. Mason jars, made of a manganese-bleached glass, were also transparent. “Being able to see what you have on hand and what’s going on inside the bottle, that’s what’s really important,” says Megan Elias, the author of “Stir It Up: Home Economics in American Culture.”
Mason never capitalized on his success. He assigned his patent rights to another company and died a charity case — the invention that bore his name helped spark a home-canning revolution that lasted until the 1950s.
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