folder Filed in America, Food
The End of the Mason Jar
H.D. Miller comment 28 Comments access_time 4 min read

Ten years ago, serving a drink in a Mason jar was something only done in the privacy of your own home, where your neighbors couldn’t find out, or at the Cracker Barrel, as a way of getting into the Hee Haw spirit of  biscuits, country ham and Chinese-made Americana gimcrakery.

Then… suddenly…Hipsters!

Southern Hipsters!

Next thing you know, Mason jars were hot, hot, hot!

It sort of made sense. The Southern food renaissance was well underway,  shrimp and grits were on every menu, and collards were being pot-likkered in every corner of this great nation.

Pretty soon, you’ve decided to start up your own basic, trustifarian, heritage-breed, whole-pig BBQ in Williamsburg, with the rough barn wood and the fake Mail Pouch signs in the dining room. And although you are continually having to make decisions about things like sauces and silverware, there was never any question about how to serve your signature, $17, Mountain Dew Moonshine cocktails (made with real Sun Drop imported from Huntsville, AL) because the natural choice was, is, and always will be a Mason jar. It’s been a Southern thing for like ever, right?

Unfortunately, the whole Mason jar gestalt has now gotten away from us and is rolling down hill like a dirty snowball, squishing up food stylists and bloggers, getting bigger and bigger, arms and legs sticking out everywhere until, finally, it slams into this…

Chilled Black Bean, Feta and Cucumber Salad
Chilled Black Bean, Feta and Cucumber Salad from the Kitchn

“I’m making bean salad, let’s serve it in a jar!”

No. Let’s not, Olivia. Let’s serve it in a bowl, so I don’t have to spend the next 47 minutes trying to fish the last kernels of corn out of my jar with a long-handled teaspoon.

Or this…

Paleo Chicken Salad in a Jar
Paleo Mason Jar Chicken Taco Salad from yum google

Put your shoes back on, Crossfit Nature Boy, and get back in that kitchen and bring me out some carbs, on a plate, with a fork.

Or…what the…

Mason Jar Salads for Wedding Reception from BV Weddings

“It’ll be so fun for your guests. You go through the buffet line, get a jar and sit down. There’s  the dressing at the bottom. Just turn it over, shake, and your shrimp-kiwi-chunks-of-ham-raspberry-lettuce salad is covered in ranch dressing!”

“I love it! LOVE IT!!!”

That was the moment when Brandon began to think that maybe the French Foreign Legion was in his future.

Query: What has salad ever done to merit such humiliation? What is it that makes so many food stylists think it belongs in a jar?

Speaking of humiliation, Dip meet Jar…

Simple Layer Dip from the Savvy Mom

As with a cathedral, a mosque or a baseball field, a sacred Euclidian geometry should govern the chip-to-dip relationship: the chip, a simple triangle rendered elegant by its graceful curves, must fit completely and comfortably into the container which holds it’s Platonic dip-mate. Verily, it must be able to scoop at that dip, lest it fail to perform the function for which it was fried.

In other words, I have a broken chip in my hand….and some SOB is going to die.

After the salad and appetizer, how about a main course…

Pizza in a Jar
Pizza in a Jar from 1 Fine Cookie

Now you’re just taunting me.

So, it turns out that your BBQ place isn’t making it. Rents are too high and your waitstaff insufficiently dismissive of the customers, plus, BBQ is hard to get right. Really hard. Who knew?  Maybe you should buy a sous vide and a centrifuge.

In the meantime, you’ve got a lot of Mason jars sitting around and a walk-in full of pig. That’s when you have the most brilliant idea ever…

Mason Jar BBQ Meal
Mason Jar Barbecue Meal from Giggles, Gobbles and Gulps

You’re saved!  Within a week the word is out and the place is filled with skinny young men with beards and chubby girls in lensless old-man glasses, and the fixies are stacked up outside like cord wood.

Look! OMG! There’s Lena Dunham!

We were wrong, Mason jars are here to stay, baby!

P.S et tu, Saveur?

P.P.S. If you like this sort of thing, please take the time to like An Eccentric Culinary History on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter. Thank you!

  1. This is hilarious. Until you pointed this out, I had no idea that mason jar salads were a thing. It’s so ridiculous.

  2. Aren’t they used just because they are easy to pack, so you can have your home-made salad at work/school/whatever? I’ve been living a lie?

    1. Apparently.

      A lidded plastic bowl would serve your purpose just as well, and maybe better.

        1. Yeah, but plastic never feels *clean* after you use it the first time. It takes, like, three washes so it doesn’t feel really greasy.

    2. Maybe–but they’re served in a jar in trendy restaurants these days. It drives me crazy. And, as mariner says below, a lidded plastic bowl (or box) would be a much easier way to pack and eat salad. And lighter to carry.

  3. I want people to stop using them at weddings. Along with burlap. Mason jars and burlap. Around here we call it “Pinterest Rustic”.

      1. Indeed. I find that a mason jar is the perfect transport and serving vessel for a very efficient distillation of corn. Wouldn’t put a salad or a taco in it though.

    1. I’ve put my corn in interesting and unmentionable places, but I draw the line at anything with a lid.

  4. Mason jars are great for making and mailing pound cake and brownies, though. Sent them to my son in Iraq and they were perfect.

  5. I keep one on my desk next to my personal coffee maker. Everyone thinks it’s filled with water for the Keurig. Heh, heh, heh….

  6. I’m a Southerner, born and bred by the grace of God.
    Mason jars are for canning, ice tea, drinking likker, and storing (some) leftovers in the fridge.
    They are not for serving food in.

  7. They have been serving drinks in Mason jars at Redbones in Davis Sq. Somerville, MA, for 26 years.

  8. Pinto beans, cornbread, buttermilk. Mash it all up in a quart size mason jar. I saw my daddy with this meal many times as a kid; he would always tell me stories about grandma while he scooped it up. We always had tea and lemonade in mason jars. We did not have hipster doofuses to tell us how cool mason jars were/used to be.

  9. HD, salad in a jar is a good thing if you’re packing lunches for school or work. To serve at the table or, even worse, a wedding? Not cute. This was hilarious, but it reminded me how annoyed I have always been by food trends (well, trends in general, really). I say, let’s all eat what we like, when we like, how we like–with no thought to whether it’s hip or not!

  10. I keep old fingers and toes in mason jars. Most of my collection is buried in my crawl space. The pieces most dear to me, are kept on a shrine in my man cave (yes, full of real men..)

  11. I can’t go anywhere that serves good beer in a jar. No way. I have made panna cotta in little jars…it was cute, but I’m over it especially after reading this!

  12. This is HIGH-LARIOUS!! You are my hero! I was just at the tragically “Marriottized” Algonquin Hotel in NYC–the playground of the great wits and geniuses of the 20th Century–where they are now serving their cocktails…IN FUCKING MASON JARS! As meemaw is my witness, I ordered a Jameson’s & soda ($23) and it came to me…in a ridiculous, generic Mason-TYPE jar….not even the real thing (don’t extra “heinousness” points get tacked-on for using FAKE Mason jars??)! This is like taking the wealthy dowager matriarch of your family…and shoving a corn-cob pipe in her mouth. I mean…what the fuck?

  13. Mason jars are good for hot alcoholic drinks, because they don’t go all splodey; and yet you can see your drink, unlike a mug. But no, I’d rather not have salad in a jar.

  14. Mason jar salads excel in one area: preservation. As long as you vacuum pack the jar, most salads stay fresh for over a week. It’s not for everyone, but if you have little time during the week to cook yet can make batches of these on weekends, you save a lot of time and end up with a healthy meal.

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