METAMORA – Who doesn’t love cookies? And you have to store them someplace.
Eva Fuchs has adored cookie jars ever since her husband Paul’s dad gave the couple an Albert Apple container. Cookies for the kids were kept in Albert’s apple-shaped belly. Years later, “I still have” the sentimental favorite that began her quest for more.
Soon the owner of Grannie’s Cookie Jars and Ice Cream Parlor, 19041 Lovers Lane, had collected 2,653 receptacles. Fellow shopkeeper Steve Collier wondered if that wasn’t some kind of record.
Specifically, a Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Collection of Cookie Jars.
He asked Franklin County Commissioners Tom Wilson and Scott McDonough to help with the paperwork. “They had to count 2,653 cookie jars and convince themselves they were all different.” McDonough told close to 100 well-wishers on the shop’s patio May 17, “We probably spent two or three hours counting the jars,” which are displayed in a series of rooms on shelves two or three deep. “At the end of the day, it was quite a collection.”
Bill Smith, Gov. Mike Pence’s chief of staff, presented Fuchs with a framed Guinness World Record at the gathering. He reported, “Eva and I are cousins. It’s always a thrill to visit ... It’s not often in my official capacity I get to be with so many people I love.” He told Fuchs, “You have more paparazzi than Angelina Jolie!”
Fuchs thanked Collier for submitting the Guinness application and also her daughters, Janie Reynolds and Connie Ragle, for helping to operate the shop and her sons, John, Terry and Bill Fuchs, for renovating it. John Fuchs presented his mother with a bouquet of yellow roses, saying, “If I have a thousand of these, it probably wouldn’t be enough for all the people you’ve helped.” Ragle admitted, “It’s a lot of work” to keep the jars inventoried and sighed that the 3,000 or so duplicates “all have to be dusted yet!”
Then Smith presented Fuchs with a Distinguished Hoosier award signed by the governor, which stated that the honoree has made “significations contributions to the community” and “reflects the best of the state of Indiana.” According to Smith, “She is a lot more than someone who collects ... or serves up a dish of ice cream. She’s a special woman.”
What was served at the reception? Cookies, of course. Some were provided by the honoree, who baked “bunches of them, dozens!”
Fuchs reminisced that the first jar she ever bought was a McCoy lamb in the 1950s or 1960s. “McCoy is what they call the king of cookie jars. They made a whole lot ... in a short period of time.”
The 26-year Franklin County Community School Corp. bus driver mused, “I used to bake cookies all the time. My favorite was peanut butter cookies. Sometimes I put chocolate chips in them. Now that the kids are grown up, I don’t make them a whole lot.”
When her husband was injured in a car accident, “the doctor said, ‘Find something to do.’ We started flea marketing. We took stuff out of the house we weren’t using” and sold it. Fuchs noticed, “All my cookie jars sold.” A friend told her why: “‘You’re not charging enough.’” The merchant now has 13 cookie jar books that detail values. Fuchs reported, “I love going to auctions,” so they began hunting for jars in Cincinnati and Hamilton, Ohio, and Seymour and Columbus, Ind.
The Metamora native opened her shop in 1999 and moved to the current location two years ago. She always loved the historic building and its addition, constructed in 1844 and 1850. “When I grew up it was a hardware store, then The Lace Place.” The shop is called Grannie’s Cookie Jars and Ice Cream Parlor “because I had three of my grandkids live with me” for a while. Mulling over names as they were painting the business, “that’s what they wanted to call it.”
Her jars are priced from $20-$800. The Pillsbury Dough Boy is most popular. “It just seems to go no matter how many I get.” At $45, “it’s not the most expensive, but it’s not the cheapest either.” Hopalong Cassidy, which boasts real gold, is the one with the $800 price tag. Only 250 were manufactured in the 1990s.
The oldest jar, made in the late 1920s or early 1930s, depicts a stout man wearing aqua pants and an orange hat. Reynolds reports, “We call it ‘The Old Man,’” but the jar also is known as The Waiter or Amish Person. She explained, “Back then they didn’t mark them. Two different companies claimed it,” American Bisque Pottery, Williamstown, W.Va., and Robinson Ransbottom Pottery, Roseville, Ohio. A woman gave the “very ugly” jar to Fuchs when she moved away, saying, “‘I want you to have it. I know it will have a good home.’”
Her favorite is Roy Rogers and Trigger. “I had him years ago and then I sold him. It took me six years to find another. I hope to never get rid of him” unless someone makes her an offer she can’t refuse.
Fuchs, who relaxes by playing bingo in Rushville, offers advice to other fans: “If you start to collect ... (them), go get a cookie jar book so you know what you’re doing.”
She welcomes visitors at her store, which is open daily. “They don’t have to buy a cookie jar ... If they just want to come and look at them, that’s fine.”
After the formal presentation, Eva Fuchs said her feelings were “undescribable” upon receiving the awards. “I’m going to put them right here in my shop where everyone can see them!”