Money & Business

Monday Buzz: Business Lessons from the Mason Jar

By / Aug 18, 2014 (Photodisc/Thinkstock)

How an old-school object made a comeback, even though the reasons for its popularity changed. Also: An experimental Twitter feature brings grumbles from power users.

Sometimes the business you start with isn’t the one you end up with.

Such is true of the Mason jar. The glass container with the metal lid has, in recent years, become an icon of Pinterest boards and hipster weddings. But it wasn’t always just a trendy decoration. A New York Times feature on the jars points out that their original popularity came out of sheer necessity—they offered a way to preserve foods long before the refrigerator was born.

“A hundred and fifty years ago, these jars meant survival,” Mason jar expert Douglas M. Leybourne Jr. told the Times. “You have a house full of people, and it’s wintertime. You couldn’t go down to the store—there wasn’t one.”

But when refrigeration and modern foodstuffs made the jars less necessary, they faded from view—until an aversion to processed foods started a movement toward fresh, home-grown creations made from items plucked from backyard gardens and farmers markets. Now the old-fashioned containers are so popular that they’ve made inroads with companies that don’t exactly exemplify health foods: Earlier this year, 7-Eleven began selling a plastic version of the jars for its Slurpees—complete, winkingly, with mustache straws.

Beyond being a teaching moment for the Portlandia audience, the comeback offers a good reminder that just as generations differ in their preferences, they may also differ in the items they embrace. Boomers and gen X-ers largely gave Mason jars a pass, but the changing tastes of millennials brought them back. Your product may not change, but your marketing may have to.

Not Worth Favoriting

Twitter tests all sorts of things, trying to see what proves successful with its users, as any social giant might.

But its latest experiment has a few haters. Essentially, the platform is inserting into some people’s timelines tweets that are “favorited” by those they follow. Some power users, like the investor Hunter Walk, see it as adding more noise to feeds that can already be pretty noisy.

Mashable‘s Christina Warren has more details on the test.

Other good reads

Trying to pull out all the stops in that job interview? The Muse‘s Lily Zhang offers some suggestions on how to make a statement by asking a bold question.

Is Internet Explorer’s brand so damaged that Microsoft might have to ditch the name? It’s a discussion that’s come up, say company insiders.

According to community engagement manager Kristina Leroux, Gmail’s ability to allow users to unsubscribe from emails can actually be good for marketers. Here’s why.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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