There's plenty of room for the newfangled and the novel in this world, but in our kitchens, we most often turn to the stalwarts and 'ole standbys. In other words, the classics. Mason Cash is one of those iconic brands we're proud to carry in our Shop and keep on our countertops and in our cabinets. Originating in the UK, the Mason Cash name and their earthenware bowls have been sought after and beloved by home cooks everywhere for the last 200 years.
Mason Cash began in the English village of Church Gresley in the early 1800s, first under the name of Master Potter 'Bossy' Mason. In 1901, Thomas Cash purchased the pottery from Bossy, keeping the original name and combining with his own to form Mason Cash & Co.
Church Gresley was one of a collection of English villages at the epicenter of a flourishing pottery industry during the nineteenth century. Along with Swadlincote and Woodville, these villages gave rise to a community of potteries and artisans who were drawn to the region because of the plentiful, naturally occurring coal and clay.
Much of the pottery from those villages, including Mason Cash, is considered "yellowware" or "caneware", a specific type of earthenware typical to South Derbyshire and named after the yellowish hue of the local clay.
Josiah Wedgwood (founder of the famed porcelain and china company) was the first to develop caneware. In the 1790s, Wedgwood began mimicking the detailed bas-relief designs found on the crust of a game pie on the outside of their earthenware. Because of wheat shortages at the time, a result of trade disputes during the Napoleonic wars, the elaborate pastry crusts of game pies were considered a frivolous use of flour. Instead, the Wedgwood dishes recreated the designs on the outside of their vessels to maintain the decorative element, while the contents of the game pie could be baked inside without a crust.
Fast forward a couple hundred years, and you can see echoes of those intricate bas-reliefs on the first Mason Cash mixing bowl, designed and created in 1901. The design of the bowl has remained almost entirely unchanged since.
In 1941, Cash's son incorporated Mason Cash and branched out from kitchenware into a furrier direction. The company began making cat and dog bowls, a niche they happily filled. Dogs like Mason Cash, too!
The longevity of home cooks' romance with Mason Cash is due to its undeniable utility. Snuggle the mixing bowl firmly under the crook of your arm and the raised pattern acts as a grip while you whip your batters into submission. No slippery twisting and turning. The bowls will last a lifetime with nary a chip or color fade-out. Pop them in the microwave and dishwasher without worry (or handwash—it'll only take a few wipes thanks to the slick enamel).
If you need any more proof of Mason Cash's greatness, it's (really) in the pudding. Mason Cash bowls have lately been seen in the hands of the contestants on the Great British Bake Off, the friendliest reality competition show to ever be imported stateside. The Bake Off "tent" is stocked with bowls of all shapes and colors, lightweight enough for the bakers to whip around the kitchen as they race against the clock, but sturdy and just heavy enough to take a good beating.
Once you know what to look for, you'll start seeing Mason Cash pop up everywhere. If you enjoy throwback British cooking shows, the delightful Two Fat Ladies, which ran from 1996 to 1999, features the bowls at every turn:
Do you own any Mason Cash? Any other decades-old baking and kitchen brands you stand by?