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The E-Z Seal is a lightening jar, a design which has a distinctive glass bubble lid or stopper clamped to the jar with a wire bail. The absence of a mold seam on the lip indicates the jar was finished by hand.
By grinding the lip of the glass until it was nearly flat (known as a 'square shoulder') and inserting a simple rubber gasket inside the lid, Mason achieved a sufficiently airtight seal, and his namesake was born.
Here's a sweet manu-vid (manufacturing video, for the uninitiated), which Ball has produced on the occasion of the 100th anniversary: The timing is auspicious, as there has been renewed interest in mason jars of late, both for their intended purpose of canning and otherwise.
A recent article in Creativity describes a perfect storm of circumstances: The recession fueled a resurgence in home canning and DIY projects while Americans' focus on healthy homemade and artisan foods made with fresh ingredients has been a boon for Ball.
How the revolutionary new threaded lid offered an alternative to pickling, drying and smoking as ways to preserve our precious aliments?
Yes, the mason jar certainly harkens back to a simpler time, before refrigerators and artificial preservatives, and now that we take those things for granted, canning has become something of a throwback jam (cue snare)—the vessel once dedicated to keeping and storing foodstuffs is now commonly used as a drinking glass or decorative object.
The Ball Corporation—which also provides funding for the eponymous state university—was among the companies that capitalized on Mason's invention when the patent expired.