Sunshine Nostalgia

Tony Russo
2 min readNov 30, 2022

This is not just a cookie jar in a junk shop. It is a Sunshine Biscuit cookie jar in a junk shop in Red Bank, N.J.

I would die before I went “antiquing” but I sure love looking at junk. It is bizarre, horrifying and absolutely wonderful that mass-produced products increase in value.

I haven’t been to a junk shop since the apocalypse, but my wife and I renewed our Small Business Saturday tradition at the Antique Center of Red Bank this year and it was splendid.

Pyrex prices are down. Is it worse that it’s true or that I noticed? Like I’m following the price of future ancient pottery.

There’s an odd thrill that comes from marveling at the things people kept, the things they consider valuable (or at least believe other people will think are valuable).

But I wanted to tell you about the cookie jar.

My dad worked for Sunshine Biscuits and I remember going to work with him when I was very little, like four or five, and seeing the terrifying Sunshine Baker head glowering down at me.

As it turns out, the actual sign is a lot more terrifying than the cookie jar. The baker’s eyebrows are knit, like he’s disapproving of something. Or he’s just poisoned your cookies.

It’s the tiny eyes. His eyebrows are supposed to make him look gleeful, but the pinpoint eyes suggest malice.

The only good photo I can find is about halfway down the page here.

Looking now at photos of the Sunshine Baker, it’s clear I was mistaken. The cookie jar isn’t him. I didn’t buy the cookie jar. I wasn’t even tempted. But if I had bought it in a fit of nostalgia, I would have been disappointed.

That’s the reminder that almost always saves me in the junk shops. I remember I can’t buy the feeling of an old thing, even if I can buy the item itself.

Better to take a photo, show it to some friends who might get a kick out of it and move on.

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Tony Russo

Pencil-sharpening enthusiast, journalist, author of “Dragged Into the Light” https://amzn.to/3bLQ0Wi