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Jelly glasses are back!

Welch's has announced that its 10-ounce jars of jelly are now being produced in a dinosaur-decorated glass container which, when empty, can be used as an ordinary drinking glass.Do you remember the days when it was common for jelly to be sold in a reusable tumbler? And cheese spreads? And sour cream, too?

There was a time when many families never, ever bought a drinking glass - not an empty one, that is. They simply saved their jelly and sour-cream glasses and used them for soda or milk. If you wanted a nice, tall iced-tea glass, you bought the large-size sour cream.

But then the drinking-glass container disappeared.

"What happened," explains Dan Dillon, vice president for marketing at Welch's, "was a change in glass technology. The old mode of making glass, called full-press technology, became too expensive and was replaced by a new process, called press-and-blow technology. This new process produces a thinner glass."

Alas, it was found that this new glass sometimes chipped when the old-style lid was pried off. And no food company would risk having that happen. The sour cream people went off to plastic. The jelly people switched to screw-top jars - very safe, but certainly not usable as a drinking glass.

"In recent years, the only people offering decorated glasses as premiums have been the fast-food chains who required a purchase worth a few dollars," says Ben Miyares, executive editor of Food and Drug Packaging Magazine. "And sometimes the glasses they offered were plastic."

People who still had some of the old-fashioned jelly glasses discovered that what had once been viewed as cheap glassware was now viewed as a nostalgic collectible. Recently, a 1953 Welch's jelly glass featuring a picture of television's Howdy Doody was appraised at $20!

Dillon says Welch's was convinced that the desire for jelly glasses had never died and, for the past dozen years, searched for a means of bringing them back. The solution turned out to be a new type of plastic and metal lid that both vacuum seals the jelly and pops off with no danger of chipping the glass.

"We immediately made plans to go back into jelly glasses - and we decided to team them with the hottest rage today among little jelly eaters - dinosaurs."

Hence, the dishwasher-safe designs on the Welch's glasses are a tyrannosaurus rex (grape jelly), a pterodactyl (grape jam), a brontosaurus (strawberry jam) and a stegosaurus (raspberry-apple jam). They have begun to appear in area grocery stores.