Ceramic Jar with Cork Containing Plastic Y2K Bugs

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This turquoise and gray jar has a cork lid. It contains eighteen colorful plastic bugs.
Donor Jan Lilja received the jar as a gift from a colleague at the time she was the Y2K Executive at the Food and Nutrition Service, an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Food and Nutrition Service administers the nation's nuitrition programs such as food stamps (now called SNAP), WIC, and school lunch and breakfast programs. Because most of these programs are administered through through the states, territories and local governments, Lilja was also held personally responsible for preventing computer software problems in nutrition programs at these entities when dates changed from 1999 to 2000. To recognize the hard work done, the U.S. government created Y2K medals. She requested about 100 of these for individuals within FNS and arranged an awards ceremony. When the medals did not arrive in time for the ceremony, she purchased plastic bugs to put in the ceramic jar. Rather than receiving a medal, awardees received a bug and a paper certificate (for such a certificate, see 2016.3118.01). These bugs were far more widely displayed than the medals that eventually for arrived (for such a medal, see 2016.0138.02).
She distributed the bugs as rewards to those working on the project.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 2000
ca 1999
Physical Description
ceramic (jar material)
cork (lid material)
plastic (bugs material)
overall: 13 cm x 13 cm x 13 cm; 5 1/8 in x 5 1/8 in x 5 1/8 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Jan Lilja
Computer Bug
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Computers
Computers & Business Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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