Old fashioned biscuit tins
Food Timeline: cookies, crackers & biscuits .....Have questions? Ask!
What's the difference between biscuits & cookies?
Excellent question! The answer is an interesting buffet of linguistics, history, and technology. The original term "biscuit" derives from the Latin "bis coctus," or "twice baked." Ancient Roman armies were issued biscuits as part of their rations. hardtack & ship's biscuit, rusk, mandelbrot and zweiback all descend from this culinary lineage. Advances in technology permitted a wider range of biscuit products. Small cakes and delicate wafers were gradually added to the family of biscuits. In most English-speaking countries, the traditional definition of biscuit remains. In the United States the term "biscuit" was reassigned to denote a small, soft, quick-leavened bread product served piping hot. It generally accompanied meals in lieu of bread. About American biscuits.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term "biscuit" debuted in the 14th century. Primary definition here:
"Biscuit: 1. a. A kind of crisp dry bread more or less hard, prepared generally in thin flat cakes. The essential ingredients are flour and water, or milk, without leaven; but confectionery and fancy biscuits are very variously composed and flavoured. Even the characteristic of hardness implied in the name is lost in the sense ‘A kind of small, baked cake, usually fermented, made of flour, milk, etc.’ used, according to Webster, in U.S."
The OED states "cookie" was introduced to the Engish language during the 18th century via the Dutch:
"Cookie: 1. a. In Scotland the usual name for a baker's plain bun; in U.S. usually a small flat sweet cake (a biscuit in U.K.), but locally a name for small cakes of various form with or without sweetening. Also S. Afr. and Canad."
Why do we Americans choose "cookies" over "biscuits?"
The answer to this is probably twofold: (1) Our early Dutch heritage and (2) Our revolutionary tradition of separating ourselves from "all things British."
"Early English and Dutch immigrants first introduced the cookie to America in the 1600s. While the English primarily referred to cookies as small cakes, seed biscuits, or tea cakes, or by specific names, such as jumbal or macaroon, the Dutch called the koekjes, a diminutive of koek (cake)...Etymologists note that by the early 1700s, koekje had been Anglicized into "cookie" or "cookey," and the word clearly had become part of the American vernacular. Following the American Revolution, people from other parts of the country became familiar with the cookie when visiting New York City, the nation's first capitol, a factor that resulted in widespread use of the term."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 317)
A little bit of cookie history
The book Cookies and Crackers, Time/Life Books, 1982 (page 5) provides a history of cookies that is perfect for elementary gourmets:
"The art of making cookies and crackers is that of turning simple ingredients into wonderful things....Like cakes and pastries, cookies and crackers are the descendants of the earliest food cooked by man-- -grain-water-paste baked on hot stones by Neolithic farmers 10,000 years ago. The development of cookies and crackers from these primitive beginnings is a history of refinements inspired by two different impulses--one plan and practical, the other luxurious and pleasure-loving. Savory crackers represent the practical and may well have been the first convenience foods: A flour paste, cooked once, then cooked again to dry it thoroughly, becomes a hard, portable victual with an extraordinarily long storage life--perfect for traveling....For centuries, no ship left port without enough bone-hard, twice-cooked ship's biscuit--the word biscuit comes from the Old French biscoit, meaning twice cooked---to last for months, or even years. While sailors and other travelers chewed their way through unyielding biscuits, cooks of the ancient civilizations of the Middle East explored the culinary possibilities of sweetness and richness. These cooks lightened and enriched the paste mixtures with eggs, butter and cream and sweetened them with fruit, honey and finally--when the food became widely available in the late Middle Ages--with sugar... Luxurious cakes and pastries in large and small versions were well known in the Persian empire of the Seventh Century A.D. With the Muslim invasion of Spain, then the Crusades and the developing spice trade, the cooking techniques and ingredients of Arabia spread into Northern Europe. There the word cookies, distinguishing small confections, appeared: The word comes from the Dutch Koeptje [koekje], meaning small cake. By the end of the 14th Century, one could buy little filled wafers on the streets of Paris...Renaissance cookbooks were rich in cookie recipes, and by the 17th Century, cookies were common-place."
"The term [cookie] first appeared in print as long ago as 1703."
---The Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] (page 212).
"During the seventeeth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries most cookies were made in home kitchens. They were baked as special treats because the cost of sweeteners and the amount of time and labor required for preparation. The most popular of these early cookies still retain their prize status. Recipes for jumbles, a spiced butter cookie, and for macaroons, based on beaten egg whites and almonds, were common in the earliest American cookbooks...Because it was relatively inexpensive and easy to make, gingergbread was one of the most popular early cookies...As kitchen technology improved in the early 1900s, most notably in the ability to regulate oven temperature, America's repertoire of cookie recipes grew."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 317-8)
When were commercial cookies introduced?
"Leavened crackers had been made as early as 1800, but not until compressed yeast became available about 1870 their production was not attempted on a large scale. Sweet biscuits had previously been imported from England. When such sweets achieved a measure of popularity in this country, Belcher and Larrabee, cracker bakers in Albany, New York, imported machinery and methods for baking them shortly after the Civil War. The change in the demand for biscuit and cracker output was clearly a shift from staple to 'luxury' products. Unlike the demand for bread, there was little opportunity for cracker bakers to benefit form a home to factory movement. But like the expanded demand for food in general, the boom for the cracker industry was made possible by increased incomes and the willingness of people to add new foods to their changing diets."
---Baking in America: Economic Development, William G. Panschar, Volume 1 [Northwestern University Press:Evanston IL] 1956 (p. 54)
"After the Civil War, when the so-called 'traveling' market for biscuits and crackers began to decline, the industry adjusted itself to the new conditions by importing the machinery and methods for making English sweetened biscuits and yeast-raised crackers. In addition, during the late 1890s the National Biscuit Company introduced wrapping and packaging machines for cracker products, which were quickly adopted by other industry members."
--ibid (p. 67)
ABOUT COMMERCIAL SUGAR WAFERS IN NORTH AMERICA First came UK imports:
"Peek Frean & Co. Sugar Wafers."
---display ad, Fitchburg Sentinel [MA] January 11, 1878 (p. 3) [No price or product description]
"Mssrs. Carr & Co....manufacture between 150 and 200 different classes of cakes and biscuits. The 'arrowroots' are one of the oldest, and in these the business is enormous. For upwards of thirty years, also, the firm have had a reputation for soda biscuits. To mention ...in any kind of detail all the other varieties would be impossible...a glance only at one of their price lists is sufficient...[selected biscuits named including sugar wafers]...Of these latter [sugar biscuits] it may be said that that they are a very luxury in biscuit food; as their names imply, so like wafers that they are, they seem to melt almost the moment they are flavored with vanilla, rose, or lemon, as ma be desired. The manipulation (mechanical, not handwork) required to get these biscuits to perfection is so delicate, ingenious, and 'indescribable.' that it must be seen to be fully appreciated."
---"Carr & Co The Original Biscuit Manufacturers," The British Mail [London]. December 1, 1879 (p. 45-46)
"Homes and Court's celebrated biscuits...Sugar Wafers (assorted flavors), 30 cents a box."
---Newport Mercury [RI], July 26, 1884 (p. 5)
Then American companies entered the market:
Advertisement placed in Daily Tribune [Salt Lake City UT] November 19, 1890 offers several wafer biscuits made by the Massachusetts based Kennedy Biscuit Company. Wafer biscuit flavors are: Princess, Vanilla, Lemon, Oatmeal, Graham, Fairy, and Sugar. Kennedy was soon to be absorbed by the National Biscuit Company (aka NBC, Nabisco). Fact this east coast company's products were available in American interior west illustrates both national market penetration and brand recognition. Our survey of historic newspapers confirm Kennedy's ads were placed in local newspapers throughout the country by 1900 (NewspaperArchive.com).
If you are doing a "cookies around the world" project ask your librarian to help you find The International Cookie Jar Cookbook, Anita Borghese.
According to the food history reference books, "Ammonia" cookies are not one specific cookie recipe but a whole host of edible treats employing ammonium bicarbonate, an old-fashioned (probably now hard to get?) leavening agent. Ammonium carbonate is a byproduct of hartshorn, a substance extracted from deer antlers [harts horn]. Hartshorn is most commonly referenced in old cookbooks in jelly recipes. It was also known a source for ammonia, which could be used as a leavener.
"Hartshorn...1. The horn or antler of a hart [male deer, esp. Red deer] the substance obtained by rasping, slicing or calcining the horns of harts, formerly the chief sources of ammonia. 2. Spirit of hartshorn, also simply hartshoren; the aqueous solution of ammonia (whether obtained from harts' horns or otherwise). Salt of hartshorn, carbonate of ammonia; smelling salt."
---Oxford English Dictionary
Historic English definitions & sources:
HARTS-HORN, 205. Shavings of the antlers of a stag or hart were the source of a jelly. Nott (1726) is among the authors who explain how to make it. (Robert May, 1660/1685)
HARTS-HORN: deerhorn, used as a source of gelatine. (Sir Kenelm Digby, 1669)
HARTSHORN: the shavings of a stag’s antlers were used to set a jelly. In Receipt 194 it is combined with isinglass (see below), a material that eventually superseded hartshorn in most cookery operations. (John Evelyn, Cook, C17)
HARTSHORN: See H 22. The receipt is self-explanatory. (John Nott, 1726)
HARTSHORN: a hart’s horn or antler, used as a source of gelatin. Pierre Pomet says that many remedies were prepared from hartshorn and mentions that hartshorn jelly was good against fainting and swooning fits, heartburn, convulsions, falling sickness, hysterical fits, and worms. (See volume II, p. 257.) (Richard Bradley, 1736)
HARTSHORN, HARTSHORN-JELLY. Hartshorn was formerly the main source of ammonia, and its principal use was in the production of smelling salts. But hartshorn shavings were used, in a different operation, to produce a special and edible jelly. In her recipe for a ‘Hedge-Hog’, 85, Hannah Glasse assumes that the reader will know how to make this. A full recipe is given by Nott (1726), and earlier authors.(Glasse, 1747)
HARTSHORN is deerhorn, used as a source of gelatine. (William Ellis, 1750)
---Source: Prospect Books
"Hartshorn was formerly the main source of ammonia, and its principal use was in the production of smelling salts. But hartshorn shavings were used to produce a special, edible jelly used in English cookery in the 17th and 18th centuries."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] (p. 372)
"Ammonium bicarbonate...This leavener is the precursor of today's baking powder and baking soda. It's still called for in some European baking recipes, mainly for cookies. It can be purchased in drugstores but must be ground to a powder before using. Also known as hartshorn, carbonate of ammonia and powdered baking ammonia."
---Food Lover's Companion, Sharon Tyler Herbst, 3rd edition [Barrons:New York] 2001 (p. 14)
"Ammonia cookies...Any variety of cookies made with a leavening agent called ammonium carbonate, or baking ammonia. They are most commonly found in Scandinavian-American communities In their book Farm Recipes and Food Secrets from the Norske Nook (1993), Helen Myhre and Mona Vold wrote, "Talk about Old Faithful, this was one of those basic stanbys every farm lady made."
---Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 6)
"Ammonia, is a gas and its ordinary form of Spirits of Ammonia, or Hartshorn, is water saturated with the gas. Ammonia is sometimes used in Baking Powders, but being extremely volatile must soon lose its strength."
---Grocers' Hand-Book and Directory for 1886, compiled by Artemas Ward, published by The Philadelphia Grocer Publishing Co. (p. 13)
The greatest challenge for modern cooks recreating "old fashioned" ammonia cookies is the amount of this item is often expressed in non-traditional terms. Recipes specifying a "lump" or "5 cents worth of ammonia" are not uncommon. Since baking is chemistry and prices fluxuate according to period & place, one needs to research these particular recipes in historic context.
Rub to a cream three-quarters of a cup of butter and one cup of sugar; add four eggs, one at a time, and the grated peel of a lemon. Then dissolve a lump of ammonia, about the size of a bean, in a quarter of a pound of lukewarm milk; add this and just enough sifted flour to enable you to roll out on the baking-board. Roll quite thin. Beat up an egg and brush over the cookies, sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and pounded almonds. These are very nice. Be careful not to add too much flour. Omit the almonds if you are not fond of them."
---Aunt Babette's Cook Book
"Old Fashioned Hamburger Cookies
Take one pound of butter, one pound of sugar, yolks of six eggs, hard-boiled, and flour enough to make a dough that is not too stiff. Dissolve three cents worth of ammonia (hartshorn) in scalded milk. Place the ammonia in a large bowl and pour one cup of scalding milk over it. After this has cooled add it to the dough with one-half cup of cold milk. Flavor to taste. Flour the pans and the cookie dough. Roll and proceed as with sugar cookies."
---Intenational Jewish Cookbook, Florence Kreisler Greenbaum
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup lard
1/2 cup butter (or substitute vegetables shortening for lard and butter)
3 egg yolks
1 cups flour
1 tsp. dry ammonia
pinch of salt
Cream sugar and shortening: add yolks and stir well. Add flour and ammonia; roll dough in hands to size of walnut; bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) oven."
---"Mrs. Bert Vium: Presented as 'Original' Cook of the Week,' Racine Sunday Bulletin [Racine WI], May 22, 1955 (p. 29)
A sampler of historic American ammonia recipes (run separate ingredient searches for ammonia & hartshorn)
Food historians generally agree the art of crafting small baked goods into fancy shapes began as a Christmas tradition in Medieval Germany. Lebkuchen (gingerbread) was a highly sophisticated art. The legal right to make these products was carefully protected by Guilds. They were sometimes used as Christmas decorations.
By the middle of the 19th century the industrial revolution made it possible for biscuits, cookies and crackers to be manufactured in factories. Crisp biscuits (what we Americans now call cookies) baked in fancy shapes were very popular in Victorian England. Some of these biscuits were shaped like animals. "Zoologicals" (animal crackers) were sold at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia . They were made by Philadelphia baker Walter G. Wilson. According to a recent Washington Post article, in 1889 when P.T. Barnum's circus travelled to England, animal cookies proliferated. Food companies were most likely capitalizing on Barnum's popular entertainment. Animal Crackers manufactured at that time were probably designed as a marketing promotions. Shirley Temple's Animal Crackers in my soup (1935) remains an iconic American song through the 21st century.
The earliest mention of animal crackers we have in print is this recipe from 1883:
Animals or Menagerie
1 bbl flour, 40 lbs sugar, 16 lard, 12 oz soda, 8 ozs ammonia, 6 3/4 gals milk."
---Secrets of the Bakers and Confectioners' Trade, J. D. Hounihan [self-published:Staunton VA] April 1, 1883 (p. 96)
[NOTE: this is professional cooking text. It does not offer any instructions regarding the shaping of these cookies. The author offers this interesting preface note on p. 89: "The following recipes are from threee of the best workmen in the business. One of them is at New York, another at Philadelphia and the third at Cambridge, Mass. They are all employed in the best bakeries in their respective localities, and I have their sworn affidavit that they are the recipes they are now working with, and the best known to them...I am not at liberty to give the names of the parties I have the recipes from, for reasons best known to myself and the parties"]
National Biscuit Company's (now Nabisco) classic Animal Crackers were introduced to the American public in 1902. According to Nabisco sources, the first Animal Crackers were marketed as a seasonal item. The brighly-colored box (not the cookies) was promoted as a Christmas tree ornament, thus explaining the string attached to the top.
Although Animal biscuits/crackers are a very simple cookie we find no evidence they were created/promoted as health foods. 19th century cookie-type health products often contained arrowroot and Graham's flour (whole wheat). They were not generally marketed in fancy shapes.
This is what the food historians have to say on the subject:
"During the 19th century supplies of cheap sugar and flour, plus chemical raising agents such as bicarbonate of soda, led to the development of many sweet biscuit recipes. In Britain several entrepreneurs laid the foundations of the modern biscuit industry. The firms of Carrs, Huntley & Palmer, and Crawfords were all established by 1850. Since the mid 19th century the range of commercially baked biscuits based on creamed and pastry type mixtures has expanded to meet the demand..."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 76)
"Animal Crackers are actually a cookie, first produced as Christmas tree ornaments in 1902 by the National Biscuit Company (now Nabisco). They are formed in the shapes of various circus animals and packed in a box decorated like a circus train. Nabisco currently produces about 7 million Animal Cracker cookies per day."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 104)
"Animal crackers were created and achieved fame many years before the advent ot NBC (National Biscuit Company). In the beginning they were just called "Animals," They were imported from England when "fancy" baked goods first began to be in demand here. In the latter part of the nineteenth century they were manufactured domestically by Hetfield & Ducker in Brooklyn as well as Vandeveer & Holmes Biscuit Company in New York. Both firms eventually became part of the New York Biscuit Company and "Animals" were one of their staples. When "Animals" were adopted by NBC, their name was changed to "Barnum's Animal Crackers," named after P.T. Barnum, showman and circus owner who was so famous during this era. Barnum's Animal Crackers provided the nation with a new type of animal cracker, produced in a small square box resembling a circus cage with a tape at the top for easy carrying. Barnum's Animals appeared during Christmas season just three years after the Uneeda Biscuit. What was originally a seasonal novelty proved so popular that it became a steady seller. Soon Animal (the 's' was dropped) Crackers became part of the American scene and of almost every American household."
---Out of the Cracker Barrel:From Animal Crackers to ZuZus, William Cahn [Simon & Schuster:New York] 1969 (p. 106-7)
"P.T. Barnum, the greatest self-promoter in history, had absolutely nothing to do with the box that bears his name. And never got a cent for it. That's according to our man Fisher of the Barnum Museum. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus still doesn't get a cut, or a licensing fee. This is what happened: In 1889, Barnum decided to do something truly nutty, a tour of England with his circus. So after his buddy Bailey figured out how, exactly, you get a circus that normally takes up 10 rail cars onto a boat and across an ocean, Barnum's animals made their European debut. The English, meanwhile, had already invented something called animal biscuits. Sensing a marketing moment, several companies started manufacturing animal biscuits with circus packaging and called them Barnum's. Soon the product migrated across the ocean, where Nabisco's forerunner, the National Biscuit Co., put them on U.S. store shelves in 1902. Originally called "Barnum's Animals,'' they became Barnum's "Animal Crackers'' in 1948." ---"Circus food," Jennifer Frey, Washington Post, March 20, 2002
How much did these cost?
 4 cents (no size)
 15 cents (2 packages, no size)
 29 cents (3 packages, no size)
 10 cents (2 oz pkg)
 10 cents (2 oz pkg)
 33 cents (2 oz pkg)
 45 cents (2 oz pkg)
Who designed this special package?
"Sydney S. Stern, designer of the original Ritz Crackers, Shredded Wheat and Animal Crackers boxes...was trained as an artist, joined the National Biscuit Company in 1923 and spent much of his life desining its cartons and wrappers. His design for Nabisco's Animal Crackers including caged lions, tigers and bears, replaced the original 1902 packaging and has changed only slightly over the years...Mr. Stern, who began painting in water colors as a child, studied at the Art Students League, Columbia University and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He won recognition for his work as a painter, a photographer and a set designer."
---"S.S. Stern, 99; Designed Ritz Crackers Box," [obituary], New York Times, June 15, 1989 (p. D24)
[NOTE: We do not know who designed the original 1902 box. Yet.]
"Animal Crackers in my Soup"
This popular Shirley Temple song was introduced in the movie Curly Top, 1935.
"Animal Crackers in my Soup" (from the film Curly Top, 1935)
Animal crackers in my soup, Monkeys & rabbits, loop da loop
Gosh, oh gee, but I have fun, Swallowing animals one by one.
In every bowl of soup I see, Lions & tigers watching me.
I make 'em jump right through a hoop, Those animal crackers in my soup.
When I get hold of the big bad wolf, I just push him under the zebra hoof,
Then I bite him in a million bits And I gobble him right down.
Temple, Shirley (composer Ray Henderson; lyricists Irving Caesar and Ted Koehler)
Did Shirley Temple really put animal crackers in her soup?
"Though she cheerfully sang that song in her 1935 movie 'Curly Top,' Shirley Temple really didn't put animal crackers in her soup. 'Shirley knows the crackers are too sweet for that, She knows the combination would taste terrible,' her father announced at the time. 'Shirley saves the animal crackers for after dinner.' George Temple wasn't doing a commercial. He merely was trying to make good with thousands of parents across the country who had written to him complaining that their kids wanted to pour animal crackers into their soup after seeing 'Curly Top.'" ---"75 Years Later, Cagey Animal Crackers are Still Capturing the Fancy of Children," Joan Zyda, Chicago Tribune, April 25, 1977 (p. B3) [NOTE: We do not have the original source of Ms. Temple's quote.]
Nabisco food history sources generally tell us Animal Crackers have been a stable product since they were introduced in 1902. While the product is not overly sweet (compared to Oreos, for example), it does have a sweetish flavor, not particularly suited for pairing with soup. Of course, there are many types of soup, including chilled fruit soups served for the dessert popular in Scandinavian countries. We don't think that was the kind of soup 6 year old "American as apple pie" Shirley Temple as singing about in 1935.
There are several theories regarding the origin of the name "A.P." for a particular cookie popular in the Philadelphia/Pennsylvania Dutch country. These food historians sums them up nicely:
"Apee. Also "apea" and, in the plural "eepies." A spiced butter cookie or form of gingerbread. Legend has it that the word derives from the name of Ann Page, a Philadelphia cook who carved her initials into the tops of the confection. This was first noted in print in J.F. Watson's Annals of Philadelphia (1830) to the effect that Ann Page, then still alive, "first made [the cookies] many years ago, under the common name of cakes.'"
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 6-7)
"Apeas are a cookie once popular in Philadelphia. The origin of the name is a bit confusing. Essentially, they were a form of Anis Platchen (anise cookies) and stamped A.P. to distinguish them from cookies with carraway, which were known as "seed cakes." A great many bakers hawked Apeas to children on the streets. One of those bakers in Philadelphia was Ann Page. The A.P. became associated with her name, if only because Anis Platchen were extremely popular. In any event, A.P. cookies are of German origin. Philadelphians called them Apeas, hence the peculiar name, but to call them anything else--such as Chocolate Apeas, only further muddles the issue."
---The Christmas Cook: Three Centuries of American Yuletide Sweets, William Woys Weaver [Harper Perennial:New York] 1990 (p. 143)
[NOTE: this book includes a recipe from Maria Parloa's Choice Recipes, 1904 which does not list anise as one of the ingredients.]
A survey of historic American recipes
A pound of flour, sifted.
Half a pound of butter.
A glass of wine, and a tablespoonful of rose-water, mixed.
Half a pound of powdered white sugar.
A nutmeg, grated.
A tea-spoonful of beaten cinnamon and mace.
Three table-spoonfuls of carraway seeds.
Sift the flour into a broad pan, and cut up the butter in it. Add the carraways, sugar, and spice, and pour in the liquor by degrees, mixing it well with a knife. If the liquor is not sufficient to wet it thoroughly, add enough of cold water to make it a stiff dough. Spread some flour on your paste-board, take out the dough, and knead it very well with your hands. Put it into small pieces, and knead each separately, then put them all together, and knead the whole in one lump. Roll it out in a sheet about a quarter if an inch thick. Cut it out in round cakes, with the edge of a tumbler, or a tin of that size. Butter an iron pan, and lay the cakes in it, not too close together. Bake them a few minutes in a moderate oven, till they are very slightly coloured, but not brown. If too much baked, they will entirely lose their flavor. Do not roll them out too thin."
---Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats, by a Lady of Philadelphia [Eliza Leslie], facsimile reprint of 1828 edition published by Munroe and Francis: Boston [Applewood Books:Chester Ct] (p. 56-7)
"Apees.--Rub a pound of fresh butter into two pounds of sifted flour, and mix in a pound of powdered white sugar, a grated nutmeg, a table-spoonful of powdered cinnamon, and four large table-spoonfuls of carraway seeds. Add a wine glass of rose water, and mix the whole with sufficient cold water to make it a stiff dough. Roll it out into a large sheet about a third of an inch in thickness, and cut it into round cakes with a tin cutter or with the edge of a tumbler. Lay them in buttered pans, and bake them in a quick oven, (rather hotter at the bottom than at the top,) till they are of a very pale brown."
---Directions fo Cookery in its Various Branches, Miss Leslie [Carey & Hart:Philadelphia] 1849 (p. 354)
One pound and a half of flour, one pound of sugar, one pound of butter, one gill of milk; rub the butter, sugar and flour together; add the milk; stir the mixture with a knife or spoon into the dough; turn it out, and work it until it becomes perfectly smooth; roll it into thin sheets, cut with a small cutter, place on tins, and bake them in a cool oven. It will take a few minutes to knead all the ingredents into a dough, but, as the quantity of milk is quite sufficient, it would spoil them to add more."
---Mrs. Porter's New Southern Cookery Book, Mrs. M.E. Porter, facsimile reprint of 1871 edition with introduction and suggested recipes by Louis Szathmary [Promontory Press:New York] 1974 (p. 267)
"Apees (Ice Cream and Cakes)
1 pound of butter
1 1/2 pounds of flour
1 pound of sugar
1 gill of milk
Cream the butter and sugar; sift in the flour, then the milk, and stir it to a dough; turn it out on the moulding-board, and work to a fine dough again. Roll into sheets, as thick as a dollar piece, cut into small cakes, lay them on tins, and bake in a cool oven."
---Mrs. Rorer's Philadelphia Cook Book, Mrs. S.T. Rorer [Arnold and Company:Philadelphia] 1886 (p. 496-7)
Cream half a pound of butter and the same of sugar, add a wine-glass and a half of cold water, ten drops of essence of lemon, a few caraway seeds, and one pound of flour; foll out as thin as paper, and bake on buttered tins."
---The Economical Cook Book, Mrs. Sara T. Paul [John C. Winston:Chicago] 1905 (p. 247)
Educator brand crackers were produced in Boston from 1885 through the 1980s. They were a direct early competitor to the National Biscuit Company (aka Nabisco). Through the years, the company has undergone several reoganizations, mergers, and name changes. The registrations for both manufacturers and trademarks have expired. The brand is no longer in production.
"Let's go back to the days of clipper ships when iron men from New England sailed wooden ships to far off corners of the globe...One of the foods used was 'ship's bread,' a dehydrated wheat product conceived by a New England baker made from flour, salt and water. To satisfy this need for ship's bread, and other cracker products, many small bakeries sprang up along the Eastern seaboard. Massachusetts can claim credit for being the mother of the biscuit and cracker industry in the United States, as within her borders were located the three bakeries, one of them being Butler's bakery at Newburyport, founded in 1791. This was operated by its original owner and his heirs until the plant was sold in 1891 to the Johnson Educator company, just 100 years after that business was founded. Dr. William L. Johnson, a practicing dentist, concluded that his patient's teeth were in poor condition because most diets consisted of white flour products and other soft foods. Dr. Johnson decided that a cracker made from whole wheat which had to be thoroughly masticated, would be much more beneficial to his patients' dental health. After extensive experimentation, he was able to make a satisfactory whole wheat cracker. He called his new cracker Educator, as he knew only too well that changing the dietary habits of people required a lot of food education. In addition to being benefitted by Educator crackers, many people liked their taste and before long, the good doctor had the nucleus of a biscuit business. he opened the first Johnson Educator food store on Boylston street in Boston, May 15, 1885. His business thrived; other health-giving foods such a cereal, coffee, maize meal, hominy, peanut butter and grape juice were sold. He made arrangements for Butler's Bakery in Newburyport to manufacture his products for him. After Dr. Johnson's death, the business was carried on by his daughter, Norma Johnson Barbour. In 1934, demand for Educator products increased to such a degree that additional capacity was installed in a large brick building located in Lowell which is the headquarters of his company today. In June 1937, Robert Lee Megowen became interested in the company and changed the name to Megowen Educator Food company. Possibly the greatest contribution made by Megowen Educator food company was the introduction of small packages of cookies wrapped in cellophane. After Mr. Megowen's death in 1954, the business was carried on by his on, William J. Megowen. In March 1962, Megowen- Educator food company was sold. In June 1962 the name was changed to Educator Biscuit Company, incorporated."
---"Women Play Major Roles in City's Industries," Lowell Sunday Sun [MA], November 10, 1963 (p. 26)
"A syndicate of New York and Boston bankers has purchased 30,000 shares of the new Johnson Educator Biscuit Co...The Johnson Educator Food Co., to succeed which Johnson Educator Biscuit Co. is being organized, was incorporated in 1902 in Massachusetts. The company produces about 140 varieties of crackers."
---"Johnson Educator Food Co. Financing," Wall Street Journal, June 25, 1923 (p. 10)
"The Johnson Educator Biscuit Company of Cambridge, holding company of the Johnson Educator Food Company, petitioned in Federal District Curt for a reorganization under Section 77b of the Bankruptcy Act."
---"Files Bankruptcy Plea, Johnson Educator Biscuit Plans a Reorganization," New York Times, January 12, 1937
"Through the consolidation of Star Biscuits of America, Johnson Educator Biscuit Co. and the Johnson Educator Food Co. a new biscuit group is being organized by Chicago and New England capital. The new company will serve the New England territory. Directors of the companies have approved a plan of reorganization which has been built around the Star Biscuit Co., of America, with which Johnson Educator has had contracts for the major portion of its output."
---"New Biscuit Group Formed For New England Area," Wall Street Journal, January 18, 1937 (p. 4)
"One of the most famous brand names in New England, Educator cookies are back in the area, according to Robert M. Brodsky, president of the new Educator Co. Inc, of Lawrence, after an absence of two years. Plans have been completed to re-introduce the name to supermarkets with particular emphasis on the best-known brand names-- Crax, Beer Chasers, Sea Pilots, Noel Cookies and others. An additional line of high-priced cookies has been developed. Bay View Food Products, Inc., Lawrence will be the distributor, founded in 1939 by Brodsky. The Educator name goes back to the late 18th Century New England."
---"Back Again," Lowell Sun [MA] January 22, 1976 (p. 22)
The Massachusetts Corporation database reports The Educator Biscuit Company as being registered June 3, 1937; involuntary dissolution July 7, 1980 SOURCE: Massachusetts Corporations database
Bay View Food Products was registered September 13, 1939, involuntary dissolution December 31, 1990 SOURCE: Massachusetts Corporations database
The last registration/listing in the US Patent and Trademark Office was held by the McKesson Corporation. It was canceled May 19, 2001. Both the manufacturer and the brand ended:
"Word Mark EDUCATOR Goods and Services (CANCELLED) IC 030. US 046. G & S: CRACKERS, BISCUITS AND COOKIES. FIRST USE: 19630411. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19630411 Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING Serial Number 73831731 Filing Date October 16, 1989 Current Filing Basis 1A Original Filing Basis 1A Published for Opposition February 13, 1990 Registration Number 1595624 Registration Date May 8, 1990 Owner (REGISTRANT) MCKESSON CORPORATION CORPORATION MARYLAND ONE POST STREET SAN FRANSCISCO CALIFORNIA 94104 (LAST LISTED OWNER) MCKESSON CORPORATION CORPORATION BY CHANGE OF NAME FROM DELAWARE ONE POST STREET SAN FRANCISCO CALIFORNIA 94104 Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED Type of Mark TRADEMARK Register PRINCIPAL Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR). Live/Dead Indicator DEAD Cancellation Date May 19, 2001"
A selective survey of historic newspaper ads reveals several varieties:
Mrs. Rorer's New Cook Book, Sarah Tyson Rorer  includes "Educators" in one of her menus for "simple dinners." Mrs. Rorer was a well known home economist, cooking teacher, and author who was devoted to healthy meals and proper nutrition. The entire menu includes: clear soup, broiled steak, mushroom sauce, stuffed potatoes, spinach, chicory salad, educators, cream cheese, coffee, almonds and mint wafers. (p. 665) She does not include a recipe or notes for educators. Perhaps this implies her audience would have understood what they were and where to buy them.
November 16, 1913
"Johnson's Educator Crackers...reg. 10 cents, sale 8 cents: Toasterettes, Wafers, Luncheon, Graham, Animal, Ginger."
May 13, 1917
October 7, 1917
"Educator" choices: Sweet Graham, Butter Thins, Ginger Snaps, Luncheon Biscuits, Kremex, Demitasse. They were selling for .08/pkg or .90/dozen.
August 25, 1918
"A sale or Educator Corn Meal Crackers. They are rich in nature's energy producing material. Food experts urge the use of more Corn Meal Products because of their great food value. 10-oz. cartons, this sale, 22c each. Educator Wheatless Crackers, made of the purest ingredients. A good, tasty cracker, not too sweet. Large carton, containing 12 oz., this sale, 29c each." [NOTE: "Wheatless Wednesdays" were declared by Hoover in 1918 to save food for the WWI troops:
October 31, 1920
Sugarland, Gingerland, Raisinland, Lassesland, Chocolateland and Coconutland in "big" packages (no count/weight provided) , 35 cents/pkg. "
July 24, 1924
"Toasterettes, Fig bars, Butter thins, and Graham crackers. .09/carton or .06/dozen. These items were being sold in prominent New York City department stores (Macy's, Bloomingdale's)"
June 30, 1938
"Educator Crackers, Crax, .15/lb pkg."
December 22, 1953
March 31, 1965
"Educator Ice Box Cookies, .29/10 oz pkg."
August 18, 1965
"Educator Crackers. You've seen the name....you'll taste the quality. 8 3/4 and 9 3/4 ounce boxes from the educator biscuit company...for snacking, entertaining picnics or parties!. Barbecue crax, sesame crax, and flavorful vee-gee crax...introduce tem to your favorite spreads and dips! box 29 cents." (Los Angeles Times, p. 8, includes illustration of sesame crax box)
December 29, 1965
"Beer, Cola or Scotch Chasers."
March 15, 1973
"Sea Pilot, Cheese 'N Chive, Beer Chasers, Crax"
January 31, 1977
"Beer Chaser Crackers, Tavern Crackers, Animal Crackers."
October 25, 1985
Fig Newtons were first produced in 1891 by the National Biscuit Company, now known as Nabisco. They have a long and interesting history.
There seems to be some confusion as to which the year Fig Newtons were created. The company that manufactures these cookies (Nabisco) and the town of Newton state the year is 1891. Most food history sources say 1892.
The town of Newton celebrated the 100th anniversary of Fig Newtons April 10th, 1991: "The 100th anniversary of a cookie may not be considered a milestone for the history books, but residents of Newton believe the Fig Newton's first century is something to celebrate. Newton is an all-American city, and the Fig Newton is an all-American cookie," said Linda Plaut, the city's director of cultural affairs. "We're all proud of that." ...The Newton, as it was originally called, was created in 1891 at the Kennedy Biscuit Works in Cambridgeport, now known as Cambridge, said Mark Gutsche, a Nabisco spokesman."
---Associated Press Newswire, April 11, 1991, Thursday, AM cycle
This is what the food history books say:
"Fig Newtons were first produced in 1891, when baker James Henry Mitchell invented a machine that would allow a cake-like cookie, filled with fig jam, to be made. The machine was actually a funnel within a funnel, so handy and effective that Kennedy Biscuit Works snatched it up and started to produce the famous cookie, which became an immediate success. The name of the cookie originally was "Newtons," taken from the town of Newton, a suburb of Boston...The Kennedy Biscuit Works later became a part of the National Biscuit Company [now Nabisco]....Neither the taste, shape, or size of Fig Newtons has been changed in over one hundred years."
---The Encyclopedia of Consumer Brands, edited by Janice Jorgensen, [St. James Press:Detroit] 1994, Volume 1 (pps.183-185)--includes a list of articles
"Fig...A sweet multiseeded fruit of the fig tree or shrub, usually eaten dried. It originated in northern Asia Minor. The word is from the Latin 'ficus.' Figs were introduced into America on the island of Hispanola in 1520 by the Spaniards...Most of the fig crop goes into making a sweet filling for Fig Newtons...The cookie was first produced after Philadelphian James Henry Mitchell developed a machine in 1892 to combine a hollow cookie crust with a jam filling. This machine was brought to the Kennedy Biscuit works, which tried it out in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, and the resulting cookie was christened "Newton's cakes," after the nearby Boston suburb of Newton..."
---The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 126-7)
"In 1892 Mitchell applied for a patent for his new machine, which was granted. Although he had no name for his 'pie,' he thought the idea might be of value in commercial baking. So in 1892 he persuaded officials of the Kennedy Biscuit Works, which had recently become affiliated with the New York Biscuit Company, to try out his new machine, which he shipped to Cambridgeport. Mitchell personally installed the machine and supervised its functioning...The professional bakers tasted the final result, found it good and went away impressed....But promotion could not start until a name was selected...The exciting new product of the Mitchell machine needed some such name. Later an assistant to James Hazen, manager of the Cambridgeport bakery, recalled, "The name was taken from the name of the town Newton-a suburb of Boston." When the name was selected for this new product, it reflected a practice--by Mr. Hazen, who was manager of this plant--of using the names of towns and cities in the vicinity of Boston."
---Out of the Cracker Barrel, William Cahn [Simon & Schuster:New York] 1969 (p.102)
"In 1892 the Kennedy Biscuit Works...purchased a machine designed to extrude a thick filling material and enclose it in cookie dough, and decided to produce a cookie filled with fig jam."
---Yankee Magazine, August 1995 (p. 19)
It seems that the cookie itself was first created in 1891, but not marketed under the name Fig Newton until 1892.
U.S.Patent & Trademark Registration:
Word Mark FIG NEWTONS Goods and Services IC 030. US 046. G & S: BAKERY PRODUCTS-NAMELY, BISCUITS. FIRST USE: 18910000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 18910000 Mark Drawing Code (5) WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS IN STYLIZED FORM Serial Number 71551025 Filing Date March 2, 1948 Registration Number 0588911 Registration Date April 27, 1954 Owner (REGISTRANT) NATIONAL BISCUIT COMPANY CORPORATION NEW JERSEY 449 WEST 14TH STREET NEW YORK NEW YORK (LAST LISTED OWNER) NABISCO, INC. CORPORATION BY CHANGE OF NAME FROM NEW JERSEY 7 CAMPUS DRIVE PARSIPPANY NEW JERSEY 070540311
And then...there's this other claim:
A Fig Newton of His Imagination? Roser Park was originally developed by Charles Martin Roser, an Ohioan who foresaw the opportunities of the Florida land boom of the early twentieth century. The prospect of a leisurely life on the balmy Pinellas Peninsula was drawing a steady stream of emigrants from the cold north, and to accommodate them Roser purchased land on the outskirts of another developer's work. The location he selected along Booker Creek was picturesque, geographically and ecologically dynamic, and truly unique. Accordingly, he created a neighborhood that was as appealing and diverse as its environment, offering the widest possible array of architectural styles. Roser was born in 1864 in Elyria, Ohio. It is believed that he earned his fame and fortune by developing the recipe or baking process for the famous Fig Newton cookie, and selling it to the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco). Roser initially had an interest in a cheese business in Wellington, OH, and by 1899, was operating a candy and cookie factory in Kenton, OH that was turning out fig cookies. Legend has it that Roser sold Nabisco the rights to his fig cookies for 1 million dollars, the modern equivalent of about 19 million. Nabisco has maintained for some time that the Fig Newton was invented in 1891 by Philadelphia inventor James Henry Mitchell. Mitchell is said to have invented the duplex dough-sheeting machines and funnels that made the jam-filled cookies possible. According to a Nabisco marketing director, Nabisco purchased Mitchell's fig cookie, his machines and his Kennedy Biscuit Works outside Newton, MA in 1898, the same year that Nabisco itself was formed by the merger of the New York Biscuit Company and the American Biscuit & Manufacturing Company in Chicago. Nabisco observed further that although they are familiar with several stories claiming credit for the cookie, they have no record of Charles Roser. More recently, however, Nabisco has seemed more willing to take other possible contributions to the confectionary invention into account. After all, the company was formed in 1898 through the merger of 114 bakeries whose 400 ovens combined to consume 2 million barrels of flour a year, yielding 360 million pounds of crackers annually. The New York Times reported that "all the biscuit and cracker companies between Salt Lake City on the west, Portland, Maine, on the east, and St. Louis and New Orleans in the south, will tomorrow morning be under one management." Individual credit for specific innovations in any one of those given markets or bakeries would be difficult to establish with any degree of accuracy after all this time. Some sources say that Roser sold his recipe to the Kennedy Biscuit Works before it was swept up by the Nabisco merger."
Source: Roser Park, Florida, history
Food historians tell us benne/sesame seeds were introduced to colonial-era America by West African slaves. The traditional use in that region was as a thickener for soups and stews. Not cake or candy. Confections composed of seeds and nuts originated in the Middle East (think: Medieval halva & brittle). Europeans overlayed local culinary traditions creating comfits and seed cakes (Elizabethan era forwards). Europeans, like all immigrants, cooked what they knew when they arrived in America. When & how did benne seeds slip into European recipes?
African-American scholars state Low Country slaves had small garden patches for personal use. They grew sesame seeds and groundnuts (peanuts) among other edibles. Generally, European colonists regarded ingredients used by people they considered inferior (think: Native Americans and slaves) as undesirable. They were used in "make do" situations. Benne seeds present a conundrum because the were highly regarded in many parts of the world. Not so much England and France. So: did African Americans incorporate their benne seeds into European recipes to entice white people to try them? Or, did the Europeans resort to benne due to lack of imported seeds for their traditional cakes (caraway, aniseed). Early American cookbooks evidence the crossover for ground nuts (peanuts). It is possible benne seeds were likewise employed but not well documented. The answer may be unlocked in primary documents not yet discovered: letters, diaries, manuscript cookbooks, personal journals. Literacy among the slaves was minimal which may skew the possibility of balanced evidence. Today we embrace benne wafers (cakes, cookies) as one of the cornerstones of Low Country culinary heritage.
Tracing the culinary evolution through recipes
"Thin Naples Biscuits
Take 1 lb Sugar and 12 Eggs whites and yolks, beat the Whites separately as the froth rises throw it in, just before you put it in the oven add 1/2 lb. Flour, beat it very well to-gether, and put in either a little rose Water, a few peach kernels or Orange Peel, but the principal thing to be observed is to bake it extremely thin, you may bake it on paper or tin sheets."
---A Colonial Plantation Cookbook: The Receipt Book of Harriott Pinckney Horry, 1770, edited with an introduction by Richard J. Hooker [University of South Carolina Press:Columbia SC] 1984 (p. 104)
[NOTE: Were benne seeds were substituted for peach kernels at some point?]
"An Excellent Receipt for Groundnut Candy.
To one quart of molasses add half a pint of brown sugar and a quart of a pound of butter; boil it for half an hour over a slow fire; then put in a quart of groundnuts, parched and shelled; boil for a quarter of an hour, and then pour it into a shallow tin pan to harden."
One pint of parched and pounded groundnuts, one pint of brown sugar, the whites of five eggs; froth the eggs, and stir in, alternately, the sugar and nuts. Bake in patties, in a slow oven."
---The Carolina Housewife, Sarah Rutledge, facsimile 1847 edition with an introduction by Anna Wells Rutledge [University of South Carolina Press:Columbia SC] 1979 (p. 219)
[NOTE: Ground nuts were also "imported" from Africa by slaves. Presumably, benne seeds, of similar origin, could have been used instead.]
Benne seed cannot be procured in many places, but the candy made with it is so delicious and so characteristic of Charleston that the recipe is here included.
1 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
2 cups parched benne seed
Add the extracts to the sugar. Melt the sugar in a saucepan, stirring constantly, as for peanut brittle. When the sugar is melted, add the benne seed, stirring it in quickly. Pour at once onto a marble slab to cool or pour into lightly buttered pans. Mark in one-inch squares while still warm and break along the lines when cold.--Mrs. Rhett."
---200 Years of Charleston Cooking, Recipes gathered by Blanche S. Rhett, revised edition [Random House:New York] 1930, 1934(p. 220-221)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 up flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped peanuts
Cream the butter, add the sugar gradually, and bat in the well-beaten egg. Sift the flour and salt together and add with the peanuts. Drop from a spoon on a well-greased cookie sheet and bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees F.) from fifteen to twenty minutes. This makes about four dozen cookies, very rich in peanuts. In fact, the idea is to use just enough other ingredients to make the peanuts stick together. Helen Rhett Simons."
---ibid (p. 205-206)
[NOTE: We wonder if benne seeds could have been used as a variation.]
"Benne (Sesame) Seed Cookies
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups benne seed
3/4 cup melted shortening
3/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons hot water
Pinch of salt
Drop on baking sheet and cook in moderatae oven. This recipe for Benne or Sesame Cookies dates back to the days when slaves were shipped to South Carolina from Africa. Their medicine men brought this seed with them and it was used first as a medicine, then in cookies and molasses or honey candies."
---America Cooks: Favorite Recipes from 48 States, the Browns, Cora Rose and Bob [Garden City Books:Garden City NY] 1940 (p. 757)
"Benne Seed Wafers
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 block butter, or 3/4 cup cooking oil or oleo
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup benne seed (toasted)
Crean the butter and sugr, add beaten egg, then four sifted with salt and baking powder. Add vanilla and benne seed. Drop by teaspoon on greased cookie sheet. Bake in moderate oe 325 debrees Cool quickly Allow to cool one minute before removing from pann. This makes a transparent wafer. Yield: about 100.---Mrs. Gustave P Richards (Lizetta Wagener)
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup benne (toasted)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Cream butter and sugar together and mix with other ingredients, in the order given. Drop with a teaspoon on waxed paper in pan far enough to allow spreading. Bake in moderate oven 325 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Yield: 7 dozen.---Mrs. Maynard Marshall (Harriott Simons)
"Very Thin Benne Cookies
3/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup benne seed
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix and droep on greased pan let it run. Bake in 375 degree F, oven and cook till brown. Remove from pan while hot. Yield: about 50.---Mrs. L. L. Oliveros (Evelyn Kenan)"
---Charleston Receipts, collected by the Junior League of Charleston [Walker, Evans & Cogswell:Charleston SC] 1950 (p. 267-268)
"Benne Seed Cookies
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream butter and add sugar. Add beaten egg. Sift flour, salt and baking powder and add to butter mixture. Add vanilla and toasted benne seed. Drop with a teaspoon on cooky sheet--allow for spreading. Bake at 325 degrees F. till a golden brown."
---The South Carolina Cook Book, collected and edited by the South Carolina Extension Homemakers Council and the Clemson Extension Home Economics staff, revised edition [University of South Carolina Press:Columbia SC] 1954 (p. 372)
Biscotti date to Ancient times. The term literally means "twice baked." These hard biscuits fueled armies and fed travelers. Flavor variations and culinary techniques evolved according to time and place. English rusk, German zweiback, Jewish mandelbrot, British ship's biscuit, and American hardtack are similar in purpose and method. About biscuits.
"Biscuit. A small, dry, flat cake, traditionally with good keeping qualities, eaten as a snack or accompaniment to a drink, and sweet or savory. Sweet biscuits are eaten as an accompaniment to coffee, tea or milk--and mid-morning wine in Italy--and partner desserts of ice cream. They are used to make desserts--charlottes in particular--and macaroon crumbs are often added to custards or creams...In France biscuits are simply regarded as one aspect of petits fours, with their own wide repertoire...Their English and French name comes from the Latin bis meaning twice and coctus meaning cooked, for biscuits should be in theory be cooked twice , which gives them a long storage life...This very hard, barely risen biscuit was for centuries the staple food of soldiers and sailors. Roman legions were familiar with it and Pliny claimed that "Parthian bread" would keep for centuries...Soldiers biscuits or army biscuits were known under Louis XIV as "stone bread." In 1894, army biscuits were replaced by war bread made of starch, sugar, water, nitrogenous matter, ash, and cellulose, but the name "army biscuit" stuck...Biscuits were also a staple item in explorers' provisions. Traveller's biscuits, in the 19th century, were hard pastries or cakes wrapped in tin foil which kept well."
---Larousse Gastronomique, Completely Revised and Updated [Clarkson Potter:New York] 2001 (page 113)
"Biscotto. "Twice baked." Dry cookie. Often containing nuts, biscotti are usually slices from a twice-baked flattened cookie loaf. In Tuscany, biscotti or cantucci are almond cookies. In Sicily, biscotti a rombo are diamond-shaped cookies and b. Regina (queen's biscuits) are sesame seed biscuits. B. Tipo pavesini are almond biscuits of Pavia. B. De la bricia are flavoured with fennel seeds, a specialty of La Spezia. B. Aviglianese (Avigliano stype) are made with unleavened bread."
---The Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink, John Mariani [Broadway Books:New York] 1998 (p. 36)
"Biscuit, a cereal product that has been baked twice. The result is relatively light (because little water remains), easy to store and transport (therefore a useful food for travellers and soldiers), sometimes hard to eat without adding water or olive oil."
---Food in the Ancient World From A to Z, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London] 2003 (p. 53)
Almonds, hazelnuts, anise, and sesame seeds were well known to ancient cooks. Chocolate was introduced to the "Old World" in the 16th century. It took approximately hundred years before this ingredient was incorporated into European desserts. It wasn't until the 19th century this ingredient found its way into baked goods. Italian Cuisine: A Cultural History (Alberto Capatti & Massimo Montanari) references both biscotti and hazelnuts, although not together in one recipe, as foods relished by the wealthy during the 16th century (p. 128).
"568. Biscotti Croccanti I
(Crunch Cookies I)
500 grams (about 1 pound) of flour
220 grams (about 7 3/4 ounces) of powdered sugar
120 grams (about 4 1/4 ounces) of whole sweet blanched almonds, mixed with some pine nuts
30 grams (about 1 ounce) of butter
a pinch of aniseed
a pinch of salt
Leave aside the almonds and pine nuts to add later, and blend all the other ingredients with four eggs (you only ned to use the fifth egg if necessary) to make a rather soft dough. Add the almonds and pine nuts, and then make four loaves of dough about as thick as a finger and as long as the palm of your hand; arrange them in a baking pan greased with butter and dusted with flour, and gild with egg yolk. Do not bake the loaves too long, so that you can slice them. This is better done the next day, because the crust has time to soften. Put the slices bakc in the oven and toast lightly on both sides, and there you have your crunchy cookies."
---Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, Pelligrino Artusi, 1891 edition translated by Murtha Baca and Stephen Saratelli [Marsilio Publishers:New York] 1997 (p. 396)
[NOTE: This book also offers recipes for Crunch Cookies II, Biscoitti Teneri (Soft cookies), Biscotti da Famiglia (Family-style cookes), Bisciotti Della Salute (Health Cookies) and Biscotto Alla Sultana (Sultan cake).]
"346. Biscuit (Biscotto)
Powdered sugar, 1/2lb.
Wholewheat flour, 3 1/2 oz.
Potato Flour, almost 2 oz.
Lemon rind flavoring
Stir the egg yolks, the sugar and a spoonful of tow kinds of flour for at least half an hour. Beat the egg whites and add; mix slowly, and when the compound is uniform, pour int he flour thorugh a sieve. The flour must have been dried in the sun or near the fire. Smear a baking-pan with butter and spraty it with powdered sugar and flour. Bake the biscuit until it is raised about 2 in."
---Italian Cook Book, adopted from the Italian of Pelligrino Artusi by Olga Ragusa [S. F. Vanni:New York] 1945 (p. 220)
[NOTE: This book also offers a recipe for Chocolate Biscuit.]
Aunt Lena's Anise Slices
1 lb. flour
6 drops anise oil (purchased at drugstore) 1/2 lb. butter or shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Beat 5 eggs with salt; add sugar; blend thoroughly. Sift flour and baking powder; add to eggs and sugar mixture. Add anise oil...Softened butter or shortening; mix well. Knead until dough is smooth and manageble. The roll dough into oblong loaf 5 inches broad and about 3/4 inch thick. Brush with 1 beaten egg; sprinkle with sugar; cut into 1-inch slices. Place slices in greased baking pan; bake for 15 minutes in moderate oven, or until light brown. Enough for 1 1/2 dozen slices." ---The Art of Italian Cooking, Maria Lo Pinto and Milo Miloradovich [Doubleday & Company:Garden City NY] 1953 (p. 158-159)
Related foods? English rusk German zweiback, & Jewish Mandelbrot. British ship's biscuit, and American hardtack are similar in purpose and method.
Mandel (almond) Brot (bread)
The answer to questions regarding the origin of this recipe depends upon whether you are seeking a culinary history or linguistic study of mandelbrodt. Historians confirm that almonds were known to ancient middle eastern cooks, and were incorprated into many recipes. Biscuits/biscotti, twice-baked hard breads, were popular in Ancient Rome and generally spread with the Romans to other parts of the continent. Back in the day when modern packaging/preservation options didn't exist, this dried bread was a sensible option. The term mandelbrot is of Germanic heritage and this particular food is traditionally associated with Eastern European Jews. Perhaps this suggests (although the recipe may be ancient) the genesis of the food with this name may be linguistically placed in Medieval Eastern Europe.
"Mandelbrot, kamishbrot, and biscotti: three twice-baked cookies. One is Italian. The others are Eastern European Jewish. Is there a connection? Perhaps. "We've thought about the connection," said Peter Pastan, chef-owner of Obelisk, a tiny pix fixe Italian restaurant in Washington D.C. "Mandelbrot is all over Eastern Europe and in Italy everybody has a different recipe for biscotti--some with fennel, some are crunchy; the ones around Siena are ugly but good." Mr. Pastan, who comes form an American-Jewish family, studied cooking in Italy before opening his mostly Italian restaurant. With a large Jewish population in Piedmont, Italy may have been the place where Jews first tasted biscotti and later brought them to Eastern Europe where they called the mandelbrot, which means literally almond bread. In the Ukraine, a similar cookies not necessarily with almonds by made at home, thuskamish, was served. In Italy they are often eaten as a dessert dipped into wine or grappa. In Eastern Europe Jews dipped them into a glass of tea, and because they include no butter and are easily kept they became a good Sabbath dessert."
---Jewish Cooking in America, Joan Nathan [Alfred A. Knopf:New York] 1998 (p. 354)
Related foods? Italian Biscotti, English rusk & German zweiback, British ship's biscuit, and American hardtack are similar in purpose and method.
Ancient Roman soldiers carried a hard bread known as biscoctus. This literally translates as bis/twice coctus/cooked). Rusks are a similar product. Foods of this type existed in ancient Rome, the name did not. Food historians tell us recipes for foods named rusk began showing up during the reign of Elizabeth I. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first printed record of this word dates to 1595.
"Rusks are composed of bread dough incorporating sugar, eggs, and butter. It is shaped into a loaf or cylinder, baked, cooled, and sliced and then dried in low heat until hard. They have a low water content and keep well. Sharing a common origin with the modern biscuit, medieval rusks were known as panis biscoctus (meaning twice-cooked bread') and were used as a for of preserved bread to provision armies and ships at sea...In many countries there are products which resemble rusks in that they are essentially oven-dried bread, whether plain (e.g. bruchetta) or of a sweet kind; but they may incorporate other ingredients such as spices or nuts, and ar given individual names according to the recipe."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 676)
"Rusks are a legacy of Elizabethan naval provisions. They were originally smallish lumps of bread rebaked so as to be indestructible enough to last out a long voyage. The earliest known reference to them comes in an account of Drake's voyages written in 1595: The provision...was seven or eight cakes of biscuit or rusk for a man.' The modern, more refined notion of a rusk as a slice of bread crisped by rebaking emerged in the mid-eighteenth century, and already by the end of the century rusks were being recommended as food for very young children (a niche they largely occupy today). The word is an adaptation of Spanish or Portuguese rosca, which originally meant literally twist, coil, and hense twisted piece of bread'." ---An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 289)
About Rusk in America
"This was a particularly popular form of small bread or roll among the Quakers and was usually served at breakfast or at afternoon tea. In flavor, traditional Quaker rusks shoudl be fainly sweet; in color, they should be deep yellow (from the eggs) with dark brown tops. In the country, there were usually eaten fresh, although technically a true rusk should be dry and brittle because it is dried out in a slack oven. The dry rusks were broken up in breakfast coffee or tea. At one time, rusks were a fairly widespread feature of urban Anglo-American cookery, at least on the East Coast. They were introduced from England, where they were popularly served as shipboard fare, as dried rusks soulc be laid down in tins or stored for long periods of time. The name, however, is of foreign origin and may be derived from the Spanish or Portuguese rosca, a twist or roll of bread. Such small breads often served as part of the traveling fare for Spanish or Portuguese sailors."
---A Quaker Woman's Cookbook: The Domestic Cookery of Elizabeth Ellicott Lea, facsimile 1851 edition introduced and historially noted by William Woys Weaver [Stackpole Books:Mechanicsburg PA] revised edition, 2004 (p. 341)
Mrs. Lea's Rusk recipe, circa 1851
Take a quart of milk, a tea-cup of cream, half a pound of lard, quarter of a pound of butter, a spoonful of salt, and boil them together; beat well two eggs with a pound of sugar, and pour the boiling milk on them gradually, stirring all the time; when nearly cold, add a tea-cup of yeast, and flour sufficient to make a stiff batter; when quite light, knead it up as bread, and let it lighten again before moulding out; when they are moulded out, wet them over with sugar and cream, and let them rise a few minutes and bake them; grade a little sugar over when they come out of the oven."
"Rusk for Drying
Boil a quart of milk, and put in it half a pound of butter, and a little salt; when nearly cold, stir in a teacup of yeast, a pound of sugar, and flour to make a batter; when it is light, knead it up with flour, and let it rise again; grease your pans, and make it out in cakes, about the size of a tea-cup, and an inch thick; put two layers in each pan, and bake them three-quarters of an hour; when take them out, break them apart, and put the top ones in other pans, and let them dry slowly in the oven for an hour or more. This rusk will keep for months, and is very useful in sickness, to make panada; it is also good for delicate persons that rich cake disagrees with, or to take on a journey. Nutmeg or made to your taste. If you like it richer, two eggs may be put in."
Take as much lightened dough, as wopuld make a loaf of bread, spread it open, and put in a tea-cup of sugar, some nutmeg and a piece of butter; work it well, mould it out, and bake it with your bread; wet the top with sugar and cream before it goes into the oven."
---A Quaker Woman's Cookbook/Weaver (p. 124-125)
Related foods? Italian Biscotti, Jewish Mandelbrot & German zweiback, British ship's biscuit, and American hardtack are similar in purpose and method. German Zweiback
"In German a rusk is a zweiback, i.e. twice baked. It takes the form of a small loaf which can be sold fresh but which ordinarily is sliced before toasting and further baking until dry. It crossed the Atlantic with German emingrants in the 1890s and is common in the USA. The French equivalent, biscotte, is baked as an oblong loaf, sliced, then toasted in a hotter oven than is used to dry English rusks."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2nd edition, 2006 (p. 676)
"Zweibach is an American English term which is etymologically, and to some extent semantically, identical with biscuit. it is a sort of rusk made by cutting up a small loaf and toasting or baking the slices slowly until they are dry. Hence they are in effect 'twice cooked'--a notion expressed in French by biscuit and in German by zwieback (from zwie, a variant of zwei, 'twice' and backen, 'bake'). The word seems to have crossed the Atlantic with German emigrants in the 1890s. Zwiebacks are often given to teething babies."
---An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 375)
Related foods? Italian Biscotti, Jewish Mandelbrot & English Rusk, British ship's biscuit, and American hardtack are similar in purpose and method.
Chocolate chip cookies
Ruth Wakefield [June 17, 1903-January 10, 1977], Whitman Mass., is credited for inventing chocolate chip cookies at her Toll House Restaurant in the early 1930s. According to the story, Ruth used a Nestle candy bar for her chips. We will probably never know if Ruth was the very first person to put chocolate pieces in cookies, but she is certainly the one who made them famous.
Who Was Ruth Wakefield?
"Ruth Graves graduated from the Framingham State Normal School Department of Household Arts in 1924. After graduation, she worked as a dietitian and food lecturer. In 1930, she published a cookbook entitled Ruth Wakefield's Recipes: Tried and True. The book went through thirty-nine printings. The most famous of her original recipes was the Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie, named for the restaurant that she and her husband Ken Wakefield owned, the Toll House Inn. Better known as the chocolate chip cookie, Ruth Wakefield developed this recipe in 1933 by breaking up a Nestle semi-sweet chocolate bar and adding it to a basic brown sugar cookie dough. In the years that followed, the Wakefields enjoyed a pleasant relationship with the Nestle Company, which eventually featured the cookie recipe on the wrapper of its semi-sweet candy bar. When Nestle began the production of chocolate morsels, the recipe, too, was printed on the back of each package where it remains to this day. Ruth's interest in seeking new and innovative recipes to serve at the couple's restaurant led her to amass a collection of cookbooks. In 1969, two years after the Wakefields sold the Toll House Inn, Ruth Graves Wakefield donated her cookbooks to the Special Collections."
--- Framingham State University Library (Mrs. Wakefield's cookbooks and archives are housed at this library).
Is the Toll House still operating?
Sadly, No. It was destroyed by fire in 1985. The caption under the photograph printed by the New York Times (January 2, 1985 I 12:5) describing the fire that destroyed Ruth Wakefield's kitchen the reads "Wreckage of Toll House Restaurant in Whitman, Mass. It was where the chocolate chip cookie was invented." In the July, 1997 Governor Weld signed legislation that declared chocolate chip cookies to be the official cookie of the Commonwealth in honor or Ruth Wakefield (much to the dismay of the Fig Newton faction).
The original recipe?
"Here's a new cookie that everybody loves because it is so delicious, so different and so easy to make. With each crisp bite you taste a delicious bit of Nestle's Semi-Sweet Chocolate and a crunch of rich walnut meat. A perfect combination. Here's a proven recipe that never fails. Try it tomorrow.
1 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten whole
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon hot water
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts
2 Nestle's Semi-Sweet Economy Bars (7 oz. ea.)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Important: Cut the Nestle's Semi-Sweet in pieces the size of a pea. Cream butter and add sugars and beaten egg. Dissolve soda in the hot water and mix alternately with the flour sifted with the salt. Lastly add the chopped nuts and the pieces of semisweet chocolate. Flavor with the vanilla and drip half teaspoons on a greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes in a 375 degree F. oven. Makes 100 cookies. Every one will be surprised and delighted to find that the chocolate does not melt. Insist on Nestle's Semi-Sweet Chocolate in the yellow Wrap, there is no substitute. This unusual recipe and many others can be found in Mrs. Ruth Wakefield's Cook Book--"Toll House Tried and True Recipes," on sale at all book stores."
---display ad, Chicago Tribune, April 26, 1940 (p. 24)
[NOTES: (1) Nestle ads promoting these cookies were published in USA papers nationwide. This chocolate was in bars, not tiny morsels. "Nestle's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bars for making 'Toll House' cookies, 2 Bars for 25 cents," ---display ad, Los Angeles Times, January 29, 1940 (p. 4). (2) The earliest print references we find for morsels appears the following year: "Nestle Morsels, two 7 oz pkgs 25 cents." Los Angeles Times, March 21, 1941 (p. 6)]
"Chocolate Chip Drop Cookies
A specially prepared chocolate may be bought for use in cookies. Any semisweet chocolate may be substituted, cut into pea-sized pieces. Use it as you would raisins, nut meats, etc. Follow the proceding recipe for: Drop Cookies. Use only 1/2 cup chopped nts. Add: 1/2 cup chipped chocolate."
---Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer [Bobbs-Merrill Company:Indianapolis IN] 1946 (p. 595)
"Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies
Cream 1 cup butter, add 3/4 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 2 eggs beaten whole. Dissolve 1 tsp. Soda in 1 tsp. Hot water, and mix alternately with 2 1/4 cups flour sifted with 1 tsp. Salt. Lastly add 1 cup chopped nuts and 2 bars (7-oz.) Nestles yellow label chocolate, semi-sweet, which has been cut in pieces the size of a pea. Flavor with 1 tsp vanilla and drip half teaspoons on a greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes in 375 degrees F. Oven. Makes 100 cookies."
---Toll House Tried and True Recipes, Ruth Wakefield [M. Barrows:New York] 1947 (p. 216)
"Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies
1 cup butter. Add
3/4 cp brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten. Dissolve
1 teaspoon soda in
1 teaspoon hot water. Add
2 1/4 cups flour sifted. Add
1 teaspooon salt. Add
1 cup chopped nuts
2 packages semisweet chocolate morsels
1 teaspoon vanilla
Drop by half teaspoonsfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 100 cookies. At Toll House, we chill this dough overnight. When ready for baking, we roll a teaspoon of dough overnight between palms of hands and place balls 2 inches apart on grased baking sheet. Then we press balls with finger tips to form flat rounds. This way cookies do not spread as much in the baking and they keep uniformly round. They should be brown through, and crispy, not quite and hard as I have sometimes seen them."
---Ruth Wakefield's Toll House Cook Book, Ruth Wakefield [Little, Brown and Company:Boston] new edition completely revised, February 1955 (p. 208)
"Chocolate Chip Cookies
...Glamourous, crunchy, rich with chocolate bits and nuts. Also known as 'Toll House' cookies...from Kenneth and Ruth Wakefield's charming New England Toll House on the outskirts of Whitman, Massachusetts. These cookies were first introduced to American homemakers in 1939 through our series of radio talks on 'Famous Foods from Famous Eating Places.'
Mix thoroughly...2/3 cup soft shortening (part butter), 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed), 1 egg, 1 tsp. vanilla.
Sift together and stir in...6 oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate pieces (about 1 1/4 cups) For a softer, more rounded cooky, use 1 3/4 cups sifted flour.
Drop rounded teaspoonfuls about 2" apart on ungreased bakding sheet. Bake until delicately browned...cookies should still be soft. Cool slightly before removing from baking sheet.
Temperature: 375 degrees (quick mod. oven). Time: Bake 8 to 10 min.. Amount: 4 to 5 doz. 2" cookies." ---Betty Crocker's Picture Book, General Mills, Inc., revised and enlarged, 2nd edition [McGraw-Hills Book Company:New York] 1956 (p. 197)
Petit fours & mignardise
The confusion regarding "petit four" is that it is not a recipe. It is a term denoting a wide variety of small, fancy cakes and cookie. Some people today think of petits fours as defined by mail-order food companies: bite-sized seasonally-decorated chocolate-covered muli-layered cake-like confections.
What is a real petit four and why the name?
"Petit four. A small fancy biscuit (cookie), cake or item of confectionery. The name, according to Careme, dates from the 18th century, when ovens were made of brick and small items had to be cooked a petit four (at a very low temperature), after large cakes had been take out and the temperature had dropped. After the bonbons, dragees, marzipans, pralines and crystallized (candied) fruits that were in vogue during the Renaissance and in the reign of Louis XIV, other tidbits were created. They required imagination an flair by the pastry cooks to reproduce the large-scale decorations in miniature. Careme himself attached great importance to the petits fours known as colifichets..."
---Larousse Gastronomique, completely revised and updated [Clarkson Potter:New York] 2001 (p. 876)
"Petit four. A petit four is a small fancy cake, biscuit, or sweet-such as a piece of marzipan or a crystallized or chocolate covered fruit--typically severed nowadays with coffee at the end of a meal. The term is French in origin. It means literally small oven', and may have come from the practice of cooking tiny cakes and biscuits a petit four, that is in low oven, at low temperature'. It was adopted into English in the late nineteenth century."
---An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 252)
The Oxford English Dictionary does nor include references to this term. The oldest reference we find for this term appears in Jules Gouffre's The Royal Cookery Book  "Remarks on Dessert. Under this heading I have given a limited number of recipes of Petits-Fours, of Bonbons and Ices, without attempting an elaborate treatise of confectionery,-a course which would have required far more space than I have left." (p. 545). Gouffre lists these items under the heading "Petits fours": filbert macaroons, pistachio macaroons, chocolate macaroons, macaroons souffles, lemon massepains (marzipan), almond paste loaves flavoured with orange, almond paste loaves with apricot jam, almond paste crescents, almond paste cakes, almond paste rings, almond paste tartlets with pine-apple, ice wafers, dutch wafers, Raspberry bouchees de Dames, coffee glaces, marascsino glaces, small meringues with cherries, etc.
The first mention of "petits fours" in The New York Times was a menu for a dinner given by Mr. Randolph Guggenheim (lawyer), January 28, 1894 (p. 17).
The term mignardise, as applied to the culinary world, means an assortment of small, dainty confections. This assortment is generally composed of petits fours in the larger sense: tiny decorated cakes, specialty cookies, bonbons and sugared fruits. In other words, a plate of identical petits fours confections (no matter how ornate) would not be considered a mignardise. A mixed presentation of small, decorated specialty pastries, cookies and candies would qualify as mignardise.
General French definitions
"Mignardise. Preciousness, ornateness, daintiness, affectation."
---Collins Robert French English/English French Dicitonary, unabridged, Beryl Atkins et al, 4th ed. [HarperCollins:New York]1995 (p. 512)
"Mignardise. Daintiness, delicacy."
---Harrap's New Standard French and English Dictionary (p. M:40)
"Mignardises. Small, dainty confections."
---Master Dictionary of Food and Cookery, Henry Smith [Philosphical Library:New York] 1950 (p. 153)
"Mignardise. (i) Decorative pastry puff, (ii) Small dainty dish."
---International Dictionary of Food & Cooking, Ruth Martin [Hastings House:New York] 1974 (p. 177)
"At a sophisticated meal in France, an assortment of petits fours (sometimes known as mignardises) may be served either with or after the dessert."
---Larousse Gastronomique, Jenifer Harvey Lang, editor [Crown:New York] 1988 p. 793)
Escoffier (1903/Le Guide Culinaire) does not not have a separate entry for mignardise.
Cream cheese cookery is a Central European tradition with ancient Middle Eastern roots. Cookies, pastries and cakes combining this ingredient with fruits, jams, nuts and spices are specialties of this part of the world. According to the food historians, contemporary Jewish-American rugelach (typically made with cream cheese) descends from this tradition. George Lang's The Cuisine of Hungary [New York:Atheneum 1982] contains several examples: Dios szelet (walnut pie), Edes okorszem (Sweet Bull's Eye) and Gyumolcskosarkak (Little Fruit Crescents) among them.
These cookies are known by different names in different countries: Kipfel (Germany), kifli (Yugolsavia) and cream cheese cookies (United States). Presumably, the first recipes for rugelach-type foods were introduced to America by immigrants from Hungary, Yugoslavia and neighboring countries. Some of these immigrants were Jewish.
The word "rugelach" descends from Yiddish linguistic traditions. There are several spellings and pronunciations. Although some food history books state the word "rugelach" means "royal," Yiddish language scholars trace this word to Polish roots. Polish culinary scholars agree:
"Rogale or crescent rolls (called crostulli in Latin) are half-moon shaped rolls made of high-quality wheat flour. The Polish word rogal means 'horn.'"
---Food and Drink in Medieval Poland: Rediscovering a Cuisine of the Past, Maria Dembinska [University of Pennsylvania Press:Philadelphia PA] 1999 (p. 116)
Mildred Bellin's Jewish Cookbook [Tudor Publishing:New York, 1958] offers two recipes for rugelach. One is a traditional yeast based product, the other is discreetly tucked under "Hungarian cream cheese cookies,Variation II," containing unsalted butter, cream cheese, sugar, flour and salt. Ms. Bellin observes:
"The variety of cookies and confections which may be found in a Jewish home reflects the long history and international background of its inhabitants. There are for the holidays traditional sweets, some of which like Hamantaschen, are a historic part of the festival. Others originated in the many lands in which the Jewish people lived, but through the generations became part of their own tradition. The cookies popular in the United States today are eagerly tried by Jewish cooks, and are served as frequently as the older ones." (p. 262)
"There is no other Jewish sweet that has gone more mainstream than rugelach. Basically a crescent-shaped cookies...it is also called kipfel, cheese bagelach, and cream-cheese horns of plenty in this country. The yeast-based and often butter or sour cream-based dough in Europe was usually rolled out into circles, cut into pie shapes, covered with nuts, raisins, sugar, and cinnamon and then rolled up like pinwheels. It can also be rolled out into a rectangle, covered with filling, rolled up, and cut into circles...The American addition to rugelach was cream cheese and the myriad fillings used today. The cream-cheese dough may have been developed by the Philadelphia Cream Cheese Company because the dough is often called Philadelphia cream-cheese dough. One of the the early cream-cheese doughs appeared in The Perfect Hostess, written in 1950 by Mildred Knopf. Mrs. Knopf, the sister-in-law of Alfred Knopf the publisher, mentioned that the recipe came from Nela Rubenstein, the wife of the famous pianist Arthur Rubenstein. It was Mrs. Knopf's friend Maida Heatter who put rugelah on the culinary map with Mrs. Heatter's grandmother's recipe. It is the most sought after of all Mrs. Heatter's recipes and is the rugelach most often found in upscale bakeries nationwide."
---Jewish Cooking in America, Joan Nathan [Alfred A. Knopf:New York] 1998 (p. 351-2)
"Rugelach--Elsie Waldman's Recipe
1 cake yeast
1 cup commercial sour cream
4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
3 egg yolks, well beaten
1/2 pound butter (or part margarine)
1/2 cup sugar
1/16 teaspoon salt
Have all ingredients at room temperature. Crumble the yeast into the cream. Alternately add the flour and egs. Cream together the butter, sugar, and salt, and blend thoroughly into the batter. Divide the dough into 4 parts, wrap each in waxed paper, and chill in the refrigerator overnight. Roll out each part of the dough into a strip 6 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick. Spread each with jam, and sprinkle with any or all of the following: raisins, ground cinnamon, sugar, ground nut meats, and shredded cocoanut. Roll up and cut each roll into 12 slices. Place on greased cookie sheets and bake at 375 degrees F. About 30 minutes, until a rich brown."
---The Jewish Cook Book, Mildred Grosberg Bellin [Tudor Publishing Company:New York] 1958 (p. 268)
Joan Nathan's apricot or chocolate rugelach recipe (Jewish Cooking in America/PBS):
Scooter Pies & Mallomars
According to the food historians, manufactured marshmallow cake and cookie treats were first marketed to the American public in the early decades of the 20th century. These most likely descended from Victorian sandwich cakes. Advances in technology made marshmallow products of all kinds readily available to the American public. Products proliferated.
Moon pies, Whoopie Pies, Mallomars, Marshmallow Sandwiches, Marshmallow Fluff, s'mores and dozens of other marshmallow-based concoctions were immediate hits.
Scooter Pies were "second generation" so to speak. They were "born" in 1959. According to the records of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Scooter Pies were introduced December 17, 1959 (Registration #0834843) by Burry's, then a division of Quaker Oats. How much did they cost 40 years ago? Thirty-nine cents for a 14 oz package, according to a Waldbaum's [grocery store] ad that ran in the New York Times September 9, 1964 (p. 39). Like Mallomars, these marshmallow chocolate treats are promoted in the fall.
Vintage pictures of the Scooter Pie boxes:
Whoopie pies descend from cream-filled sandwich cakes popular in the Victorian era. Delicious recipes graced most European countries. Chocolate cake variations became popular in the late 19th/early 20th century when advancements in food technology made this ingredient available to the masses. Contemporary products are typically composed of chocolate/devil's food and vanilla cream. Sizes, thicknesses, and cream textures vary according to region. Some American culinary pundits tout Amish origin but offer no supporting historic print evidence for this claim. A survey of magazine/newspaper articles [ProQuest Historic, Readers Guide Retro, NewspaperArchives.com]confirms popularity (esp. In the northeast/Maine) but does not divulge much in the way of product origin.
Whoopie pies belong to the same culinary family as Scooter Pies, Moon Pies, Devil Dogs, and Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies. Second cousins are Mallomars and S'mores. History notes here:
WHOOPIE PIE THEORIES OF ORIGIN: Pennsylvania Dutch or New England/Maine? "Whoopie pie. A Pennsylvania-Dutch confection resembling a cupcake. It is usually made with chocolate batter and a white icing filling, though there are many flavor variations. According to the cookbook author and Pennsylvania restaurateur Betty Groff, whoopie pies may have originated with mothers who used leftover batter from more traditional cakes to make little cakes on cookie sheets for their children. The origin of the name is obscure, perhaps related to the whoop of joy uttered by children on receiving such an unexpected sweet."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 347)
"The origin and name of the Whoopie Pie, just one of many Amish desserts, is shrouded in mystery. No one seems to know when someone first decided to smear creamy filling between two chocolate cookies. But we do know this delectable dessert is a characteristic Amish treat." ---"Not Amish? Try whoopie pies anyway," Alison Burke, Christian Science Monitor, April 30, 2003 (p. 17)
[NOTE: None of our PA Dutch historic cookbooks offer recipes for Whoopie pies.]
Whoopie Pie Festival [PA ]
"Cookie expert Nancy Baggett, author of "The All-American Cookie Book," speculates that the whoopie pie was first made commercially at the Berwick Cake Co. in Roxbury's Dudley Square in the mid- 1920s. The words "Whoopee! Pies" are still painted on the side of the aged brick building. Today, the Berwick Research Institute, an experimental art and music venue there, calls itself "the home of the whoopie pie." "Whoopie pies were most likely a commercial product," says Baggett from her home in Ellicott City, Md. "Some bakery probably had leftover cake batter, plopped it onto a pan, and came up with a cake to eat out of hand." Whoopie pies have endured commercially and in the home kitchen, where variations include pumpkin cakes and cream cheese filling. They are perfect for the car and the lunchbox, sugary, squishy, chocolaty fun. Fans of the confection delight in this squish - the right filling is crucial to a whoopie's success."
---"Treat worth cheering for," Leigh Belinger, The Boston Globe, Sept. 17, 2004 (p. C1)
[NOTES: (1) Nancy Baggett's contact here: http://www.kitchenlane.com (2)The oldest print reference we find for Berwick's Whoopie Pies was a 1/3 page ad published in the Portland Press Herald [ME], January 28, 1950 (p. 16). This was a contest offering a 1950 Plymouth Sedan 1st prize. Several local Whoopie Pie distributors listed.]
"Just over a decade ago, Amy Bouchard drew on her love for baking to create a business in her kitchen making whoopie pies. In those days she would crank out three at a time. Now, Mrs. Bouchard churns out 5,000 to 7,000 of the sweet Wicked Whoopies each day, shipping the cream-filled cak sandwiches nationwide and beyond...Mrs. Bouchard...took a traditional New England treat and ran with it... Her husband acknowledges that the pies are still something of a regional culinary curiosity...'I didn't invent the whoopie pie, but' I like to take something and make it better, then make it great.' Mrs. Bouchard said. New England-style whoopie pies are a cousin to the Moon Pies found in the South, cookie-and-marshmallow sandwiches dipped in chocolate. While Mrs. Bouchard has competitors in her region, she believes her business is the first with a bakery devoted solely to whoopie pies. A big break came in 2003 when Wicked Whoopies were featured on Ms. [Oprah] Winfrey's Web site and TV show."
---"One Bakery Owner's Dream: Taking Whoopies to the World," New York Times, December 26, 2005 (p. A23)
[NOTE: This company still in business: http://www.wickedwhoopies.com]
Recommended reading & expert: Making Whoopies: The Official Whoopie Pie Book/Nancy Griffin
Langue de chat
Many food history books mention Langue-de-chat, a small, dry, finger-shaped biscuit whose name translates literally as "cat's tongue," but none provide much in the way of definative history. We can surmise from the ingredients/method of cooking, the earliest cookies of this type might possibly date to the 17th century. At that time refined white sugar and piping bags (capable of extruding shapes) were popular with the wealthy classes of Northern Europe. Shaped sugar cookies and sweet biscuits (gemels, gimmows, sugar cakes etc.) date to Medieval times. Mexican wedding cakes, Russian tea cakes, Spanish polvorones, melindros and biscochos are all related. Our notes on these biscuits here. Our culinary history sources do not credit a specific region of France for creating the first Langues de Chat. Presumably, the recipe evolved in regions rich with butter (north, central, mountains) rather than mediterranean areas featuring oil.
Picasso's Still Life With Biscuits may very well have featured langes de chat. The piped ridges might very well have intrigued Picasso's eye. Still Life with Biscuits (langues de chat on plate on right)is currently owned by the Cleveland Art Museum [OH].
Biscuit definitions & evolution:
"A langue de chat, literally a 'cat's tongue', is a flat thin finger-shaped sweet biscuit with rounded ends, typically served with desserts and sweet wines. Its name no doubt comes from its shape."
---An A-Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 184)
"Langue de chat...In the view of some experts, this biscuit derives its name from its shape--thin, flat and narrow, somewhat like a cat's tongue in appearance. Langes de chat, which are crisp, dry biscuits can be made, or rather flavored, in various ways. Only biscuits made according to the recipe given below, however, can properly be called langues de chat. These biscuits keep for quite a long time and are usually served with certain liqueurs and sparkling wines. They are also served with iced sweets (desserts) and used as an ingredients of various puddings."
---Larousse Gastronomique, Prosper Montagne [Crown Publishers:New York] 1961 (p. 578)
The earliest recipe we have for Langue de chat was published in The Hotel St. Francis Cook Book, 1919. The Hotel St. Francis (San Francisco, California) was a leader in early 20th century American cuisine.
"Langue de chat, I. Work a quarter pound of butter with a quarter pound of sugar until creamy. Then add four eggs, one by one, and keep on working until very smooth. Add a few drops of vanilla extract and a quarter pound of flour, and mix lightly. Put into a pastry bag and spread on a buttered pan in the shape of small lady fingers. Bake for a few minutes in a rather hot oven.
Langue de chat, II. One-quarter pound of sugar, one-quarter pound of butter, one-quarter pound of flour, the whites of three eggs, and a little vanilla flavor. Mix the sugar and butter until creamy; add the whites of eggs that have been well whipped to snow; add the flour and flavoring, and mix lightly. Dress on buttered pan like lady fingers, but smaller. Bake and remove from pan while hot."
---The Hotel St. Francis Cook Book, Victor Hirtzler [Hotel Monthly Press:Chicago] 1919 (p. 179-180)
"Cats' Tongues, or Finger-Biscuits (Langues-de-Chats Fines)
The dough for this kind of cookie varies, but they are always cooked in the same way; it requires the use of thick black steel baking sheets; the cats' tongues will color too much on a thin baking sheet. If possible, it is a good idea to have two baking sheets, so that you can shape the dough on the second while the first is in the oven. Also, you need a pastry bag fitted with a nozzle 1/2 centimeter (3/16 inch) in diameter...If ou do not have one, you can use a large cone of heavy paper, cutting the end to the right diameter. You have to prepare as many cones of paper as the number of times you would need to refill the pastry bag, because these paper cones can be used only once. Time: 1 hour for the preparation. Makes 5 dozen.
125 gram (4 1/2 ounces, 9 tablespoons) of fine butter;
160 grams ( 5 2/3 ounces) of good sifted wheat flour;
140 grams (5 ounces) of confectioners' sugar;
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla powder; 2 egg whites beaten into a snow.
Procedure: Once the flour has been strained through a drum sieve or sifted, mix in the confectioners' sugar and the vanilla powder, then sift everything a second time through the drum sieve onto a stiff sheet of paper. Leave it on the table. Have ready the baking sheets, lightly buttered, as well as the pastry bag or the paper cones. In a terrine large enough to be able to mix the whites, work the mixture as directed...The whisk the egg whites into a snow...Add the prepared flour and sugar to the butter made into a pomade by lightly shaking the sheet of paper above the terrine while mixing with the wooden spoon, without working the dough too much. Finally, incorporate the egg whites beaten into a snow with the movement and care required for this mixture...Immediately afterward, fill the pouch of the paper cone. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheet in little sticks about half the length of a pencil. Leave about 3 centimeters (1 1/8 inches) of space between each little stick, because the dough will spread out a great deal when baking. Then immediately put them into an oven at a good medium heat for 7-8 minutes, until only the edge of the cookies has taken on a lightly brown golden tint. Take the baking sheet out of the oven and loosen the cookies from it by passing the flexible blade of a large knife under them."
---La Bonne Cuisine: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking, Madame E. Saint-Ange, translated and with an introduction by Paul Aratow [Ten Speed Press:Berkeley CA] 2005 (p. 717-8)
[NOTES: (1) Elipse (...)indicates directions to be found on other pages of this book. (2) We have a copy of the original French book. If you would like to see this recipe from that source let us know. Can scan, mail or fax.]
"Langue de chat (Patisserie).--Ce petit gateau est ainsi nomme, disent certains auteurs culinaries, a cause de sa forme plate et allongee qui est, parait-il, semblable a une langue de chat. A vrai dire, il faut mettre une extreme bonne volonte pour trouver que cette patisserie ressemble a une langue de felin domestique, amis n'ayant pas d'autre etymologie a proposer pour justifier cette appellation, nous l'adoptons sans discuter. Les langues de chat, qui appartiennent a la categorie des gateaux secs, se preparent de diverses facons, ou, du moins, peuvent etre partumees diversement. Mais seulement peuvent etre designes sous ce nom les petits gateaux dont ci-apres nous donnons les recettes. Les langues de chat, qui sone des patisseries d'assez longue conservation, se servent surtout comme accompagnement de certains vins de liqueur ou de vins mousseux. On les sert aussi comme accompagnement des entrements glaces et enfin, on les utilise dans la preparation de divers poudings."
---Larousse Gastronomique, Prosper Montagne [Librarie Larousse:Paris] 1938 (p. 637)
[NOTE: This book also offers two recipes for langues de chat: simples and fines.]
The term "bar cookies" or "squares" originated in the 20th century. The earliest examples we find in American cookbooks are from the 1930s [Date bars]. A survey of cookbooks suggests these recipes gained popularity as decades progressed. Food historians do not credit a specific person/place with the invention of "bar cookies." Presumably the practice evolved from earlier recipes, most notably brownies and fudge.
Enter: lemon bars
Lemons are ancient fruits enjoyed in many cultures and cuisines from the beginning of time through present day. The figured prominently in custards, pies, cheesecakes, candies, and baked goods. They were also used to flavor savory dishes (lemon chicken, etc.). Lemon bars (aka Lemon Squares), as we know them today, evolved from Renaissance times. Why? The ingredients provide the answer. This is when shortbread/crust was developed, lemon custard was very popular and sugar was sprinkled on everything. Lemon meringue pie likely served the inspiration.
"Buttery lemon bars. The two components of these luscious bars--shortbread and lemon curd--are old English favorites. But layering the two in a bar cookie is, I believe, a twentieth century innovation. My friend and colleague Joanne Hayes, food editor of County Living magazine, remembers lemon bars being tested while she was at McCall's magazine back in the '60s. Yet the McCall's Cook Book (1963) doesn't include them. Nor do other magazine cookbooks of that time. My hunch is that dessert specialist Maida Hatter popularized lemon bars. Two of her books offer variations on the theme. The more classic-Sour Lemon Squares...appears in Maida Heatter's New Book of Great Desserts (1982)."
---American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997 (p. 499)
"Crunchy Lemon Squares
[About 2 dozen]
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup confectoners' sugar
2 egg yolks
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Cream shortening; gradually add sugar and blend until mixture is light and fluffy. Add egg yolks; mix well. Beat in flour and grated peel. Spread evenly in bottom of ungreased 13 by 9 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees 10 minutes. Remove from oven and spread with topping. To prepare topping, beat egg whites until stiff, then gradually beat in sugar and lemon juice. Fold in nuts. Bake 25 minutes longer. Cool slightly and cut into squares."
---"Try Barbecued Turkey! It's Delicious and Different," Mary Meade, Chicago Daily Tribune, August 15, 1958 (p. B3)
"Serve these cookies with fresh fruit for dessert or with glasses of cold milk or lemonade for snacks.
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup confectioners's sugar
1 cup sifted granulated sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons flour
Cream butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Add 1 cup flour and mix well. Spread in an ungreased pan, 9 by 9 by 2 inches. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Beat sugar into eggs gradually. Add salt and lemon juice. Add sifted baking powder and 2 tablespoons flour; mix thoroly. Spread over crust and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes longer. Cool, dust with confectioners' sugar, and cut into squares. Mrs. Eleanore Mickelson, 3-33 N. 1st st., Milwaukee."
---"Today's $ Favorite Recipe," Chicago Daily Tribune, August 27, 1962 (p. B12)
1 cup Gold Medal Flour
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. Baking powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
2 tbsp. Lemon juice.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. (Mod.). Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting. Blend flour, butter, and confectioners' sugar thoroughly. Press evenly in square pan, 8 X 8 X 2". Bake 20 minutes. Beat rest of the ingredients together. Pour over crust and bake 20 to 25 min. More. Do not overbake! (The filling puffs during baking but flattens when cooled.) Makes 16 squares."
---Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, [General Mills:Minneapolis] 1963 (p. 13)
[NOTES: (1) Photo of Lemon Squares from this book. (2) Even though this recipe is called "squares" it is included in the section on "bar cookies." Traditional bar cookies cooked in a shallow pan and cut after baking. There are also no-bake bar cookies. (3) This book also offers recipes for Coconut Lemon Bars (p. 73) & Lemon Coconut Bars (p.106).]
"Crunchy Lemon Squares
Set out a 13 X 9 X 2-in. Baking pan.
Finely chop and set aside 1/2 cup (about 2 oz.) Pecans
Measure and set aside 1 cup sifted flour
Cream together 1/2 cup shortening, 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
Add gradually, creaming until fluffy after each addition 1/2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
Add gradually, beating thoroughly after each addition 2 egg yolks, beaten
Mixing until well blended after each addition, add flour in fourths to creamed mixture. Spread batter evenly over the bottom of pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. 10 min. Remove to cooling rack.
Meanwhile, beat until frothy 2 egg whites
Add gradually, beating well after each addition 1/2 cup sugar
Continue beating until rounded peaks are formed and egg whites do not slide when bowl is partially inverted.
Fold in the chopped pecans and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
Spread evenly over first payer in pan. Return to oven and bake for 25 min. or until meringue is delicately browned.
Cool and cut into 2-in. Squares."
---The Family Home Cookbook, Culinary Arts Institute[Grosset & Dunlap:New York] 1963 (p. 421)
"Lemon Meringue Bars
This rather rich cooky, good with tea (iced or hot) or with ice cream, is not difficult to make.
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 egg yolks
1 cup sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Put together in a vowl the butter, powdered sugar, egg yolks, flour, salt, and lemon peel. Knead with the hands until the mixture is smooth and the color evenly distributed. Spread in a 10-inch square or 10 by 12-inch ungreased pan, and bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees F.) for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool while making meringue. Beat egg whites until stiff. Add lemon juice, and beat until the meringue stands in peaks. Spread on cooky dough and return to the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until nicely brownded. Cool and cut into bars. Makes about 2 dozen."
---Sunset Adventures in Food, editorial staffs of Sunset Books and Sunset Magazine, Dorothy Kress, editor [Lane Book Company:Menlo Park CA] 1964 (p. 186)
"Sour Lemon Squares
"This recipe comes from a friend in Scottsdale, Arizona. The cookies have a crisp, buttery base and a soft, custardy, sour-lemon topping. They are more delicate than many other cookies and they are fabulous! Make them to serve with tea (especially) or coffee, or serve them as dessert, or along with a fruit or custard dessert. They may be frozen.
3 ounces (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
Adjust a rack to the center of the oven to 350 degrees. To line qan 8 X 8 X 2-inch square pan with foil, turn the pan upside down. Center a 12-inch square of foil over the pan, fold down the sides and coreners to shape it, remove the foil, turn the pan right side up, place the foil in the pan and press it into shape. To buer the foil, put a pices of butter (in addition to what is called for in the recipe) in the pan, place the pan in the oven to melt the butter, and then brush the butter over the bottom and halfway up the sides. Let the pan cool and then place it in the freezer (it is easier to presss the bottom crust into place if the pan is cold). In a small bowl, cream the 3 ounces of butter. Beat in the salt, sugar, and then the flour. (Or you can do this in a food processor: Place the dry ingredients in the bowl, with the steel blade; cut the butter into pieces and add, then process until thoroughly mixed.) If the mixture does not hold together, turn it out onto a work surface and knead it until it does. Place the mixture in mounds (each one about a rounded teaspoonful) over the bottom of the cold pan. Then, with your fingers, press it to make a smooth and firm layer on the bottom only. Bake for about 18 minutes until the crust is lightly colored. Meanwhile, prepare the Lemon Layer.
Finely grated rind of 2 medium-size lemons
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 eggs (graded large, extra large, or jumbo)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
Confectioners sugar (to be sued after the cookies are baked)
In a small cup mix the rind and juice and set aside. In a small bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs well. Add the sugar, flour, and baking powder and beat for 1 minute at high spaeed(see Note). Stir in rind and juice. Pour the lemon mixture over the hot bottom crust. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the top is lightly colored and dry to the touch; when it is done it will feel spongy and custardy, not dry or stiff. Cool completely in the pan and then chill in the freezer for about half and hour. Cover with a small cutting board and turn over the board and the rack or sheet, leaving the cake right side up. The cake will be only about 1/2 inch deep. Use a long, heavy, sharp knife and cut the cake into 16 squares. Wipe the blade after making each cut. Place them on wax paper and strain confectioners sugar generously over the tops. Package these in a shallow box or arrange them on a tray and cover with plastic wrap. These may be refrigerated and served cold or they may be served at room temperature. When they are cold, the lemon layer is more firm and wonderful; when they are at room temperature the lemon layer is softer and wonderful. NOTE: I once made these in a kitchen that did not have an electric mixer or an egg beater. I used a wire whisk, and they were just as good."
---Maida Heatter's New Book of Great Desserts, Maida Heatter [Alfred A. Knopf:New York] 1982 (p. 321-323)
[NOTE: This recipe is accompanied by an illustration of Pillsbury Best brand flour. Pillsbury and Betty Crocker are both General Mills brands.]
If you have to ask "what is a Mallomar?" you didn't grow up in the greater New York area. These chocolate enrobed marshmallow treats are in a class by themselves. According to the record of the records of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, they were introduced to the American public November 20, 1913 by the National Biscuit Company (registration number 0096171). They have been a fall tradition ever since. Why New York and why fall? Nabisco claims its because the product doesn't travel well and chocolate doesn't sell in the warmer months. Whatever. Those of us who still live around the city know it's fall when the Mallomars come back. Sort of like when the swallows return to Capistrano.
This is what the food historians have to say on the subject:
"On November 13, 1913, another famous cookie was born. Mallomar was described as "a delightful combination of marshmallow, jelly and layers of cake covered with chocolate icing." For several years before Mallomar, the company made a product called "Marshmallow Cream Sandwich," It was also convered with chocolate by only sold in bulk. When the formula for Mallomars was perfected, it was decided to make them a specialty and to pack them in the In-er-seal package. Later it, too, was made available in bulk."
---Out of the Cracker Barrel: From Animal Crackers to ZuZus, William Cahn (p. 144)
[NOTE: this book is about the history of the National Biscuit Company/Nabisco--your librarian can help you find a copy.]
The earliest Mallomar advertisment we've found far was published in the 1930s: "Chocolate Mallomars, 2 pkgs, 19 cents," New York Times, November 9, 1934 (p. 15). Our survey of ad placed in historic American newspapers confirms the "seasonality" of this product.
"In a few weeks, a small but fiercely loyal group of consumers will breathe a collective sigh of relief as they again are able to buy their favorite cookie. Following a traditional warm weather hiatus, the first batch of Mallomars cakes have rolled out of the ovens and will soon be on store shelves. Mallomars, for those who have never tried one, consist of a vanilla base cookie topped with a marshmallow dome and coated in dark chocolate. It is the chocolate that accounts for the seasonal nature of the cookie. ''I wish we could produce and sell them year round but the chocolate melts during the summer,'' said Henry Havemeyer, plant manager of the Philadelphia bakery of Nabisco Brands Inc. Havemeyer's facility is the world's only source of Mallomars. So each year, Nabisco halts Mallomars production, usually in late April and generally starts in again in late September. And each year, consumers follow what has become a ritual among Mallomars fans. In a recent letter to Nabisco, a man representing the ''Mallomars Fan Club of South Connecticut'' explained, ''Early in the spring, our members stockpile Mallomars, in their freezers, for the summer months. Sixteen or 18 packages per person seem to be adequate to stave off Mallomars withdrawal until the product reappears in September...'' Mark Kapsky, category business director for the Biscuit Division of Nabisco Brands, said the cookie has achieved almost a cult status among many people. ''Mallomars basically sells itself. We do little advertising or promotion and still sell every cookie,'' Kapsky said. The loyalty consumers have toward the chocolate encased cookie was described by a Florida man in a letter this spring, ''I'm a bit past 40 now and I guess I've been eating Mallomars since I was about 8 years old. At approximately two boxes a week, 18 cakes per, well, that computes to 29,952 already consumed, give or take a couple...'' The majority of Mallomars sales are tallied in the New York metropolitan area and Miami, according to Kapsky. Although available in some additional pockets of the country, since its introduction in 1913 the cookie has been a big seller in places like Brooklyn, N.Y., northern New Jersy and Long Island. The regional nature of the brand accounts for many of the letters the company receives from consumers regarding Mallomars. The author typically is a person who moved from the New York area and cannot find the cookie in his or her new city.... This past spring, however, Kapsky said the company received hundreds of unexpected complaints. A sales surge in March and April meant that when people went to buy their summer stash, there were few bright yellow boxes of Mallomars to be had. And when they're gone in April, they're gone until production resumes in September..."
--- "Mallomars make fall debut," Business Wire, October 20, 1987
Of course, there is ALWAYS the "other" side of the story:
The Cookie Crumbles," Gersh Kutzman, Newsweek, Oct. 7, 2002
Do you remember eating Mallomars in the summer?
Today's food writers happily perpetuate the myth of the Mallomar season. It makes good copy. It is true that today's Mallomars are introduced in September/October. Production ceases in March/April. The product lingers in the supermarket for a while then disappears from the shelves altogether. The reason offered by the company is that the chocolate covering is delicate and cannot survive hot summer months. Was it always this way? No. Our research confirms not only were Mallomars sold in the summer, they were sold all over the country. Up until recently. Mallomar nostalgia articles proliferate in the 1980s-1990s. This is about the time we find first print references to this product's seasonality. Coincidence?
Case in point:
"Visiting day at summer cam is usually the first weekend in July, and camps will soon be sending out the standard instructions: DO NOT BRING FOOD ON VISITING DAY, ALL FOOD PACKAGES WILL BE CONFISCATED...The problem is that kids have an emotional strangle hold on parents when it comes to food packages. The parent writes, 'The camp director says that we cannot bring food.' The child responds, 'So how come Jimmy's mother is bringing up a carton of Mallomars?'...As the last parent leaves camp it's time to divide the loot. Each camper opens his carton...After the opening begins the trading, and here you must remember that you can't trade sunflower seeds for Mallomars. M & M's trade for Mallomars. So do Milky Ways--the small kind."
---"Invasion from Mallomars," Leonard S. Bernstein, New York Times, June 27, 1976 (p. 355)
How much did Mallomars cost?
"Mallomars, 15 cents," Anniston Star, Alabama, October 12, 1919 (p. 12)
"Mallomars, 4 pkgs, 50 cents," New Castle News, Pennsylvania, July 27, 1921 (p. 11)
"Mallomars, 3 pkgs, 25 cents," Port Arthur News, Texas, November 9, 1928 (p. 12)
"Mallomars, 2 pkgs, 19 cents," Galveston Daily News, Texas, June 4, 1938 (p. 18)
"Chocolate Mallomars, 4 oz pkg, 16 cents," Lawton Constitution, Oklahoma, January 15, 1948 (p. 8)
""N.B.C. Chocolate Mallomars, 5 1/4 oz pkg, 29 cents," Los Angeles Times, June 26, 1952 (p. 10)
"Mallomars, 5 1/4 oz pkg, 39 cents," Fairbanks Daily News Miner, Alaska, October 19, 1955 (p. 16)
"Chocolate Mallomars, 5 1/2 oz pkg, 25 cents," Middleboro Daily News, Kentucky, March 14, 1956 (p. 9)
"Nabisco Mallomars, 5 1/4 oz pkg, 29 cents," Fort Pierce News-Tribune, Florida, November 10, 1957 (p. 20)
"Chocolate Mallomars, 8 oz box, 33 cents," Galveston Daily News, Texas, March 21 , 1964 (p. 10)
"Nabisco Mallomars, 8 oz twin pack, 29 cents," New York Times, May 1, 1968 (p. 51)
"Mallomars, 8 oz pkg, 49 cents," News Tribune, Ft. Pierce, Florida, December 13, 1972 (p. 36)
"Delicious Mallomars, 7 oz twin pack, 41 cents," New York Times, June 27, 1973 (p. 55)
Mexican wedding cakes & Russian tea cakes
According to several food history sources and cookbooks, Mexican wedding cakes and Russian tea cakes (aka Biscochitos/Mexico, Tea cakes/Sweden, Melting Moments /Australia, Mandulas kiflik/Bulgaria, Biscochos/Cuba, Kourabi‚des/Greece, Polvorones/Italy & Spain, Rohlichky/Ukraine and Sand Tarts, Sandies, Butterballs & Moldy Mice/United States) are a universal holiday cookie-type treat. This means this recipe is not necessarily connected to any one specific country. It IS connected with the tradition of saving rich and expensive food (the richest butter, finest sugar, choicest nuts) for special occasions.
Food historians trace the history of these cookies and cakes to Medieval Arab cuisine, which was rich in sugar. Small sugar cakes with nuts (most often almonds) and spices were known to these cooks and quickly adopted by the Europeans. This sweet culinary tradition was imported by the Moors to Spain, diffused and assimilated throughout Europe, then introduced to the New World by 16th century explorers. Sugar cookies, as we know them today, made their appearance in th 17th century. About sugar. Recipes called Mexican wedding cakes descend from this tradition. They first appear in American cookbooks in the 1950s.
"...in looking for the roots of Spanish food traditions one must go back to the Phoenicians, who founded the city now called Cadiz in 1100BC; the ancient Greeks, and the Carthaginians...and more important, the Romans who used Spain as a major source of food, especially wheat and olive oil...Introductions by the Arabs were also of fundamental importance for Spain's future. They are particularly associated with the use of almonds (the essential ingredient for so many Spanish desserts, baked goods, and confectionery items); with the introduction of citrus fruits (including the lemon and the bitter (Seville) orange, without which British marmalade would never have been born); sugar cane and the process of refining sugar from its juice..."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 741)
"...the Spanish sweet tooth is gratified by a range of dessert wines and liqueurs and special-occasion candies, some of almost Oriental sugariness. Almonds and honey are included in many of them Turron, or nougat, white or dark, soft or brittle, is exceedingly more-ish and is now a big industry in Jijona. The Arabic influences in candy-making are pronounced and candies such as amarguillos date from Moorish times...In the Spanish kitchen, milk and cream are commandeered for desserts, particularly in the north...The national dessert...is caramel custard, called flan."
---Recipes from a Spanish Village, Pepita Aris [Simon & Schuster:New York] 1990 (p. 124)
These typical Spanish holiday cookies are of Arab origin, but just about every country in the Western world has some version of a sugar cookie. Sevilla is famous for its cookies, but they are also found throughout Spain. Although often made with lard, butter produces a finer cookie."
---The Foods and Wines of Spain, Penelope Casas [Knopf:New York] 1982 (p. 745)
"Sevillian sweetmeats are the most popular in all of Spain. The art of Sevillian baking has enjoyed great fame ever since Renaissance times, although in fact it goes back to the Arabs, whose passion for honey, almonds and pine kernels is still very evident in today's sweets. Sevillian master bakers produce a wide range of delicacies, including tortas de aceite (very flat, round, flaky cakes), which originated in nearby Castilleja de la Cuesta, and polvorones (sweet, crumbly, almond cakes), which are first recorded as being made in Estepa."
Polvorones translated into biscochitos once they settled in Mexico. The traditional Seville orange flavor eventually subsided.
"Biscochitos (Spanish cookies)
Biscochitos are a "new world" food with "old world" roots. Introduced to Mexico by Spanish explorers in the 16th century, their true origin can be traced to Medieval Arabian cuisine. When the Moors invaded Seville, they brought this recipe with them. Biscochitos (known in many countries/cusines by different names) are traditionally associated with holiday feasts; most notably Christmas. Variations on this recipe are endless. Orange juice/rind is probably one of the oldest...Seville is/was famous for oranges. Chokeberries (Aronia melanocarpa) are "new world" foods.
Biscochitos are made from rich pie pastry dough. Add baking powder, 1 tsp. Cleaned anize seed, & sugar to sweeten. Roll on bread board 1/3 inch thick. Cut into long strips about 1 2/3 inches wide, and then across into 2 inch lengths. Cut little narrow strips about an inch long on sides, pull long, and roll back each strip into a curlicue; dip in sugar and bake."
---The Genuine New Mexico Tasty Recipes, Cleofas M. Jaramillo, Unabridged reprint of Seton Village Press edition, 1942 [Ancient City Press: Santa Fe NM] 1981 (p. 23)
Did you know? The bizcochito is the official cookie of New Mexico!
12-3-4. J. The bizcochito is adopted as the official cookie of New Mexico. 1989, ch. 154, 1; . Recipe here.
MEXICAN WEDDING CAKES
The cookie is old, the name is new. Food historians place the first recipes named "Mexican wedding cakes" in the 1950s. Why the name? Our books and databases offer no explanations. Perhaps timing is everything? Culinary evidence confirms Mexican wedding cakes are almost identical to Russian Tea Cakes. During the 1950s and 1960s relations between Russia and the United States were strained. It is possible the Cold War provided the impetus for renaming this popular cookie. Coincidentally? This period saw the mainstreaming of TexMex cuisine into American culture.
"Mexican wedding cake. A buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cookie that's usually ball-shaped and generally contains finely chopped almonds, pecans or hazelnuts. It's usually rolled in confectioners' sugar while still hot, then again after the cookie has cooled. Many countries have their own rendition of this rich cookie. Two versions are Russian tea cakes and Spain's polvornes."
---Food Lover's Companion, Sharon Tyler Herbst, 3rd edition [Barron:New York] 2001 (p. 385)
"Mexican wedding cakes. These cookies masquerade under several names--Butterballs, Russian Tea Cakes, Swedish Tea Cakes, Moldy Mice. "Butterballs" is easy enough to explain--these little balls are buttery--but I have no idea how they came by their other pseudonyms. The are also known sometimes as Pecan Sandies, although true sandies are nearer shortbread. Mexican Wedding Cakes were a community cookbook staple throughout the 50s and 60s..."
---American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Foods of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997 (p. 481)
[NOTE: Ms. Anderson provides a recipe in her book.]
"Cookies continue to outnumber all other recipe requests in our reader mail. Most in demand of late is a rich, semi-sweet butter cooky that is made in many countries and has many names and variations. In America it is best known as Nut Butter Balls or Almond Crescents. Mexican Wedding Cakes, Russian Tea Cakes, Danish Almond Cookies and Finnish Butter Strips are other titles for cookies made with the same basic dough. Still other names such as Napolean Hats, Melting Moments and Filbert Jelly Fills come from variation in shaping the cookies."
---"Recipe: How Cooky Is Put Together," Los Angeles Times, December 3, 1964 (p. G21)
"Polvorones (Mexican Tea Cakes)
1 cup butter
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 1/4 cups sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Confectioners sugar for rolling
---Elena's Famour Mexican and Spanish Recipes, Elena Zelayeta [Dettners Printing House:San Francisco] 1944 (p. 116)
"Mexican Wedding Cakes
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream butter with sugar. Add flour gradually, beating well after each addition. Add nuts and vanilla and blend. Shape into crescents, place on an ungreased cooky sheet. Bake in slow oven (325 degrees F.) for 15 to 18 minutes. Approximate yield: 4 dozen crescents. Crisp little things, ready to break in the mouth, melting richly on the tongue."
---"Quick-as-a-Wink Dishes," Clementine Paddleford, Los Angeles Times, April 29, 1951 (p. G27)
"Mexican Wedding Cakes (a variation of Nut Butter Balls)
Nut Butter Balls
1 cup soft butter or margarine
1/4 to 1/2 cup granulated or confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract; or 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 to 2 cups finely chopped or ground walnuts, pecans, almonds, black walnuts, Brazil nuts, or filberts.
Mix butter with sugar until very light and fluffy. Add salt, extract, flour, nuts; mix well. Refrigerate until easy to handle. Start heating oven to 350 degrees F. Shape dough into 1" balls or 1" to 2" X 1/2" rolls, triangles, or crescents. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. (Or drop by level tablesoonfuls onto cookie sheet.) Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until light brown. While cookies are warm, roll in granulated or confectoners' sugar, fine cookie crumbs, or cinnamon and sugar. Makes 4 to 5 dozen.
Mexican Wedding Cakes: With bottom of tumbler dipped into flour, flatten each 1" ball. Bake at 325 degrees F. 12 minutes. While cookies are warm, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar."
---Good Housekeeping Cook Book, Dorothy B. Marsh editor [Good Housekeeping Book Division:New York] 1955 (p. 479)
[NOTE: this book does not contain a recipe for Russian Tea Cakes.]
"Russian Teacakes, Crunchy, sugared, nut-filled snowballs
This favorite with men came to us from a man. Carl Burkland, an eastern radio executive, often makes them himself at Christmastime.
Mix thoroughly...1 cup soft butter, 1/2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift together and stir in....2 1/4 cups sifted Gold Medal Flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix in...3/4 cup finely chopped nuts
Chill dough. Roll into 1" balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet (cookies to not spread). Bake until set, but not brown. While still warm, roll in confectioners' sugar. Cool. Roll in sugar again.
Temperature: 400 degrees F. (Mod. Hot oven).
Time: Bake 10 to 12 minutes
---Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book, Revised and Enlarged, Second Edition (Third Printing) [McGraw-Hill Book Company:New York] 1956 (p. 220)
Melting Moments appears to be an Australian contribution
1/2 lb. cornflour, 6 oz. butter, 3 oz. castor sugar, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon baking powder. Beat the butter and sugar to a cream, add the eggs, then stir in slowly the cornflour and baking powders sifted together. Bake in patty tins for 15 minutes."
---The Schauer Cookery Book, improved Australian and sixth Edition [W.R. Smith & Paterson Ltd.:Brisbane Queensland] 1928 (p. 441) [NOTE: the 1956 edition of this book does not include a recipe for Melting Moments. It offers, instead, a recipe for Melters which also includes cornstarch.]
"Shortbreard Kisses (Melting Moments)
4 oz Butter
2 oz. Flour
2 oz. Cornflour
1 oz. Icing Sugar
1 level teaspoon Baking Powder
Butter cake method...With a teaspoon of biscuit forcer put in small piles on baking-tray. Place small piece of angelica or preserved cherry on each. Bake in slow oven (325 degrees) 10-15 minutes."
Whitcombe's Every Day Cookery [Whitcome & Tombes Ltd., Australia] 303rd Thousand, undated (probably 1950s?) p. 224
"IMMEDIATELY apparent in Stephanie Alexander's new book, Recipes My Mother Gave Me, is the sense of family tradition. Many of the recipes are taken from her mother Mary Burchett's book, Through My Kitchen Door, published in 1960. Melting Moments, Peach Melba, Battered Steak with Peas, Cabbage Rolls and Lemon Butter are stand outs. Since Alexander's decision to close her internationally recognised and award-winning restaurant, Stephanie's, at the end of this year, Alexander has opened the Richmond Hill Cafe and Larder in the inner Melbourne suburb of Richmond. It is in this informal setting, between sips of peppermint tea, that she speaks about the importance of passing recipes on from one generation to another. "I believe there is a lack of cooking skills which is not one generation deep but I think it is at least two generations deep. For the mothers of most of today's teenagers, and even perhaps a little older, they don't know how to cook. They have abandoned their mother's traditions...If Recipes My Mother Gave Me is to have lasting influence, it may not necessarily and perhaps surprisingly be due to the recipes it contains.Although showing how the handing down of recipes in a family can offer lasting pleasures, the book's wider significance may be that it prompts readers to preserve their own recipes for posterity and passing on."
--- "Taste for tradition," C. BANTICK, Courier Mail (Queensland, Australia), November 26, 1997, LIFE; Pg. 31
"Melting Moments is another delicious cooky. As the name implies, these cookies are so rich with butter that they do melt in the mouth. Cornstarch, another ingredient, also contributes to the tenderness of these cookies for which Mrs. Paley gave the following recipe:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of salt.
1. Cream the butter. Gradually stir in the sugar and beat untl light in color.
2. Sift flour. Measure, add cornstarch and sift again. Add to butter mixture. Add remaning ingredients and mix until well blended.
3. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased cooky sheet and bake in a moderate ofen (350 degrees) for fifteen minutes or until the cookies are a pale golden color. Yield: About two dozen cookies."
---"Food News: Australian Schools, Teach Cooking," June Owen, New York Times, June 3, 1961 (p. 14)
Sometimes called Mexican Wedding Cakes
1 cup butter or sifted margarine
1/2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 1/4 cups Gold Medal Flour
1/4 tsp. Salt
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts
Mix butter, sugar, and vanilla thoroughly. Measure flour by dipping method...or by sifting. Stir flour and salt together; blend in. Mix in nuts. Chill dough. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. (Mod.hot). Roll dough in 1" balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet. (Cookies do not spread.) Bake 10 to 12 min., or until set but not brown. While still warm, roll in confectioners' sugar. Cool. Roll in sugar again. Makes about 4 doz. 1" cookies. Note: Do not used Gold Medal Self-Rising Flour in this recipe."
---Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, General Mills, facsimile 1963 edition [Hungry Minds:New York] 2002 (p. 25)
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup sifted flour
3-4 cup corn oil margarine
Sift corn starch, confectioners sugar and flour together into a mixing bowl. Blend in corn oil margarine with spoon, mixing until soft dough forms. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 1/2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet; flatten with slightly floured fork. Sprinkle with coconut. Bake in 300 degrees F. (slow) oven 20 to 25 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Makes about 2 dozen cookes. CHOCOLATE MELTING MOMENTS: Follow recipe for Melting Moments, sifting 1/54 cup cocoa and 1/4 teaspoon salt with dry ingredients, and placing a nut on top of each cookie before baking."
---"Choose Desserts the Sing 'The Praises of Spring," Chicago Daily Defender, April 16, 1964 (p. 28)
A survey of historic American recipes indicates sand tarts, as we know them today, may have descended from simple sugar cookies. Recipes with this name first surface in the the 1880s, without attribution (person/place/company/contest) or comment. They are popular Christmas cookies in the Scandinavian counties: Sandbakkelser (Denmark) and Sandbakelse (Sweden). Food historians do not offer definative information regarding the genesis of the recipe's name. Perhaps it was inspired by the gritty granlated sugar and cinnamon covering the finished product? German/Viennese sand tortes (a sponge-type pound cake) contain somewhat similar ingredients.
1 pound of granulated sugar
Yolks of three eggs
1/2 pound of butter
Whites of two eggs
Flour enough to make a stiff paste
Beat the butter and sugar together; add the yolks beaten to a cream, then the whites well beaten; mix all well together, and add the flour. Roll out on a baking-board, cut with a round cutter, and bake in a moderate oven until a light brown."
---Mrs. Rorer's Philadelphia Cook Book, Mrs. S.T. Rorer [Arnold and Company:Philadelphia] 1886 (p. 498)
"Sand tarts, Boston Cooking School Cook Book, Fannie Merritt Farmer
Stir to a cream one cu putter and a cup and a half of sugar. Add three eggs, whites and yolks beaten separately, one tablespoonful water, and a half teaspoonful of baking pwder sifted with enouth flour to make stiff enough to roll. Roll thin, on a floured board, cut in squares, sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top and bake."
---"Domestic Science," Emma Paddock Telford, Los Angeles Times, July 14, 1907 (p. VII2)
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar.
2 cups sifted flour.
2 teaspoons baking powder.
1/4 teaspoon salt.
1 teaspoon cinnamon.
3 tablespoons granulated sugar.
Halved almonds or pecans.
Cream together the butter and brown sugar, and add the well-beated egg. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and add to the first mixture. On a lightly floured board make a roll of the dough about 3 inches in diameter. Wrap in waxed paper and let stand for several hours or overnight in a cold place. In the morning slice wafer thin with a sharp knife, and sprinkle with a mixture of the cinnamon and granulated sugar. Press a nut in the center of each cookie. Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees F.) For about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Store in air-tight containers."
---Aunt Sammy's Radio Recipes Revised, Bureau of Gome Economics, U.S. Department of Agriculture [United States Government Printing Office:Washington DC] 1931 (p. 119)
Russian tea cakes
The typical Russian Tea Cake recipe calls for butter, eggs, flour, salt, vanilla, nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts) and confectioner's sugar. This particular combination of ingredients essentially dates back to the Jumbles baked in Medieval Europe (minus the vanilla).
Noble Russian cuisine (along with every other facet of noble life) was influenced by prevailing French customs during the 18th century. Tea was first introduced to Russia in 1618, but the Russian tea ceremony of samovars and sweet cakes was a legacy of Francophile Catherine the Great in the 18th century. It is interesting to note that A Gift to Young Housewives, Elena Molokhovet [1870s popular Russian cookbook] contains plenty of recipes for a variety of small baked goods, none specifically entitled Russian tea cakes. There are, however, several recipes which use similar ingredients. If you want to examine these recipes you are in luck. Gift fo a Young Housewife has recently been reprinted [in English with extensive notes provided by Joyce Toomre] by Indiana University Press (1992). Your librarian can borrow a copy for you.
If you want to contribute sweet treats for a traditional Russian tea ask your librarian to help you find The Art of Russian Cuisine, Anne Volokh. If you need something right now check out these recipes.
About Russian tea
Canadian Nanaimo bars descend from no-bakes, popular from the 1930s forward. Economical & delicious; combinations are endless. About No-bakes
What are Nanaimo bars?
"Nanaimo bar is a baked treat popular all across Canada, often as little cut squares of biscuit alternating with a sweet cream filling and covered with chocolate. They may have been first concocted in the city of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. A number of local native bands amagamated in the mid-19th century, calling their union sne-ny-mo, or 'big, strong tribe.' "
---Canadian Food Words, Bill Casselman [MacArthur Company:Toronto ON] 1998 (p. 271)
Our survey of historic recipes confirms several variations on the Nanaimo theme. The earliest print recipe we find for this tasty morsel was published in the mid- 1950s. USA newspapers commence reporting Nanaimo bars a decade later.
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups graham wafer crumbs
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Place softened butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla and egg in bowl. Set the bowl in a dish of boiling water. Stir well until butter has melted and mixture remsembles thin custard. Combine graham wafer crumbs, coconut and nuts, blending well. Add in custard mixture. Pack evenly in 9-inch square pan, spread with icing. Icing--Cream 1/4 cup butter, add 2 tablespoons milk which has been combined with 2 tablespoon vanilla custard powder. Blend in 2 cups icing sugar. Spread over chocolate base, and let stand about 15 minutes or so to harden somewhat. Then melt 4 squares semi-sweet chocolate with 1 tablespoon butter and spread over custard icing. When set, cut into bars."
---"The Herald's Daily Recipe," Lethbridge Herald [Alberta CA], January 18, 1954 (p. 11)
"Recipes have a way of becoming lost when not kept in a book or file. We have gathered together some of the most popular misplaced bar-cookie recipes...The Nanaimo Bars are not baked. They have a chocolate base and a white icing with custard powder. Originally the thin chocolate icing was made with semi-sweet chocolate. There is a sweet cooking chocolate on the market now and we tried it as a topping and liked it better than the semi-sweet. However, you may melt one cup semi-sweet chocolate bits with the butter and spread it on. Other names for the bars are Chocolate Slice, Unbaked Chocolate Slice and Custard Brownies but the recipes are all the same.
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups graham wafer crumbs
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
special frosting<<br> Place butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla and eggs in bowl. Place over bowl of boiling water. Stir until butter is melted and mixture resembles custard. Combine crumbs, coconut and nuts. Add to custard mixture. Pack in ungreased 9X9X2-inch pan. Spread with Special Frosting. Cool and when set cut in small squares. Yield: 36 squares.
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
2 cups sifted icing sugar
4 squares sweet chocolate
1 tablespoon butter.
Cream butter. Mix milk and custard powder; add to creamed mixture. Blend in icing sugar. Spread on chocolate bars. Let stand 20 minutes. Melt sweet chocolate and butter over hot water. Spread over custard mixture. Cover pan. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve."
---"Cookie Bars and Squares Sweeet, Easy and Popular, Norah Cherry, Winnipeg Free Press, February 5, 1962 (p. 13)
"'As a pastor's wife in Canada, I was served these Nanaimo Bars,' writes Mrs. Jane Sandberg. 'They are very easy to make as they are not baked but chilled. They are a rich and delicious dessert.'
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp. instant vanilla pudding mix
2 tbsp. milk
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
3 sq. semi-sweet chocolate
1 tbsp. butter
Melt 1/2 cup butter in saucepan. Blend in granulated sugar, cocoa, vanilla, egg, crunmbs, coconut and nuts. Press mixture into a 9-in. square pan. Cream 1/4 cut butter until light and add dry pudding mix, milk and confectioners' sugar, blending well. Spread mixture on top of crumb mixture and chill thoroughly. Melt chocolate with 1 tbsp. butter, stirring to blend. Spread over chilled mixture. Chill, then cut into bars."
---"Nanaimo Bars Make Cool Dessert," Los Angeles Times, July 8, 1965 (p. D12)
"The authors of The Best of Bridge decided they wanted a cookbook that was both informative and entertaining. So the eight Calgary women, remembers of the bridge club that met weekly, spiced their book...with jokes and riddles to encourage a few chuckles from the cooks in the kitchen. They also included their favorite recipes, collected from friends and relatives over the years...[including] george (commonly known as Nanaimo Bars)...The recipe for George came to the group by way of a friend's mother... Whenever she made her squares, the children would always say 'This is real George, mom,' an expression meaning 'teriffic.'
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 beaten egg
2 cups graham water crumbs
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Combine, put in nine-inch square pan and chill for 1/2 hour.
2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup cream or milk
2 tablespoons custard powder
Conbine all ingredients, beating until smooth and fluffy. Then spread carefully on top of first layer.
3 chocolate squares (sweet or semi-sweet)
1/4 cup butter, melted
Melt chocolate and butter together, then spread over second layer and chill."
---"Cookbook spiced with jokes, riddles," Lethbridge Herald [Alberta] April 7, 1977 (p. 40)
Food historians tell us unbaked confections composed of nuts, dried fruit, seeds and sweeteners were made by ancient Middle eastern cooks. "No bake" (cookies, squares, bars, balls), as we Americans know them today, surfaced in cookbooks published during the Great Depression. Like their ancient counterparts, contemporary "No bakes" contain dried/desiccated fruit, nuts, and/or seeds glued together with a sugar (honey, Karo) or fat (cream cheese, peanut butter, butter, margarine). No bake cookies (generally pressed into a pan and cut in squares/bars) descend from the same tradition. These recipes appear in the 1950s. The primary difference between bake and no bake' recipes (besides the obvious oven time, of course!) is the "no bakes" do not contain eggs or flour. They are not intended to rise.
A brief survey of American "no bake" recipes through time
Stone: 1 pound dates, or use 1/2 pound seeded dates Put them through a food chopper with: 1 cup chopped pecan meats Add: 1/4 teaspoon salt Shape the candy into tiny balls. Roll them in: Powdered sugar."
Remove the seeds from: 1 pound dates, or use 1/2 pound seeded dates Cut the stems from 1 pound dried figs Put these ingredients thorugh the coarsest cutter of a meat grinder with: 1 pound seeded raisins, 1 pound pecan meats, 1/3 pound crystallized ginger Shape these ingredients into balls. Roll them in: Powdered sugar.
---The Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer [Bobbs-Merrill:Indianapolis IN] 1936 (p. 543)
"Fruit Cookies (Unbaked)
1 lb. raisins
1 lb. figs
1 lb. dates
1 lb. cooked prunes
1 c. nuts
1 lb. graham crackers
2 tb. lemon juice
2 tb. honey
Grind fruit and nuts; add lemon juice and honey. Mix thoroughly and make into roll. Keep in refrigerator. Serve thin slices."
---Granddaugher's Inglenook Cookbook [Bretheren Publishing House:Elgin IL] 1942 (p. 51)
2 Cups Raisins
1 Cup Mixed Nuts
1/4 Cup Honey
Grind raisins and nuts. Mix with honey and press into sheet 1/2 inch thick. Cover, and place weight on top for 24 hours. Cut in bars. Roll in white or colored coconut."
"Raisin Peanut Balls
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
1 Cup Raisins
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
1/2 Cup Shredded Coconut
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
Plumb raisins by steaming. Drain and chop. Roll coconut into fine pieces. Toast to a light brown in moderate oven (370 degrees F.). Mix peanut butter, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, salt, and raisins. Blend thoroughly. Shape into small balls. Roll in toasted coconut."
---Searchlight Recipe Book, Ida Migliaria, et al [Household:Topeka KA] 1952 (p. 81)
"No-Bake Cookie Balls
1 pkg. Semisweet chocolate pieces (1 cup)
3 tablesp. White corn syrup
3 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 teasp. instant coffee
1/3 cup hot water
1 3/4 cups finely crushed packaged vanilla wafers (about 3 doz.)
1/2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar.
In double boiler over hot, not boiling, water, melt chocolate; remove from heat. Mix in syrup, 3 cups sugar, nuts, coffee dissolved in hot water, wafer crumbs. Form into 1" balls. Roll in 1/2 cup sugar. Store in covered container a day or so to ripen. Makes about 5 doz."
---Good Housekeeping Cook Book, Dorothy B. Marsh [Good Housekeeping:New York] 1962 (p. 480)
[NOTE: It is interesting to note mid-1950s "no bake" recipes typically employ popular packaged/processed items. Perhaps the idea was a timely treat promoted by food companies? The earliest mention we find for "no bake" cookies was printed in the Good Housekeeping Cook Book, 1962 (copyright 1955).]
Holiday Apricot Balls
1 pkg. (8 oz.) dried apricots, ground or finely cut
2 1/2 cups flaked coconut
3/4 sweetened condensed milk
1 cup finely chopped nuts
Blend apricots, coconut, and milk well. Shape in small balls. Roll in chopped nuts. Let stand about 2 hr. to firm. Makes about 5 doz. balls."
---Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, facsimile 1963 edition [Hungry Minds:New York] 2002 (p. 135)
Oatmeal cookies, as we Americans know them today, descend from ancient bannocks and oatcakes known to peoples of the British Isles. The raisins, nuts, and spices commonly found in today's oatmeal cookies date to the Middle Ages. Oats, and their recipes, were introduced to the New World by European explorers in the 17th century. In 19th century America, oats were considered health foods. They were recommended to invalids and served as hearty breakfast fare (mush/porridge). Culinary evidence confirms the crossover from "health food" to confection occured around the turn of the 20th century. Several other popular American foods made the same leap at this juncture (thanks to corporate America): breakfast cereal and chocolate pudding among them.
Oats & oatmeal
"Oats...The first traces of cultivation...date from about 1000 BC in Central Europe. However, the Greeks and Romans of classical times were unimpressed, regarding oats as coarse, barbarian fare; and the Romans used them mainly as animal fodder, but did foster the growing of oats in Britain, where they were to become important as a food for human beings. Indeed, they became the principal cereal in Wales and, even more markedly, in Scotland...There seems to be an affinity between oats and people of Celtic origin."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University:Oxford] 1999 (p. 547)
"The cereal grass which produces the seeds called oats originated as a weed in wheat and barley fields, which was accidentally harvested with the main crop. In due course it came to be cultivated in its own right in northern Europe, and was introduced to Britain in the Iron Age. The Romans knew of it (their word for it was avena...), but only as a weed, or as a fodder plant--although Pliny, anticipating Dr. Johnson, mentions that the Germanic peoples made porridge with it. The word oat, which is a descendant of Old English ate, is a pure English term, with no known relatives in other languages. The remaining Germanic languaves have interrelated names for the plant...Oatmeal, the term for flour made from oats, was coined in the fifteenth century."
---An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 229)
[NOTE: Oatmeal, ground oats mixed with milk/cream, descends from ancient pottage. These econmical, nutritious, belly-filling dishes provided energy needed by hard working people.]
"Oatcakes made from oats (in the form of oatmeal), salt, and water, sometimes with a little fat added, were the staple food of the inhabitants of the Pennines and the Lake District in England and of the Scottish Highlands for centuries. In these upland regions oats are the only cereal which will ripen in the cold wet climate. Oatcakes...were also of some importance in Wales and Ireland. They remain popular, and are now generally regarded as a Scottish specialty...Oatcakes had some importance as festive foods, especially at Beltane (1 May, and ancient Celtic festival) and Christmas."
---Oxford Companion to Food (p. 546)
"There is evidence that oats were quite qidely grown in Anglo-Saxon England, on athylle (on oat hill) is recorded in 779...The bishop of Worcester's oat land is mentioned in a boundary charter of 984. However, oats do not feature in dues and rents as wheat and barley do...oats may have been used for human consumption: while Pliny was not complimentary about oats he noted they were made into porridge in Germany. Giraldus was perhaps sensationalising matters when he commented that the whole population of Wales lived almost entirely on oats. In times of dearth they may have been utilized quite generally, but they could have been a staple crop in aras with damp, acid soils."
---A Second Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food and Drink: Production and Distribution, Ann Hagen [Anglo-Saxon Books:Wilton UK] 1995 (p. 23)
[NOTE: This book contains much information about oats. Ask your librarian how to obtain a copy.]
"Myths of oats have much in common with myths of wheat, barley, rye, corn, and other cereal grains. Grains generally were associated with fertility of the earth and soil, and served as symbols of the earth's renewal."
---Nectar and Ambrosia: An Encyclopedia of Food in World Mythology, Tamra Andrews [ABC-CLIO:Santa Barbara CA] 2000 (p. 161)
"Oats were introduced to North America by early European explorers including Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, who planted them on Elizabeth Island off the Massachusetts coast. The Dutch grew oats in New Netherlands by 1626, and they were cultivated in Virginia prior to 1648. Oats were generally grown throughout colonial America, mainly for animal feed, but Scottish, Dutch, and other immigrants used them in their traditional porridges, puddings, and baked goods. Hannah Glasse's Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1747 and subsequent editions)...includes oats in recipes for haggis, flummery, and hasty and other puddings, as well as for cake. Similar recipes were published in America throught the nineteenth century. Other oat recipes published in the United States included Scotch burgoo, an oatmeal hasty pudding in which the rolled oats were stirred into boiling water until the mixture thickened; gruel, which was a thinner porridge frequently identified as invalid food; and oatmeal blancmange. Baked goods included Scottish and English oaten cakes baked on a griddle, muffins made from cold cooked oatmeal, and bread and biscuits, for which the oatmeal was usually mixed with flour, because on its own, oatmeal or oat flour does not develop enough gluten to support rising bread. By the nineteenth century, grocer stores sold oat products in bulk...In 1877, rolled oats were developed and trademarked by Henry D. Seymour and William Heston, who had established the Quaker Mill Company. The product was baked in cardboard boxes...In 1901, the Quaker Mill Company merged with other mills, and became the Quaker Oats Company. Directions for cooking oatmeal were printed on the outside of the Quaker box. These recipes, in turn, were reprinted in community and other cookbooks, and oatmeal became more popular as a cooking ingredient. During the twentieth century many new oatmeal recipes were published, including ones for soup, cakes, cookies, wafers, drops, maracroons, quick breads and yeast breads, muffins, scones, and pancakes. Oatmeal was also used as a filler and binder in meatloaf..."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 2 (p. 208)
"Rolled otats, or Oatflakes were developed in America by the Quaker Oat Company in 1877 and are made by steaming and rolling pinhead oatmeal."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 547)
Oats as American health food
-  Ella Eaton Kellogg's (wife of John Harvey Kellogg of Battle Creek fame) Science in the Kitchen  (page through for additional information)
 Quaker Oats Company history
-  Oatmeal entry from Artemis Ward's Grocer's Encyclopedia
So? Where do oatmeal cookies (as we know them today) fit in?
"The first recipe I've found for oatmeal cookies appears in the original Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer (1896). Nineteenth century, to be sure. But just barely (in fact they were barely oatmeal cookies, containing only half a cup). I include oatmeal cookies here because they did not begin routinely appearing in cookbooks until the twentieth century."
---The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997 (p. 482)
Ms. Farmer's 1896 oatmeal cookie recipe.
Dani Shaneyfelt, historical interpreter at Stuhr Museum [Grand Island, NE], sent us two additional period recipes. Both employ substantial amounts of oatmeal.
1 cup lard.
1 cup brown sugar.
1 cup molasses.
2 cups fine oatmeal.
1 teaspoon soda, dissolved in
2/3 cup boiling water.
1 teaspoon salt.
1 tablespoon ginger.
White flour for stiff batter.
Drop in little pats in a greased dripping-pan."
---Mrs. Owen’s Cook Book and Useful Household Hints, Mrs. Frances E. Owens, Revised and Illustrated [Owens Publishing Company:Chicago] Copyright 1884-1885 (p. 265)
Three cups oatmeal (fine), 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup water, 1/3 cup lard, 1/3 cup butter, 1/2 tea-spoon salt, 1/2 tea-spoon soda; make thick with white flour, roll very thin and bake a nice brown.
Theresa J. Cochran, Alternate Lady Manager World’s Fair, Groton, Vermont."
The Home Queen Cook Book, [Fort Dearborn Publishing:Chicago] 1898 (p. 367)
Period cookbooks suggest Oatmeal cookies (with or without raisins & nuts) were THE most popular home-made cookie in 1913. Cookbooks offer not one, but several, oatmeal cookie recipes. No other cookie commanded similar attention. This makes perfect sense in historic American context. Commerical oatmeal (think: Quaker Oats) was inexpensive and readily available in the early 20th century. Food companies and domestic scientists promoted oatmeal as healthy and modern.
Cream together thoroughly one cup granulated sugar and butter size of a small egg. Beat two eggs into this. Beat two full cups oatmeal, one level teaspoon baking powder, one tablespoon vanilla. Drop mixture by teaspoons into buttered pan and bake." ---The Economy Administration Cook Book, edited by Susie Rhodes and Grace Porter Hopkins [W.B. Conkey Company::Hammond IN] 1913 (p. 102)
[NOTE: This "who's who" cookbook is a compilation of recipes contributed by wives & daughters of US Congressmen, foreign ambassadors, & distinguished businessmen. Also: women suffragettes, college professors and domestic scientists.]
One cup shortening (lard or cottolene)
One cup sugar
Four tablespoons sweet milk
Three-fourths teaspoon soda
One teaspoon cinnamon
One-half teaspoon salt
Two cups flour
Two cups dry rolled oats
One cup raisins
One-half cup cherries
One-half cup nuts.
Sift salt, soda and spice with flour; mix in the order given; drop by teaspoons on buttered tins and bake. Nice for afternoon tea."
---ibid (p. 84)
Three cups oatmeal, uncooked
One cup shortening (if ard, add salt)
One and one-half cups sugar
One cup sour milk
One teaspoon soda
One teaspoon cinnamon
Three cups flour
Two teaspoons baking powder
One pint of raisins, currants and nuts, chopped and mixed.
Batter will be stiff; place by the spoonful on buttered pan and bake."
---ibid (p. 457)
Cream together two level tablespoons butter with one-half cup sugar. Cream the yolks of two eggs, with one-half cup sugar, and cream the two mixtures, adding two and one-half cups oatmeal, two and one-half teaspoons baking powder, one-half teaspoon salt and a little vanilla. Stir in whites of the two eggs, beaten to a froth. Drop with a teaspoon on buttered baking sheets in a slow oven."
---ibid (p. 458)
"Oat Meal Cookies
Two cups of rolled oats, one cup sugar, three-fourths cup of butter, one and one-half cups of seeded raisins, one cup of hickory nuts. Two eggs (beat whites separately), three-fourths cup of sour milk, two cups sifted flour, one teaspoon each of soda, cloves, and cinnamon. Drop in greased pans by small spoonfuls about one inch apart."
---ibid (p. 161)
"On our recent tour through midwest food companies, we stopped at the Quaker Oats test kitchen in Chicago to find Mrs. Reidun Kober, its director, eager to report a new system of mixing cookies that has been developed there. It is a one-bowl method, and any woman who has made one-bowl cakes knows why Mrs. Kober and her staff wanted to adapt this type of recipe to cookies. The system eliminates the separate creaming of shortening, which is so time-consuming, and cuts the conventional mixing time for cookies from ten (or more) minutes to two. All the ingredients are emptied into a bowl, beaten for a couple of minutes--and, presto, the batter is ready for baking. Curtailing time does not sacrifice flavor, either. Mrs. Kobler reminded us of the high protein content of oatmeal (the highest of any cereal) and its low cost. In baking, it helps to supplant wheat flour, and wheat is needed badly abroad. So on every count--convenience, cost, food conservation and nutrition--this recipe for eatmeal cookies should appeal to cooks.
Into one bowl, sift 1 cup sifted enriched flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add 3/4 cup soft fat, 1 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla and about 1/6 cup of milk. (Fat must be soft--that is, at room temperature). Beat till smooth or about two minutes. On an electric mixer use medium speed. The fold in with a spoon another 1/6 cup of milk and 3 cups rolled oats (uncooked). Variations: If desired, add a 7-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate pieces or 1 cup chopped dates or 1 cup coconut. Drop from a teaspoon onto a greased baking sheet. Bake in a moderate oven (375 degrees F.) for twelve to fifteen minutes. Yield: four dozen."
---"News of Food: One-Bowl Method of Mixing Cookies Cuts Time for Task to Two Minutes," Jane Nickerson, New York Times, November 17, 1947 (p. 25)
Related recipe? Bannock.
According to the records of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Oreo brand cookies were introduced to the American public by the National Biscuit Company (now Nabisco) on March 6, 1912. It is registration #0093009. Nabisco is now owned by Kraft Foods. One month later, the product was launched nationally.
"Oreo. A trademark name...for a cookie composed of two thin chocolate cookies enclosing a white creme filling. The name...was apparently made up by the company. It has been suggested that the name may derive from the French word for gold "or" because the original package had the product name in gold. Another guess is that the word is from the Greek for 'mountain'...The first Oreos were sold to a grocer named S. C. Thuesen on March 6, 1912...Oreos were not, however, the first cookie of this type: "Hydrox Cookies" had been on the market since January 1, 1910, but Oreos have been far more successful."
---The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 225)
"On April 2, 1912, the company's [National Biscuit Company] operations department announced to its managers and sales agents that it was preparing "to offer to the trade...three entirely new varieties of the highest class biscuit in a new style...The three varieties of biscuit...will be known as the Trio. "The varieties comprising the 'Trio' are as follows, namely: Oreo Biscuit--two beautifully embossed chocolate-flavored wafers with a rich cream filling at 30 cents per pound. Mother Goose Biscuit--a rich, high class biscuit bearing impressions of the Mother Goose legends at 20 cents per pound. Veronese Biscuit--delicious, hard sweet biscuit of beautiful design and high quality at 20 cents per pound. This Trio is an exciting innovation, and we are quite sure it will immediately appeal to public favor... ...two members of the trio most lavishly promoted in the initial announcement have since disappeared. But the third, Oreo, was evidently just the kind of cookie the American consuming public wanted. Somewhat similar to a previous product named "Bouquet," the Oreo consisted of two firm chocolate cookies with rich vanilla frosting in the middle. The first Oreos were slightly larger than today's product, but always round. Within a short time Oreo, which resembled an English biscuit, became a fantastically good seller among NBC sweet goods...The origin of the name is not really known, although one possibility is that it came from the Greek oreo, meaning hill or mountain. Supposedly, either in testing or when the product was first produced, it was shaped like a baseball mound or hill-hence, an oreo. This has a certain validity in view of A.W. Green's [company executive] tendency toward classical names. Oreo was officially registered in 1913 as "Oreo Biscuit." By 1921 it had become "Oreo Sandwich" and by 1948 "Oreo Creme Sandwich." Variations have been tried--a vanilla Oreo, a single-cracker Oreo, and in the 1920s a lemon-filled Oreo was introduced. The size has undergone changes, too. Today's is about midway between the largest and the smallest. Through all shifts in public preferences, Oreo has remained one of the nation's most consistent favorites. As frequently happens with popular products, there are people who fancy that they contributed to is creation. An Oreo admirer once wrote to the company "During the early 1920's you have a contest offering a cash reward for a suitable name for this particular cookie. I entered this contest and submitted the name Oreo. Time passed, I learned or heard nothing concerning the matter, so gave it no further thought until this past Sunday night....If you will kindly check your records concerning the said contest, I am sure that in them you will find I am the one who submitted the trade name, Oreo." The company answered, "We think that you must be confused about the origin of the trademark Oreo. It was not originated as the result of a contest in the early 1920's or at any other time. It was originated by our advertising department, and first used on March 6, 1912."
---Out of the Cracker Barrel: From Animal Crackers to ZuZu's, William Cahn [Simon & Schuster:New York] 1969 (p. 142-4)
About the cookie's design: "The ornamental pattern of the wafer itself...is Oreo's visual signature. Stampled out by brass rollers passing over sheets of chocolate dough, the pattern consists of a series of four-leaf clovers around the word "OREO," which is set within the traditional trademark of Nabisco, its manufacturer--that trademark being a horizontal oval with what looks like a television antenna extending up from it. Around the clovers, a broken line forms a broken circle. Beyond that, the outer edge of the cookie is slighly ridged, serving both as a visual frame for the ornamental center and as a means of grasping the cookie with comparative ease. As a design, it is pleasantly dowdy, like the wallpaper one might find in an old country house, or the wall stenciling that was common in the early years of this century, when the Oreo was created. Although spokesmen for Nabisco say there have been no significant changes in the cookie (except for its size), magazine advertisements from past years show that this has not been the case. In the 1950's, for example, the word "OREO" was set in a circle, which was surrounded by what appears to be a garland of petals. It was a more graceful look a bit closer in appearance to that of the Oreo's erstwhile competitor, the Hydrox brand produced by Sunshine Bakeries. Hydrox is the Pepsi to the Oreo's Coca Cola; it acutally predates Oreo, though it is less popular. The Hydrox's ornamental pattern is at once cruder and more delicate than the Oreo's; the ridges around the edge are longer and deeper, but the center comprises stamped-out flowers, a design more intricate than the Oreo pattern."
---"Machine Imagery, Homey Decoration," Paul Goldberger, New York Times, June 4, 1986 (p. C6)
How much have Oreos cost through the years?
Where is "Oreo Way?"
"Q. Why is 15th Street at Ninth Avenue now called Oreo Way?
A. Because that is the birthplace of America's favorite cookie. IN 1898 several baking companies merged to form the National Biscuit Company, Nabisco, and opened a large industrial bakery on Ninght Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets at the Chelsea Market Building...In 1912, Nabisco had an idea for a new cookie: two chocolate disks with sugar icing in the middle. That year Nabisco sold its first package of Oreos to a store in Hoboken, N.J. Since then Nabisco has made more than 450 billion Oreo cookies. It was the best-selling cookie of the 20th century. Last year Americans dunked, twisted and chomped nearly 12 billion Oreos. Nabisco moved out of the Chelsea Market building in 1958 and now produces Oreos in bakeries around the world."
---"450 Billion Oreos to Go," Ed Boland Jr., New York Times, July 28, 2002 (p. CY2)
"Oreos," Encyclopedia of Consumer Brands, Volume 1: Consumables, Janice Jorgensen (editor) [St. James Press:Detroit] 1994 (p. 425-427)
Peanut butter cookies
Small cakes composed of nuts, dried fruits, and spices were prepared by ancient cooks. These early cakes were very different from what we eat today. They were more bread-like and sweetened with honey. The Romans are usually credited with spreading such recipes throughout Europe. Medieval bakers prefered white sugar and perfected gingerbread, fruitcake and a host of related sweetly spiced recipes, many with nuts. Northern European bakers specialized in cookies. When the Dutch arrived in the New World in the 17th century, they brought their cookie recipes with them. Peanuts are a "New World" food. About peanuts & peanut butter.
We checked dozens of early 20th century American cookbooks and found peanut cookies recipes were quite common. These, however, called for crushed/chopped peanuts as an ingredient. It is not until the 1910s that we find peanut butter listed as an ingredient in cookies. The first peanut butter cookies recipes were for rolled cookies. The 1933 edition of Pillsbury's Balanced Recipes contains a recipe for Peanut Butter Balls which instructs the cook to roll the dough into balls and press them down with the tines of a fork. This practice is still common in America today.
"Special Peanut Cookies
Put three tablesooons Larkin Peanut Butter, one teaspoon lard, one and one-half cups granulated sugar, and two egs into a mixing bowl. Stir and beat until mixture is quite light. Add two and one-half cups sifted flour and one teaspoon soda dissolved in three tablespoons thick sour milk. Flavor with one teaspoon Larkin Vanilla Extract. Roll and bake in a quick oven. This amount makes fifty cookies. Mrs. G.W. Parkins, Lyons, N.Y."Larkin Housewives' Cook Book, [Larkin Co.:Buffalo NY] 1915 (p. 87)
"Peanut Butter Cookies
2 tablespoonfuls butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten light
1/3 cup milk
2 cups flour
4 teaspoonfuls baking powder
1/4 teaspoonful salt
Cream the butter, add the peanut butter, and cream again; beat in the sugar; add the egg, the milk, and flour sifted with the baking powder and salt; mix to a dough, knead slightly, roll into a thin sheet, and cut into rounds, set into a buttered pan, dredge with granulated sugar, and bake in a quick oven. For a softer cookie, add a little more milk. MOre flour may be needed, but do not mix too stiff."
---Cakes, Pastry and Dessert Dishes, Janet McKenzie Hill [Little, Brown, and Company:Boston MA] 1917 (p. 67)
"Peanut Butter Balls
Recipe makes 5 dozen small cookies
Temperature: 375 F.
1 cup Pillsbury's Best Flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1. Sift flour, salt and soda together.
2. Cream peanut butter and shortening; add sugar gradually.
3. Add unbeaten egg, lemon juice and grated rind; beat well.
4. Stir in dry ingredients. Chill dough thoroughly.
5. Form dough into small balls; place on greased baking sheet; press each cooky once with tines of a fork to flatten. Bake in moderate oven."
---Balanced Reicpes, Mary Ellis Ames [Pillsbury Flour Mills Company:Minneapolis] 1933 (recipe 76)
Related food? peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.
Why the classic criss-cross pattern?
1930s recipes instructed cooks to create criss-cross pattern on cookie with the tines of a fork. They did not specify why. Neither do subsequent cookbooks. Craig Claiborne's observations on the subject are quite enlightening:
"It has been pointed out, on occasion, that you never can tell what on earth interests readers of this column and to what degree. With tongue in cheek, we stated recently that we had a file of letters marked Unanswered and Unanswerable. We quoted one of those letters, not fictional, in which someone aked if we could explain why peanut butter cookies were creased with a fork before baking. We didn't really expect an answer to that, but replies we got. One reader wrote as follows: The cookies are creased with a fork, she informed us, to make them crisper. "One of my sons," she continued, "once answered this technique and baked one pan of cookies plain, the other with the tradtional fork creases on top. The plain peanut butter cookies did not taste as good and seemed a bit soggy in the center. "Since the peanut butter cookie dough is quite rich, I think the fork creases expose just enough dough to add a bit more crispy crust for better results. Another reader offered this conjecture: "Most cookies dropped by rounded teaspoonsful will flatten in the oven and bake evenly. Is there something in peanut butter cookie dough that prevents it from flattening out by itself? The peanut butter, for example? Pressing the dollop with the tines of a fork would assure the dough flattens properly and, therefore, bakes evenly." But the explanation about pressing those cookies that we like best came from Sylvia Lavietes of New Haven, Conn.: "Your column today contained an inquiry regarding peanut butter cookies. Well, a stupid question calls for a stupid answer. Peanut butter cookies are crisscrossed in order to make it possible to distinguish them from chocolate chip cookies in the cookie jar."
---"The Fork and the Cookie," Craig Claiborne, New York Times, April 2, 1979 (p. A17)
Food historians confirm crisp waffle-type cookies have ancient roots. These fancy holiday batter recipes were embraced by many cultures and cuisines: Italian pizzelles, Dutch wafres (waffles), French gaufrettes, Norwegian krumkake, etc. The primary difference between recipes is thickness of the batter and design of product. Who made the first food of this type? We will probably never know. History does not typically record the "invention" of simple foods. We do know, however, that pizzelles and their fancy European cousins were very popular in the Middle Ages and played significant roles in the Christian calendar, most notably Lent. Some of these foods later evolved into street fare. Fancy shapes, different sizes, decorative patterns, and thickness variations are achieved by special cooking apparatus called wafer (waffle, gauffre) irons. About waffles.
"Pizzelle. A large round cookie made from a rich batter of eggs, sugar, butter, flour, and vanilla, baked on a specially designed pizzelle iron, which looks like a waffle iron. The intricately carved sufaces of the pizzelle iron imprint designs onto the cookie as it cooks. Pizzelle become crisp as they cool. While still warm, they can be rolled into a cone shape, then filled with whipped cream when cool...The Scandinavian version of pizzelle is krumkake, baed on a similar iron that has the traditional engraved scroll designs."
---The International Dictionary of Desserts, Pastries, and Confections, Carol Bloom [Hearst:New York] 1995 (p. 236)
"Pizzelles, a centuries-old specialty of the Tuscan town of Montecatini, are a standard at most Italian-American bakeries and espresso shops."
---"Pizzelles bring Tuscan Elegance to the Cookie Tray," Annette Gouch, Chicago Tribune, December 13, 2000 (p. 9)
"One of the many delicacies we continue to enjoy preparing are pizzelle, crisp embossed cookies from Italy that are baked one at a time in a patterned cookie iron. The word pizzelle, a derivative of "pizza," means "small cakes." If your grandmother was Scandinavian or French, you may know this cookie by such names as krumkake or gaufrette. These sweet, lacy cookies are made from a wafflelike batter that is spooned into an iron mold with two long handles. The resulting cookie is similar to waffle ice cream cones before they are rolled into shape. In fact, pizzelle come out of the iron soft and flexible, and you can roll them into decorative cones or cannoli shells. Pizzelle are usually flavored with anise or lemon, but you can add ground cinnammon, orange rind or almond extract. Pizzelle offer a good flavor and textured contrast to fruit sorbets, ice creams and custards. Pizzelle are perfect with afternoon tea or as a light dessert, spread with creamed honey. Although pizzelle are popular all over Italy, in the south, pizzelle irons are traditional wedding gifts from village blacksmiths. They come inscribed with the wedding date and the newlyweds' initials. Subsequent celebrations call for bringing out the pizzelle iron."
---"Italy's Traditional Pizzelle Cookes Get an Update," Jolene Worthington, Chicago Tribune, January 6, 1994 (p. 2)
Related food? Ice cream cones!
The history of Scottish shortbread is interconnected with the history of dairy farming and butter making in the British Isles during the Medieval Ages:
"As Jean-Louis Flandrin points out, butter consumption is a natural development in regions suitable for cattle-breeding. In such places, popular taste and the local economy had gone right over to butter as a cooking fat within 400 years....Flandrin is speaking about the butter-eating areas of Europe in the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries..."
---History of Food, Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat [Barnes & Noble Books:New York] 1992 (p. 121)
[pages 120-124 present the history of butter, including its symbolism]
"Butter was the other principal milk dish [cheese being the other]. The manner of making is had changed little since Pliny's day...In other branches of cookery butter was an enricher, the accompaniment of cheese in herbolaces or with macaroni; of eggs, milk and sugar in the filling for a flathon; of plain or fancy breads in pain perdu or rastons. For short pastry and cakes, it was at first an alternative to fresh cream, but eventually superseded it, for butter had a more highly concentrated fat content, and was more easily stored...Nevertheless butter appeared in a relatively small proportion of the dishes in medieval recipe books, which were written mainly for and by the cooks of the nobility. It was only in Tudor times that an emerging middle class, which did not despise butter as the food of the poor, began to use it liberally in every possible sphere of cookery, setting a trend that was to last for some two hundred years."
---Food and Drink in Britain: From the Stone Age to the 19th Century, C. Anne Wilson [Academy Chicago:Chicago] 1991 (p. 161-164)[ask your librarian to help you find this book--it is chock full of interesting information.]
This explains why the first shortbread recipes date only back as far as Elizabethan times. This food historian confirms:
"Shortbread...a biscuit whose origin lies in the short cakes made in the 16th century...There are many variations. The thick Pitcaithly bannock has peel and almonds in the mixture..."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 721)
According to these sources, if you want to make Medieval/Elizabethan type shortbread you might want to add some finely ground oats to your recipe. This makes sense given the fact that oats and butter were staple foods of the poorer classes.
"Shortbread...A biscuit (cookie) rich in butter, which is served with tea and its traditionally eaten at Christmas and New Year. Originating from Scotland and traditionally made with oatmeal, it is now made with wheat flour...Shortbread is usually baked in a large round and served cut from the centre into triangles; it is a relic of the ancient New Year cakes that were symbols of the sun."
---Larousse Gastronomique, Jenifer Harvey Lang [Crown Publishers:New York] 1988 (p. 974-5)
"Eaten all the year round but especially at Christmas and the New Year, this delicious cake, which is quite unlike any other, is made from only the finest materials...Originally made with fine oatmeal, it is now made with sifted flour, sometimes with a small proportion of rice flour. On festive occasions it can be decorated with fine strips of orange or lemon peel and small sugared almonds. In the Shetland and Orkney Islands it is call the Bride's Bonn, and has a small proportion...of caraway seeds added. The edges are traditionally "notched" by pinching with the finger and thumb, and this is thought to symbolize the sun's rays, from the early days of sun-worship."
---A Taste of Scotland, Theodora FitzGibbon [Avenel Books:New York] 1979 (p. 117)
What about the origin of the name "shortbread?" According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "Short" (definition 20): Of edible substances: Friable, easily crumbled. This describes the process of making shortbread. This is also where the English term "shortening" comes from. According to John Ayto, the term "shortbread" dates back only as far as the early nineteenth century. [An A-Z of Food and Drink, Oxford University Press:Oxford 2002 (p. 310).]
"We all know what short dough is: a rich dough that makes a tender crust, as against the plain dough that turns into sturdy, chewy bread. And then there's shortbread, which always has a lot of butter or other "shortening" in it. So how come there's no such thing as long dough or longbread? Or an ingredient known as lengthening, for that matter? In exactly what sense does shortening "shorten" anything? In this case, "short" doesn't refer to richness but to a fragile, easily crumbled texture. Short doughs bake up crumbly because the fatty shortening coats the flour particles, preventing the formation of gluten when water is stirred in. This is a rather uncommon and specialized sense of the word (in the Oxford English Dictionary, it's No. 21 of the 23 main definitions of "short"). "Short" may have acquired this meaning because it can refer to something that's inadequate--something that falls short, as we say. The idea might have been that short dough was weak, which it is. On the other hand, maybe the metaphor of shortness came from brick-making. Professionally made bricks are fired in kilns at temperatures so high that the clay fuses into something as hard as rock, but anybody can make sun-dried bricks. The thing that gives a sun-dried brick strength is chopped-up straw; without straw mixed in, the bricks are just fragile lumps of dried mud. Of course, the same would be true if the straw were cut too . . . short. It may have seemed to people that short dough behaved as if it contained short fibers."
---"Folklore; The Short Story," The Los Angeles Times, October 14, 1998 (p. 2).
Historic shortbread recipe sampler
"Short Cakes Made at ye Bathe.
Take a pound of flower & rube into it a half pound of flouwer butter very fine; then put in half a pound of flo sugar & wet it with white wine to a paste; the rowle it very thick & cut it round with ye top of ye Drudger, & knotch it round with a squef [sic]& bake them upon a tin."
---Receipt Book of Mrs. Ann Blencowe, facsimile 1694 edition, with an introduction by George Saintsbury [Polyanthos:Cottonport LA] 1972 (p. 14)
"To make Short Bread
Take a Peck of Flour, put three lib. of Butter in among a little Water, and let it melt, pour it in amongst your Flour, put in a Mutchkin of good barm; when it is wrought divide it in 3 Parts, roll out your Cakes longer than broad and gather it on the Sides with your Finger, cut it through the Middle, and job it on the Top, then send it to the Oven."
---Mrs. McLintock's Receipts for Cookery and Pastry-Work, facsimile 1736 edition with an Introduction and Glossary by Iseabail Macleod [Aberdeen University Press:Aberdeen] 1986 (p. 6-7)
[NOTES: Scots Measures on p. xxx-xxxi state a "mutchkin" is 2.996 gills or .212 litres; a "lib" is 1 pound 1 ounce drams or 496 grammes.]
"1014. Scotch short-bread.--To the fourth of a peck of flour, take six ounces of sifted sugar and of candied citron and orange peel, and blanched almonds, two ounces each. Cut these in rather large slices, and mix them with the flour. Rub down among the flour a pound of butter in very minute bits, and melt a half-pound more, and with this work up the flour, &c. The less kneading it gets the more short and crisp the cakes will be. Roll out the paste into a large well-shaped oval cake, about an inch and a half thick, and divide this the narrow way, so as to have two cakes somewhat the shape of a Gothic arch. Pinch the cakes neatly at the edges, and mark them on the top with and instrument used for the purpose, or with a fork. Strew caraway-comfits over the top, and a few strips of citron peel. Bake on paper rubbed with flour. The cakes may be squares, or oblong figures.--Obs. Plainer short-bread may be made by using less butter and no candied peel. The whole of the butter may be melted, which makes the process easier. Chopped almonds are used in larger quanitity for very rich short-bread."
---The Cook and Housewife's Manual, Mistress Margaret Dods, facsimile 1829 4th edition revised and enlarged [Rosters Ltd.: London] 1988 (p. 446-447)
[NOTE: The author's real name was Mrs. Isobel Christian Johnston (b. Fife 1781, died 1857). "Meg Dods" was a character invented by Sir Walter Scott. According to Theodora Fitzgibbon, Traditional Scottish Cookery c. 1980 (p. 6) Mrs. Johnston was a great friend of Scott.]
Short Bread, Scotch.
No. 1. Mix two pounds of flour with four ounces of moist sugar, two ounces of candied citron, chopped small, and two ounces of sweet almonds, blanched and sliced. Rub one pound of butter into the flour, melt another half pound of butter, and with this work up the four to a smooth paste. If a plainer cake is wanted, less butter may be used. Sometimes the whole of the butter is melted, and then the bread is more easily made. Roll out the pastry to the thickness of an inch, and in a large oval shape, pinch the edges evenly, prick the surface with a fork or skewer, and sprinkle large comfits over the top. Cut the oval across, thus making two cakes, and place these upon paper rubbed with flour, and then upon tins. Bake in a moderate oven. When the bread is lightly browned, it is done enough. It should be remembered that the less the bread is kneaded the shorter it will be. No. 2. Rub three-quarters of a pound of fresh unsalted butter into half a pound of flour; add a quarter of a pound of ground rice, four tablespoonfuls of moist sugar, two ounces of candied citron, finely minced, and an ounce of sweet almonds, blanched and chopped small. When these ingredients are thoroughly mixed, work the whole into a smooth paste with the yolks of two small eggs. Roll the pastry out to the thickness of half and inch, divide it into four squares, pinch the edges neatly, prick the surface with a "dabber" or fork, sprinkle comfits and sliced citron on the top, and bake as above. Time to bake the bread, half to three-quarters of an hour."
---Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery with Numerous Illustrations [Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co.:London] 1875 (p. 866)
Ingredients.--2 lbs. of flour, 1/4 lb of cornflour, or ground rice, 1 lb. of butter, 1/4 lb. of castor sugar, 1 oz. of sweet almonds, a few strips of candied orange peel.
Method.--Beat the butter to a cream, gradually dredge in the clour, and add the sugar and sweet almonds, which should be blanched and cut into small pieces. Work the paste until it is quite smooth, and divide into 6 pieces. Put each cake on a separate piece of paper, roll the paste out square to the thickness of about 1 inch, and pinch it round the edges. Prick it well with a skewer, and ornament with 1 or 2 strips of candied orange-peel. Put the cakes into a moderately-heated oven, and bake from 25 to 30 minutes.
Time.--25 to 30 minutes. Average cost, for this quantity, 2s. Sufficient to make 6 cakes.
---Mrs. Beeton's Every-Day Cookery, New Edition [Ward, Lock & Co.:London] 1909 (p. 639)
Good shortbread must be made of the finest ingredients, fresh butter, castor sugar, and white flour. Tradtionally shortbread is decorated with orange or candied peel and almonds. It needs lightness of hand and nice judgement, for if the ingredients are worked too much together the result is tough and chewy, instead of being short and melt-in-the-mouth.
4 oz. fresh butter
2 oz. castor sugar
4 oz. fine flour
2 oz. rice flour or fine semolina
orange or citron candied peel
blanched split almonds
Crema butter, beat in the castor sugar. Add flours by degrees, working quickly and lightly. Immediately they are incorporated pat out with the fist to a cake about 3/4 inch in thickness and 8 inches in diameter. Pinch round the ege with pastry pincers or with the fingres. Prick the middle and decorate with strips of the peel and the split almonds. Dust over with castor sugar. Slide on to a baking-sheet covered with a piece of paper dusted with flour and bake in a moderately hot oven 15-20 minutes. The shortbread must be a pale biscuit colour."
---The Constance Spry Cookery Book, Constabce Spry and Rosemary Hume [Pan Books:London] 1956, 1972 (p. 789-790)
The ingredients should be warm and dry
1 lb (450 g.) butter
8 ox (225 g.) castor sugar
pinch of salt
1 lb (450 g.) sifted flour
8 oz (225 g.) rice flour
Cream the butter and sugar together very well. Mix the flours and salt, sift them, then incorporate them gradually but thoroughly until the dough is like a shortcrust pastry texture. Do not knead or roll out as this only toughens it. Press with the and into 2 round cakes and if you don't have a wooden shortbread mould, then put on to an ungreased baking sheet covered with baking-paper. The usual thickness is about 3/4 inch (1.9 cm.) for an 8-inch (20.3 cm.) shortbread. Pinch the edges regularly with the finger and thumb and prick all over, lightly with fork. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees F. (190 degrees C.) or gas mark 5 for about 1 hour, and after 20 minutes reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. (180 degrees C.) or gas mark 4 to let it crisp up and get a pale fawn colour. Leave to cool before putting on to a rack. NOTE: if rice flour is not available then all wheat flour can be used, but reduce to 1 lb. (450 g. ) in all."
---Traditional Scottish Cookery, Theodora FitzGibbon [Fontana Paperbacks:UK] 1980 (p. 252)
If you camp, you know s'mores. These warm squishy energy-packed chocolate treats are ubiquitious. This delicious trifecta of ingredients (graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate bars) were readily available to the American public by the late 19th century and very popular in the early 20th. The Girl Scouts of America are generally credited for introducing S'mores to hungry campers.
Where did the idea come from? Victorian-era cookbooks contain recipes for "sandwich cookies," soft sponge-cakes filled with jam or cream fillings. American cookbooks published in the early decades of the 20th century contain recipes for chocolate sandwiches (cool) and marshmallow sandwiches (warm). American food companies were combining marhsmallows, graham crackers and chocolate in the 1910s. These were wildly popular. About Moon Pies, Scooter pies & Mallomars.
The director of the National Historic Preservation Center, Girl Scouts of the USA kindly pointed us in the right direction. She confirmed the recipe first appeared first in GSA's 1927 book Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts. We own a copy of this booklet. Here's the original recipe:
8 sticks [for toasting the marshmallows]
16 graham crackers
8 bars plain chocolate (Hershey's or any of the good plain brands, broken in two)
Toast two marshmallows over the coals to a crisp gooey state and then put them inside a graham cracker and chocolate bar sandwich. The heat of the marshmallow between the halves of chocolate bar will melt the chocolate a bit. Though it tastes like "some more" one is really enough."
---Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts [Girl Scouts, Inc:New York City] 1927 (p. 68-69)
[NOTE: This book is full of useful information, including 12 different kinds of campfires (purpose & method), nosebag (hiker) meals & campfire menus. Very happy to share!]
The 1940 Girl Scout Handbook has a recipe for one "Some Mores" that calls for "4 squares plain chocolate (thin), 2 graham crackers, and one marshmallow. This recipe may be varied by using slices of apple (cut cross-wise) in place of the graham crackers; by using pineapple slices or peanut butter in place of chocolate."
Our 1947 GSA Handbook confirms this recipe adds these instructions:
"Some-Mores (serves 1)
4 squares plain chocolate (thin)
2 graham crackers
Toast marshmallow slowly over the coals until brown. Put chocolate on a graham cracker, put the toasted marshmallow on top, then another graham cracker. Press gently together, and eat. Taste like "some more." This recipe may be varied by using slices of apple (cut cross-wise) in place of the graham crackers; by using pineapple slices or peanut butter in place of chocolate."
---Girl Scout Handbook [Girl Scouts of the United States of America:New York] 1947 (p. 316)
We do not really know that the Girl Scouts were the first to make and enjoy S'mores, but we also don't know of any earlier claims to this special treat. We also do not know when the name of this treat got shortened. Recipes for "Some Mores" are in various Girl Scout publications until at least 1971.
When were marshmallow roasts popular?
The story behind the snickerdoodle is and excellent lesson in food lore. What little is written on this tasty treat is hard to substantiate [prove] with primary documents [old cookbooks] and reference books. Some books say snickerdoodles were popular in colonial America. Were they really?
Food historians tell us the history of small cakes/cookies/biscuits with snickerdoodle-type ingredients dates back to ancient Roman times. Small cakes of this sort were quite popular in Medieval Europe. In Medieval and Renaissance England, similar cookies were called jumbles. Germans often added more spices and dried fruits, in the gingerbread tradition. When Europeans settled in the New World they brought with them their culinary heritage and their recipes. We find plenty of recipes printed in 18th-19th century American cookbooks that would produce something quite like snickerdoodles, but they are called other names (jumbles, ginger cookies).
Is it possible the recipe for snickerdoodles is very old but the name snickerdoodle was invented recently? Perhaps. The word does not show up in the Oxford English Dictionary, Dictionary of Americanisms, and other word origin books. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office points us to several products with this name, most notably, Snickerdoodle.com (1989). A popular children's book suggests the word "snicker" may have come from a Dutch word "snekrad," or the German word "Schnecke, " both describing a snail-like shape. This is possible. This book offers no explanation for the "doodle."
This is what the the food historians have to say about the snickerdoodles:
"Snickerdoodle. A New England cookie made with flour, nuts, and dried fruits. The name is simply a nineteenth-century nonsense word for a quickly made confection."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 299)
"Snickerdoodle. Originating in 19th century New England, this whimsically named cookie has a charactaristically crackly surface and can be either crisp or soft...The name appears to have no particular meaning or purpose."
---Food Lover's Companion, Sharon Tyler Herbst, 3rd ed.[Barrons:New York] 2001 (p. 575)
"I do not know the origin of the name, but it has been proposed that it is of German origin and derived from the word "schnecken", i.e. sticky buns."
---Craig Claiborne's The New York Times Food Encyclopedia, Craig Claiborne [Times Books:New York] 1985 (p. 412)
"Snickerdoodle, a biscuit made from a creamed mixture enlivened with nutmeg, nuts, and raisins. It is a specialty of the Pennsylvania Dutch, a community with many sweet biscuit and cookie recipes."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 77)
What makes the history of Snickerdoodles so interesting?
1. You won't find recipes for snickerdoodles in early American American cookbooks.
---You WILL find plenty of recipes for currant (they are like raisins) cakes and jumbles combining sweet spices, nuts and dried fruits
2. Some food historians say snickerdoodles are a New England recipe [English origin].
---Others say it is from the Pennsylvania Dutch [German origin].
Some authentic recipes [of English heritage] that would make cookies approximating snickerdoodles: Queen cakes , Joe Froggers & Sand Tarts.
Plain and simple. Recipes titled "Snickerdoodles" first surfaced in USA print during the 20th century:
Three cups of flour, two cups of sugar, one cup of butter, two eggs, two teaspoons of cream of tartar, one teaspoon of soda. Drop in a pan and sprinkle a little sugar and cinnamon over each. Bake in a quck oven. --Mrs. John Montgomery"
---1902 Cook Book: A Collection of Tried Recipes Contributed by Estherville [Iowa] Housewives, Mrs. A.L. Barnum and Mrs. S. I. Delavan editors, (p. 80) [submitted by Nancy Baggett]
Take one cup granulated sugar and one-half cup butter and lard;add one egg, salt, one cup milk, and two and one-half cups flour, wtih two teaspoons baking powder. Lastly one-half cup currants, dredged with a little flour. Put in square pan. Before baking, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake twenty minutes. This will cut into twenty-four square pieces. Mrs. O.Y. Palmer, 1080 Oakwood avenue, Toledo O[hio]."
---"Paste These in Your Scrap Book," Alice Wann, ,i>Chicago Daily Tribune, August 25, 1907 (p. G3)
[NOTE: This recipe won a .00 prize.]
1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 1 egg, 1 cup milk, 1 1/2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 cup currants. Put into a large square tin and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon before baking."
---Tried and True Recipes, published for the Benefit of the First Congregational Church, Wilmette, ILL. By the East End Circle Woman's Guild [1920s?--no date on the book] (p. 72)
1/2 cup butter or lard, mixed
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup water or milk
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup raisins, dredged with flour
Combine all ingredients excepting the second listing of sugar, the cinnamon and nuts. Stir till mixed. This will be very stiff butu spread it out in a shallow bread pan, sprinkle thickly over the top with sugar, cinnamon and nuts. Bake about 20 minutes in a moderate ove (375 degrees F.)."
---New York World's Fair Cook Book: The American Kitchen, Grosbt Gaige [Doubleday, Doran & Company:New York] 1039 (p. 116)
[NOTE: This recipe is grouped with Illnois foods.]
2 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teasp. cream of targar
1 teasp. baking soda
1 cup soft shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs, unbeaten
2 tablesp. granulated sugar
2 teasp. cinnamon
Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. With electric mixer at medium speed, or "cream" (or with spoon), thorougly mix shortening with 1 1/2 cups sugar and eggs until very light and fluffy. At low speed, or "blend," beat in flour mixutre until batter is dough-like; chill until easy to handle. Start heating oven to 400 degrees F. Form dough into walnut-size balls; roll in 2 tbsp. sugar and cinnamon, mixed. Place, 2" apart, on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 mon., or until done. Makes 5 doz."
---Good Housekeeping's Bood of Cookies, Good HOsuekeeping Magazine [Chicago Book Publishers:Chicago IL] 1958 (p. 14)
The recipe for this delicious "family cooky" came to us from Mrs. Ronald Anfinson, Benson, Minnesota.
1 cup shortening (part butter or margarine)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 3/4 cups Gold Medal Flour
2 tsp. cream of tarter
1 tsp. soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. (Mod. Hot). Mix shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and eggs thoroughly. Measure flour by dipping method...or by sifting. Blend flour, cream of tartar, soda, and salt; stir in. Shape dough in 1" balls. Roll in mixture of 2 tbsp. sugar and cinnamon. Place 2" apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 mins. These cookies puff up at first, then flatten out. Makes 6 doz. Cookies."
---Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, General Mills, facsimile 1963 edition [Hungry Minds:New York] 2002 (p. 23)
[NOTE: General Mills is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.]
Notice a distinct midwest American theme here?
Related cookies: Hermits & Joe Froggers.
Crackers, Oyster crackers, Saltines & Vermont common crackers.
Food historians tell us small hard biscuits were probably first made by ancient Middle Eastern peoples. These foods were quite practical, as they were filling, easily transported and able withstand adverse weather conditions. This is why cracker-type foods have a long history in military rations. Ancient Roman armies ate biscuits, Nelson's sailors ate Ship's biscuit, and Civil War soldiers ate hardtack. These are all related in method and ingredients to the tasty crackers we buy in today's supermarket.
Many cultures and cuisines have developed their own special crackers. Italian biscotti, Jewish mandlebrot, German zwieback and English rusk are some examples. The word "cracker" appears to have originated in North America sometimes in the 18th century. Food historians generally agree that the light, crispy crackers we Americans know today appeared in the 19th century. This concides with the "discovery" of chemical leaveners such as baking soda and powder.
A name first used in N. America,f rom the mid-18th century onwards, for a plain, unsweetened, dry, hard, bread product; thus corresponding to part of the domain covered by the wider English term "biscuit." When crackers are broken into pieces they make a cracking noise, which accounts for the name. Crackers may be leavened or unleavened. Those of the former sort were formerly baked by a particular method which called for a dough leavened with bicarbonate of soda (hence the term "soda cracker") and left to stand until pockets of carbon dioxide formed in the mixture. When biscuits of this dough were placed in a very hot oven they rose quickly, giving the characteristic texture. Unleavened crackers may be made from flour and water only (as are matzos) or with the addition of a little salt. Some examples of this sort are the small oyster crackers, used on top of seafood chowders, and the crackers know as ship's biscuit...The cracker barrel was an institution in American general stores and groceries which sold crackers loose in bulk. The term was first used in print in the 1870s..."
---The Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 222)
"...Since the eighteenth century Americans have spoken of these wafers by this term, first appearing in print in 1739, but it is still a word rarely used in England, where biscuit is preferred...In the 1830s Americans called the wafers soda crackers, and common crackers or oyster crackers were placed in New England chowders or split and buttered."
---The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman Books:New York] (p.104)
"Crackers started out as thin, crisp nonsweet, bite-size flatbreads. The making of crackers was among the first food industries in America. During the eighteenth century, cheap, hard crackers called "ship's bread," "ship's biscuits," and later, "hardtack" were widely manufactured for use on ships and for those migrating westward. These large, sturdy crackers, made only of flour and water--no shortening--kept for a very long time. One of the earliest brand-name foods was Bent's water crackers, which were initially manufactured by Josiah Bent, a ship's bread baker in Milton, Massachusetts...Crackers were packed in barrels and sold to grocery stores and restaurants. Recipes for simple crackers appeared in early American cookbooks...By the 1840s three major cracker varieties made with shortening had been introduced: the soda cracker, the butter cracker, and the round sugar biscuit...The era of generic crackers ended in 1898 with the formation of the National Biscuit Company, the forerunner of Nabisco...The new company introduced wrapping and packaging machines for their new brand-name product, Uneeda biscuits...After World War II, the cracker industry expanded along with the rest of the snack food field."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 353)
Like Vermont common and Oyster crackers, modern saltines descend from mid-19th century soda crackers. Nabisco biographer William Cahn attributes the commercial creation to F.L. Sommers Company, St. Louis Missouri. A careful read of his text states the product won a prize in 1876. It does not identify a specific date or credit a specific person for creating this cracker. Some online sources credit Joseph Garneau as the "inventor."
"In certain areas of the midwest there was a strong preference for a cracker called "Premium Flake" or "Saltina," which replaced Uneeda in popularity. The Premium Saltine, a soda cracker, had long been a favorite in certain areas of the midwest, particularly in the Missouri area where it was invented. It had won prizes as far back as 1876. [Thomas L.] Green was jealous for his favorite soda cracker, Uneeda Biscuit, and kept the Premium Saltine confined to its home ground. However, in the twenties the Saltine began to be manufactured and distributed in factories throughout the country and was soon in wide demand. The popularity of the Saltine was increased many times over in the years ahead."
------Out of the Cracker Barrel: From Animal Crackers to ZuZu's, William Cahn [Simon & Schuster:New York] 1969 (p. 198)
"About the time Green and Moore were, as young lawyers, descending upon Chicago, a special type of soda cracker was being produced by the F.L. Sommer Company in its huge bakery in St. Joseph, Missouri. It was called 'Premium Saltine.' At first it was made only in the west. But its popularity spread and soon it was in demand all over the country. The Premium soda cracker was the greatest thing that had happened to the Sommer company since its government contract for half a million pounds of hard bread for distribution to Indian tribes. The Premium soda cracker or saltine was to become--although not without opposition from Green--one of the most valuable assets that NBC inherited."
---ibid (p. 105)
Did Joseph Garneau "invent" the saltine?
We're finding two references. One is an online condensed version of an article published in Central Magazine, July 1873. The biographical profile confirms Mr. Garneau was a leader in the new commercial cracker industry. The other print reference is a 1917 obituary for Joseph Garneau, of New York City, claiming saltine invention. The first Garneau emigrated to St. Louis in 1832; the second was born in 1855. Possibly a family connection but definately not the same man.
"President of the Joseph Garneau Company, Inc., importers, died yesterday at his home in Kingston N.J., in his sixty-second year. He was engaged in the manufacture of biscuits and crackers. He was the inventor of the saltine cracker."
---"Obituary Notes," New York Times, July 4, 1917 (p. 9)
[NOTES: (1) Death notice published in the NYT the following day (p. 9) states Mr. Garneau will be buried in St. Louis, MO. (2) According to the New York Times, the Joseph Garneau Company was in the business of importing wine and alcoholic beverages. No mention of a biscuit business. Perhaps this obituary note was referencing an earlier business endeavor or past employment. (3) Burial in St. Louis may indicate a prior connection with the F.L. Sommer biscuit operation. Genealogy research may cement the connection. St. Louis is approximately 300 miles from St. Joseph. (4) Obituary indicates Mr. Garneau was born in 1855, which would make him 21 when the saltine won its award.]
"Soda Biscuit or Cracker
[For Small Batch] Can be doubled as you wish. One and one-half barrel flour, twenty-five pounds of lard, two pounds of salt; set you sponge witgh hop yeast or Flesichmann's Compressed yeast; set it in the evening and let it fall about four inches, then make your dough and let it rise well, then work in your saleratus, two pounds; should the dough not have enough saleratus add two ounces more. You may try a pieces of the dough, as this is a certain way, and after a little practice you may be able to tell by the look of the dough; take care to work in the saleratus well; when there is enough saleratus in it the dough will e noticed to have something like stripes in it; this will be observed, if you have some knowledge of cracker making; above all let your dough be broken well before running off; proceed in this way to make your sponge and dough: Take eight quarts hop yeast, or say in proportion to Fleishmann's Compressed Yeast; add twelve quarts of water; regulate the water according to the weather; this will make your sponge. When it has risen and fallen make your dough by adding three pails of water, common size; add twenty-five pounds of lard, two pounds of salt, and work your dough well. A very good way for new beginners is to work half the saleratus in half of the dough; then try, and if not enough add a little more and try; if too much, add some of the dough that has none in, and to that has none in added less than you did in the first half. This is a sure way for beginners. This same dough makes oyster crackers, but if making may you make a separate dough for them, adding only twenty pounds of lard to the one and one-half barrel of flour."
---Secrets of the Bakers and Confectioners' Trade, J.D. Hounihan [J.D. Hounihan:Staunton VA] 1883 (p. 12) [Professional industry text, no docking]
"Soda crackers (Biscuits de Soda)
1 Quart of Flour
3 Tablespoonfuls of Butter
2 Cups of Sweet Milk or Water
1/2 Teaspoonful of Soda
1 Teaspoonful of Salt
Sift the flour several times, and add the salt. Mix well. Then rub in the butter thorougly. Add the soda, which you will have dissolved in a little boiling water, and the milk and mix all well together. Then knead well and put upon the biscuit board an beat with a rolling pin for upwards of half an hour, frequently rolling the dough over, and beating hard until the air bubbles cover every part, above and below. The roll out into a nice square, even sheet of dough, about one eighth of an inch in thickness, and cut into nice square cakes. Stick through and through with a fork here and there over the the surface in even rows, and bake them in a moderate oven till they are hard and crisp, but not brown. Then hang in a muslin bag for about two days to thoroughly dry, and they are ready to be served."
---The Picayune's Creole Cook Book, 2nd edition, New Orleans:1901 reprinted [Dover:1971] (p. 401)
The practice of combining hard bread with liquid nourishment is ancient. Roman biscuits and gruel, Medieval sops and stew, 18th century hard tack and soup, and early 19th century common crackers and fish chowder are part of a long tradition of using bread to extend thin foods to fill hungry bellies. Oyster crackers are part of this tradition. These bite-sized crackers are closely related to common crackers. Their lighter composition is the by-product of mid-19th century leaveners, most notably baking soda. Today's manufactured oyster cracker products are closer to saltines than common crackers.
Why the name "oyster cracker?" Food reference books do not specifically address this question. There are (at least) two possibilities based on the history of the product: 1. They were used in chowders (thus the association with oysters) and 2. They looked like oysters (crackers are three-dimensional if not stamped flat; these lumpy white crackers might have looked like oysters in shape and color.)
If there has been a constant in the history of chowder, at least for the last two hundred years, it is the common cracker. A perfect companion for chowder, the common cracker has remained unchanged...These round pufffed, hollow, very hard crackers have been manufactured in New England for so long...The common cracker descended from hard tack, also called ship's biscuit--a very dense, unleavened brick of baked flour. Necessity wrote this recipe, since flour would not keep in the damp and vermin-infested conditions aboard ship. Hardtack was also a staple of all along the coast of New England and in the Maritime Provinces of Canada...Hardtack had to be shaved or shopped off the baked brick, then soaked with water then soften before it could be used for chowder and other dishes."
---50 Chowders: One-pot Meals-Clam, Corn & Beyond, Jasper White [Scribner:New York] 2000 (p. 205-6)
According to The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 331), what we know today as the modern "oyster cracker" is a direct descendant the Trenton [NJ] cracker:
A light, puffy round cracker made from wheat flour, vegetable shortening, salt, and yeast. It is a traditional eastern cracker used in oyster stews. The Trenton cracker was first made in 1848 by Adam and John Exton, two English immigrants who created the item in the Trenton, New Jersey, bakery. They called it the "Exton Oyster and Butter Cracker and Wine Scroll Biscuit." Within a short time more than thirty competitors were making imitations, including Ezekial Pullen, owner of the Pullen Cracker Company in Trenton...This company was later sold and in 1887 became the Original Trenton Cracker."
History of Trenton crackers, 1848.
"Originally the oyster cracker was square, until Dr. E. T. Oakes of the NBC [National Biscuit Company] laboratory, conceived the notion of presenting Oysterette in a hexagonal shape."
---Out of the Cracker Barrel: From Animal Crackers to ZuZu's, William Cahn [Simon & Schuster:New York] 1969 (p. 198)
[NOTE: According to the records of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Oysterettes were introduced to the public in December 1900.]
"100 pounds flour, 8 lbs butter, 6 lbs lard, 8 oz soda, 2 oz tartaric acid, 16 qts milk; cut with an oyster cracker cutter." ---Secrets of the Bakers and Confectioners' Trade, J.D. Hounihan [J.D. Hounihan:Staunton VA] 1883 (p. 150)
[NOTE: This is a professional baker's text. Recipes for oyster crackers do not show up in our cookbooks published for home cooks.]
Vermont common crackers
The Vermont common cracker is a curious thing, on two accounts:
1. According to the food historians Vermont common crackers were New England "inventions" that happened sometime in the early 1800s. There are (at least) two claims as to the inventor. Yet? The name of the cracker first appeared in 1939.
2. According to early 19th century New England cookbooks, biscuits/crackers were puffed bread products which were cut in half and served warm with butter. This makes them somewhat different from the saltine-type Vermont common cracker we enjoy today. Yet? Hardtack and other crisp biscuits were certainly known and consumed.
What does this tell us? Don't bother looking for recipes for "common crackers" in 19th century cookbooks. You will, however, find references to New England/Middle States crackers and cakes. Think: Boston crackers and New York Cookies. The best you can do is examine the primary evidence for an approximating recipe. This makes tracing the Vermont common cracker a bit more challenging. Is the product we enjoy today the same item our foremothers baked? It's hard to tell.
We do we know: The concept of hard crackers (soaked in liquid, as in soup) traces back to Ancient Roman days. Dried bread keeps easily, travels well, and fills the belly. This made it the natural choice of armies, sailors and the like up until recent times. Think hardtack. Colonial-era cookbooks and industrial revolution-era manufacturing/retail literature offer many different types of biscuits and crackers. These vary greatly in size, texture, and purpose.Names for said items range from generic descriptions (souffle biscuits) to place-specific claims (Boston crackers, Westminster crackers, Trenton crackers, etc.) Mid-19th century technological advancements made saltine-type crackers, as we know them today, possible. Some of these traditional recipes were converted to the ligther, more popular method. General notes about oyster crackers & saltines .
Vermont common crackers
According to the Dictionary of American Regional English (Frederic G. Cassidy editor, Volume 1), the first print reference to the term "common cracker" appeared in 1939. Where? Yankee Cook Book (p. 362): "Common Cracker. A large old-fashioned lightly salted cracker also called Boston cracker." This source also places the first print reference to the Boston cracker to 1818, noting it was a type of biscuit (p. 346). Boston crackers were served split with butter. There is no mention in this source regarding crispness.
"Common cracker. Very crisp, hard, thick wheatflour cracker that may be split and grilled with butter or Cheddar cheese, ground into bread crumbs, or eaten in chowders; similar to Boston Cracker. The term first appears in print in 1939. One manufacturer claims common crackers were first baked by Charles Cross about 1830 in his Montpelier, Vermont, bakery, and were called "Cross crackers" or "montpelier crackers." But in the New England Cookbook (1954), Eleanor Early credits the cracker's invention to Artemus Kennedy of Menotomy, Massachusetts, almost two hundred years ago. Early wrote that "Artemus had a large family and it was said that the children learned to retrieve crackers [that Artemus tossed on the floor of a big Dutch oven]...before they could walk. Baking was done three times a week, and Artemus rode about the countryside on his horse selling them from his saddlebags." Whatever their origins, common crackers are no longer easily found, and the news that a Rockingham, Vermont citizen named Vrest Orton had bought the original Charles Cross machinery and begun to sell common crackers again in 1981 was greeted with considerable interest by those who remember the taste of dry, crisp morsels split opened and eaten with good Vermont cheddar."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 92-3)
"Two years ago Cross Crackers, the thick white crackers that filled American cracker barrels for over a century, seemed headed for oblivion as surely as beer in a bucket. The Cross Baking Company, which was in business for 151 years in Vermont and later in New Hampshire, went bankrupt, and its machinery was sold at auction. The demise of the cracker, however, turned out to be greatly exaggerated, and this edible bit of Americana is once again baking on the old equipment in a new bakery addition to the Vermont Country Store, a thriving replica of the real thing, in Weston, Vt. It is a mistake to suppose that the old-time country store cracker barrel, surrounded of course by genial, chatting rural types, was filled with something like saltines. Modern crackers are thin, uniform, Johnny-come-latelies compared with Cross Crackers, which were a mouthful - an inch thick, hard, dry, bland and about as large as the rim of a coffee cup. Their keeping qualities guaranteed that those on the bottom of the barrel would be as firm as those on top. In recent years, when the cracker-barrel trade fell off, the crackers, boxed in a distinctive red and black design, were familiar on New England store shelves. These are the New England ''common crackers'' mystifyingly referred to in recipes. For years they were a staple of the region's diet, with many people eating them crumbled in a bowl with milk. Often called Montpelier crackers after their home town, they were first made by Charles Cross in his Vermont bakery in 1830. He was a canny Yankee entrepreneur who mixed and baked crackers three days a week, using his horse on a treadmill to rotate the special oven. On alternate days the horse pulled the delivery wagon. At that time nearly all country or village stores bought crackers by the barrel, and before long business boomed. Mr. Cross is credited with later installing the world's first cracker machines, and when he died at 93 in 1905 he was the oldest baker in New England... The common cracker is solid and filling, meant for eating one at a time. On its own it tends to be dry and tasteless, qualities that recommend it highly for additions. The easily split cracker takes well to cheese or butter on top, which can be toasted as well. Although recipes, including cracker pudding, have been included in New England cookbooks over the years, the favorite was for puffed crackers.
---"Old-time Crackers Bounce Back," Marily Stout, The New York Times, November 4,1981, (Section C; p.13)
[NOTE: these sources contain a recipe for "Puffed Montpelier Crackers," reprinted from Louise Amdrews Kent's Mrs. Appleyard's Kitchen (1942).]
"Julia Child's focus on the common cracker underlines the importance of serving something crunch to complement and balance the soft texture of chowder. Common crackers, Crown Pilot crackers, or other had crackers should always be offered with chowder, because the toasts are so very dry and crisp that they can be presented in place of crackers...If there has been a constant in the history of chowder, at least for the last two hundred years, it is the common cracker. A perfect companion for chowder, the common cracker has remained unchanged...These round puffed, hollow, very hard crackers have been manufactured in New England for so long that almost no home cook knows how to make them. Even those who do know don't bother, because they take almost two days to make and if you do everything just right, they might turn out as good as the ones you can buy at the store. In and around New England, you can find common crackers in many specialty and seafood markets and sometimes in ordinary supermarkets...At its inception, the common cracker was known as the Boston cracker throughout New England, lending plausibility to the belief that Boston was its place of origin. Ironically, it was Bostonians who coined the name "common crackers," and the name stuck--no one calls them Boston crackers anymore, and no one in Boston manufactures them. The common cracker descended from hardtack, also called ship's biscuit--a very dense, unleavened brick of baked flour. Necessity wrote this recipe, since flour would not keep in the damp and vermin-infested conditions aboard ship. Hardtack was also a staple all along the coast of New England and in the Maritime Provinces of Canada, where villagers faced similar problems with fresh flour...Chowder was a way to make hardtack edible. When the potato became a popular ingredient in the early 1800s, it put hardtack out of the chowder business. Potatoes became the primary thickener in chowders, producing a version that was more brothy and lighter. But the dry cracker didn't go away completely...The new and improved leavened version, the common cracker, was and still is very dry, with a hard exterior and great storage capabilities. But when you split, butter, and toast them, they strike a perfect balance between being crisp enough to crunch, even after sitting in a hot broth for a few minutes, and having a flaky tendernesss..."
---50 Chowders, Jasper White [Scribner:New York] 2000 (p. 203-207)
[NOTES: (1) Julia Child's notes & recipe here. (2) Vermont Common Crackers can be purchased online.]
The New England Economical Housekeeper and Family Receipt Book, Mrs. E.A. Howland [E.P. Walton and Sons:Montpelier VT] 1845 does not contain a recipe for any kind of crackers. It does, however, contain a few recipes which include crackers as an ingredient. These items are more like bread pudding:
113. Cracker Plum Pudding
135. Bird's Nest Pudding
The Improved Housewife, Mrs. A.L. Webster [Stereotyped by Richard H. Hobbs, 5th edition, revised, Hartford CT:1844] includes recipes for hard biscuits and crackers:
Rub six ounces of butter into two pounds of flour; dissolve two teaspoonfuls of salaeratus in a wineglass of milk, and strain it on the flour; add a teaspoonful of salt, and milk sufficient to roll it out. Beat it with a rolling pin for half an hour, pounding it out thin; cut it into cakes with a tumbler; bake them about fifteen minutes, and then take them out of the oven. When the rest of your things are baked enough, take them out, set in the crackers again, and let them remain till baked hard and crispy."
"367. Hard Biscuit
Taker four pounds of flour; rub three pounds and a half of it with a quarter of butter; four well-beaten eggs, and two teaspoonfuls of salt; moisten it with milk, pound it out thin with a rolling pin, and sprinkle a little of the reserved flour lightly over it. Roll it up and pound it out again, and sprinkle on more flour. Continue to repeat this operation till you work in all the reserved flour; then roll it out thin, till you work in all the reserved flour; then roll it out thin, cut into cakes with a tumbler, lay them on flat, buttered tins, and cover them with a damp cloth to prevent their drying. Bake them in a quick oven."
Put two teaspoonfuls of salearatus to a pint of sour milk. If you have no sour milk, put a spoonful of vinegar to a pint of sweet milk, and set it in a warm place. As soon as the milk curdles, mix it with the salaeratus, put in two spoonfuls of melted butter, and flour to make stiff enough to roll out. Mould into small biscuit, and bake immediately."
Julia Child's Common Cracker notes & recipe
"As any New Englander knows, you can't enjoy a real New England chowder without toasted common crackers. These are not like pilot biscuits or saltines; they are softly crackly, layered, somewhat puffy round crackers about 1 1/4 inches in diameter. You split them in half, butter them, and toast them, and then you crumble them into your chowder. They are difficult to find outside of the New England area, and the recipe has always been a locked-up secret. Our team decided we would break the monopoly, and our own determined Kathleen, after making thirty-eight different versions, finally, on October 25, 1994, came up with a winner. Her it is--a strange method, but a very special cracker.
Kathleen Annino's Cape Cod Common Crackers
Manufacturing note: You can do all of this by hand, but Kathleen recommends a heavy-duty mixer with paddle and dough hook attachments, and a hand-cranking pasta machine.
Ingredients for about 5 1/2 dozen round crackers 1 1/2 inches across and 3/4 inch thick.
For the yeast starter
1 1/2 teaspoons dry-active yeast
1 cup warm water (105 F to 110 F)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup bread flour (available in health food stores)
For the cracker dough
1 cup yeast starter
1 to 1 1/4 cups bread flour
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) vegetable shortening or lard
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon instant potato flakes
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
An additional 1 1/2 to 2 cups bread flour
Making the starter: Whisk all the ingredients together into a batter, and store in a covered container at room temperature (70 F to 75 F) for at least 24 hours or up to 60 hours. It will rise and form large bubbles, then subside and separate.
Making the Cracker Dough: Knead enough flour into 1 cup of the starter to make a firm ball of dough. Cover and let rest for 1 hour. In a separate bowl, whisk the shortening of lard, salt, potato flakes, brown sugar, and baking soda together, mixing in the water and lemon juice at the end. Knead this liquid into the ball of dough, using the paddle attachment. Gradually knead in the additional flour, changing to the dough hook as the dough stiffens. After about 5 minutes you should have a stiff, smooth ball.
Rolling Out the Dough: Cut the dough into quarters. One at a time, roll a piece of dough into a rectangle 3/8 inch thick and, starting at one of the short ends, put through the pasta rollers, fold into three like a business letter, give a quarter turn, and roll again. Repeat the process six times in all and going down to position #6 on the machine. Use as little flour as possible. The final dough should be no thicker than 1/4 inch. meanwhile, preheat the oven to 435 F.
Forming and Baking: Cut 1 1/2-inch rounds out of the rolled pieces, and press the tines of a table fork thorugh the rounds in two places. Arrange 1/4 inc apart on no-stick or parchment-paper-lined baking sheets. Bake for about 8 minutes, until the crackers have risen, are light golden-brown, and feel firm to the touch.
Drying Out and Storing: Lower the thermostat to 200 F and let the crackers dry out in the oven for 2 hours or longer-- to dehydrate and crips the inner layers.
Ahead-of-Time Note: When completely cool, store in an airtight container. If they become stale or soft, reheat for 5 minutes or so in a 400 F oven."
---In Julia's Kitchen With Master Chefs, Julia Child [Alfred A. Knopf:New York] 1995 (p. 225)
Our research indicates Boston Common Crackers were variously known throughout New England with state names (Vermont Common Crackers) or simply as Common Crackers. These items were small, soft, split plain crackers (almost tiny muffins) that were often paired with chowder. They were soft & puffy & could be warmed and split. Kind of like a chewy cross between today's modern English muffin & crispy oyster cracker. About Vermont crackers: http://foodtimeline.org/foodcookies.html#vermont In the late 19th/early 20th century common crackers did double duty as pie fillers and cracker pudding (think: bread pudding with these crackers). 1914 was a time of rampant inflation/economic hardship/war for the USA & much of Europe. Using crackers was generally recommended as a thrifty alternative for some recipes.
Today most folks have heard of Vermont Common Crackers, but not Boston Common Crackers (aka Boston Crackers). It helps to know that in the early 20th century the Boston appellation was also unknown to the general reader:
"It is doubtful of a large number of people know what the Boston cracker in these days of trade marked brands. It is not found in this part of the country often. It is a round cracker which will split in hales and is agreeable toasted and for some other purposes to which the square crackers do not lend themselves so readily."
---"Economical Housekeeping," Jane Eddington, Chicago Daily Tribune, July 24, 1911 (p. 4)
[NOTE: This article offers a recipe for Mock Mince Pie with Boston crackers, "rolled fine." (crushed?)]
"Unsalted crackers, called in New England common or Boston crackers, are still added to chowders by some cooks but most often they are served either split or crumbled in the finished dish."
---"New England's Hearty Chowder," Kay Shaw Nelson, Washington Post, January 17, 1974 (p. D1)
According to the records of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) introduced their stylish Ritz crackers November 1, 1934:
Word Mark RITZ Goods and Services IC 030. US 046. G & S: BAKERY PRODUCTS-NAMELY, BISCUIT. FIRST USE: 19341101. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19341101 Mark Drawing Code (3) DESIGN PLUS WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS Design Search Code 260112 260118 260121 Serial Number 71358561 Filing Date November 23, 1934 Owner (REGISTRANT) NATIONAL BISCUIT COMPANY CORPORATION NEW JERSEY 449 WEST 14TH STREET NEW YORK NEW YORK
"Ritz, pride of the Nabisco cracker fleet, has been the premium cracker of choice since its inception in 1934. But its history dates back to the early nineteenth century. It was in 1801, in fact, that the Ritz cracker got its beginnings.It was in that year that John Bent, a retired sea captain, adapted a hardtack recipe into a product more palatable to the general public. He took the hardened "biscuit" (an English designation used at that time) and added leavening agents until the product was a flat, crisp biscuit. Bent's family handled the baking chores while he traveled the countryside selling crackers from his wagon. The basic cracker recipe was refined four years later by the Kennedy Biscuit Works, which used sponge dough for a lighter consistency. In 1898 the Bent baker, Kennedy Biscuit Works, and dozens of other bakeries across America joined forces to form the National Biscuit Company...In 1934 the recipe was perfected, resulting in a smooth, flaky cracker hinting of butter. Contrary to the pale, square crackers widely sold, these creations were golden and rounded, with serrated edges. A company-wide cracker naming contest yeilded the name Ritz. Mass production of Ritz crackers began in Nabisco's North Philadelphia bakery and on November 21, 1934, the new product was introduced at markets in Philadelphia and Baltimore. Consumers responded to this new type of cracker...By 1935 Ritz was distributed nationally. It was initially marketed as a taste of affordable luxury, no small claim during the Depression years. The positioning worked, with Ritz selling in the five-billion volume area...during its first year of nationwide distribution. Some of this success can be attributed to the product's relatively low price; mass production by Nabisco, the only baking manufacturer with the facilities to distribute nationwide at that time, kept the price of a box of Ritz crackers to an affordable 19 cents."
---Encyclopedia of Consumer Brands, Volume 1:Consumable Products, Janice Jorgenson editor [St. James Press:Detroit] 1994 (p. 494)
[NOTE: This book describes Ritz' evolution and marketing strategies. If you need more details ask your librarian to help you find a copy.]
"The National Biscuit Company launched a new and permanent cracker sensation in the early 1930's. For years the company had been seeking a buttery creacker to compete with others in the field. After a long period of experimentation, a formula was produced. The new product was called "Ritz." It was a butter cracker, different from a soda cracker in that it had more shortening and no yeast. It was consequently crisper and less fluffy. A thick coat of coconut oil and a sprinkling a salt were spread over the cracker after it had gone through the oven. The recipe seemed simple. But the taste evidently had a special appeal. Furthermore, Ritz was introduced as a prestige item with such promotional headlines as "Anytime is the right time to serve Ritz," "Tomorrow's cracker--today," and "Almost overnight, America's most popular cracker." The Ritz cracker took the country by storm. The company baked more than 5,000,000 in the first year. In three years--aided by imaginative promotion--Ritz became the largest-selling cracker in the world with more than 29,000,000 baked daily. It became a staple in a huge number of American households and in foreign nations as well. In Europe a box of Ritz was presented to a girl friend much as a boy in America presents a box of candy."Out of the Cracker Barrel: From Animal Crackers to ZuZu's, William Cahn [New York:Simon & Schuster] 1969 (p. 247-8)
"It was during these gloomy days [the Great Depression] that Nabisco cheered everyone up with a round, buttery, crunchy cracker it called Ritz, hoping to conjure up images of Manhattan's posh Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Like the hotel, the Ritz Cracker was a luxury, but at 19 cents a box most people could afford it and soon made it the best-selling cracker in the world."
---The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997 (p. 32)
The oldest print reference we find for Ritz Crackers is this:
"Uneeda Baker's Ritz Crackers, 1 lb pkg, 19 cents,"
---display ad, Chicago Tribune, January 11, 1935 (p. 18)
Ritz cracker ad, circa 1936, described the crackers this way:
"Guess what! It's something you're crazy about--Try Ritz...they're marvelous alone...and see how they improve appetites for salads and vegetables. You've never known a cracker like Ritz. A flavor that just can't be described. A tastiness that remindes you of fresh-roasted nuts. A delicate tang that refreshes like salt sea air. Crust? The same secret process that creates Ritz' famous flavor provides a brand new kind of crackling crispness. And this delicious crispness lasts from ovens to you! You'll know at first taste why Ritz became America's most popular cracker almost overnight. Try Ritz today. Enjoy them alone, or with meat pastes and other relishes. The see how they bring out hidden flavor in soups, salads, cheeses and even the plainest economy dishes. Pound and half-pound packages."
---full-page display ad, Good Housekeeping, September 1936 (p. 142)
It is said that the cracker was named for our town because we provided the flour used in making the crackers at the National Biscuit Company plant in Portland, Oregon. Fact or fiction?
Fiction. According to Nabisco, Ritz Crackers were named thusly because they conjured up the image of wealth and glamour. This was a brilliant marketing ploy for an affordable product launched during the Great Depression. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines ritz/ritzy this way: "Ritzy [Ritz hotels, noted for their opulence] (1920). 1. Ostentatiously smart: fashionable, posh. 1. Snobbish." Mass production of this cracker was conducted in North Philadelphia.
The Ritzville connection
"Townspeople here [Ritzville WA] even like to say--apocryphally, alas, according to the Nabisco Company--that the Ritz cracker was named for Ritzville. (A Nabisco spokesman says "Ritz" was chosen in the Depression because of its "luxurious, hight-class" connotation.)"
---"Fields of Flame Follow The Harvest of Wheat," Sam Howe Verhovek, New York Times, August 23, 1999 (p. A10)
We do not find evidence that Nabisco did business with Ritzville. We do, however, find a connection between Nabisco and the Martin Milling Company in Cheney, WA. Unfortunately, without specific reference to supplying flour for Ritz crackers. If there's any connection between this town and Ritz crackers, perhaps this is it:
Behind 601 First St. (1918-1997). This is a large complex composed of older and newer buildings. On two sides of the tower, facing northwest and southeast, are molded concrete shields enclosing the capital letter "M" for "Martin." The buildings of this complex contain milling equipment and flour moving equipment such as augers and bucket elevators. Cheney had several grain storage and milling facilities during its early days and acted as a regional center for concentrating supplies of harvested grain and processing flour. Such activity was a mainstay of the town's economy. As early as 1888, the Cheney Flouring Mills and the Northern Pacific Elevator Company operated large wood frame plants along the railroad tracks. Both of these facilities were gone by 1905. In that year F.M. Martin owned a hay and grain warehouse in a large wood frame building beside the railroad tracks. Mr. Martin began his grain milling business in 1907 on this site. This enterprise not only developed the capacity to store large amounts of grain, but also to mill it into wheat at the same location. The nearby Northern Pacific Railroad tracks facilitated this operation. Harvested grain could be brought to the storage elevators by train, milled into flour, and then shipped to clients. At some point, the storage areas and the mill were expanded and a three-story grain elevator (wood crib construction) was added, which subsequently burned in the mid-1910s. Undeterred, Martin rebuilt on site, this time with fire-proof reinforced concrete. The current flour mill and the bank of grain elevators to the northeast were completed in 1918. Additional and larger concrete elevators were added in 1922 and 1923. Subsequent concrete structures were added to the plant between 1933 and 1954. The Martin Grain and Milling Company remained in the Martin family until 1943, when the buildings and equipment was sold to the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco). The business was subsequently operated by several companies, including Ralston-Purina, Centennial Mills and, at present, ADM Milling Company.
---City of Cheney, WA
Related food? Mock Apple Pie.
Why do some crackers have holes in them?
Soda and [other types of] crackers have holes in them to help keep the product even in texture, flat in shape and crisp to taste. The process by which the hole are made is called "docking." Holes are spaced evenly to facilitate the evenness of the cracker. Prior to industrialization, crackers were pierced by hand using knives, nails and hand-held tools made of cast iron specially designed for the purpose. Elizabeth David describes a old-fashioned docker as "a dangerous-looking utensil consisting of sharp heavy spikes driven into a bun-shaped piece of wood." English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David [Viking:New York] 1980 (p. 200). Why is this process called docking? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., Volume IV (p. 912) the origin of this word as it relates to biscuit-making is unknown. The first use of this term in print is dated 1840. In 1875 "The biscuit was then docked, that is, pierced with holes by an instrument adapted to the purpose...A stamping or docking frame..."
Is the a symbolic significance to the number of holes in a cracker? According to the experts at Bent's Cookie Factory, the answer is no. The purpose of the holes is keep the product crisp and even. The number and placement of the holes is determined by the size and shape of the cracker. There is no evidence to support the theory that 13 holes in colonial crackers/hardtack stood for the thirteen colonies. In fact? There is no evidence that there were 13 holes in these crackers at all!
In many English speaking countries, the word "biscuit" refers to a hard cookie or cracker. In the United States biscuits are generally small soft, yeast-based products served with breakfast or dinner. They perform a variety of functions including filling (hungry bellies), topping (eg. pies) and sopping (eg. biscuits & gravy). Cowboy-style biscuits were rustled up by pioneers and overland travelers in makeshift ovens. Cathead biscuits and beaten biscuits are two popular American regional favorites. Refrigerator biscuits (packed in a tube, ready to bake) debuted in 1931.
"Biscuit...The word derives from the Latin words "bis" (twice) plus "coctus" (cooked). In England a biscuit is what Americans usually call a cracker or cookie. The American meaning for biscuit was first noted by John Palmer in his Journal of Travels in the United States of North America, and in Lower Canada, (1818), and by 1828 Webster defined the confection as "a composition of flour and butter, made and baked in private families." In general usage such puffy leavened little breads were called "soda biscuits" or "baking-soda biscuits," in contrast to the unleavened cracker type....Recipes for soda biscuits are found in every nineteenth-century cookbook, especially with reference to the cookery of the South...The South is also the home of the beaten biscuit, which was first mentioned in 1853...In 1930 General Mills began selling a packaged quick biscuit mix called Bisquick that was a great success and spawned many imitators."
---The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (page 29)
Huge as a cat's head, served up hot with with Sawmill Gravy. An Appalchian down-home favorite!
"There, in the Blackstone kitchen, Berry's grand chefs, Vernie and Floyd Nabors, turned out Sunday morning biscuits that melted in one's mouth. Particularly if you opened one up and added fresh butter along with the generous portion of the Berry-made apple butter...One of my classmates put it for me in hushed tones: "What you see there, Joe, is what we call the Cathead Bsicuit, the gift of an all-knowing and benevolent God." Mountain people, he explained, were particularly partial to the giant-size biscuits, which were destined by the Almighty to go with milk-enhanced sawmill gravy, another mountain favorite...Indeed the "cathead"--an Applachian phenomenon--was the precursor to the even larger size biscuits offered today by chains such as Hardee's and Mrs. Winner's. The big difference between regular-size buttermilk biscuits and the catheads was that with most "cats," the cook pinched off handfuls of dough rather than rolling it out and using a biscuit cutter...
Bryson City Cathead Biscuits
2 1/4 cups flour
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
5 tablespoons lard
1 cup buttermilk.
Sift and mix dry ingredients then blend with lard. Add buttermilk. For each biscuit, pinch off a portion of dough about the shape of a large egg and pat out with your hands. Bake in 350 degree F. oven in wood stove about 10 minutes. In a modern electric or gas oven, bake at 475 to 500 degrees."
---Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread, & Scuppernong Wine, Joseph E. Dabney [Cumberland House:Nashville TN] 1999 (p. 114-5)
The two main types of biscuits made by chuckwagon cooks were soda and sourdough. Their only method for baking was the Dutch oven. This portable iron pot sat up from the fire on three small feet. This allowed air to flow through the bottom. The lid was lipped, making it easy to pile heated rocks on top for more even baking. It was reliable but had no scientific temperature controls.
"Baking powder biscuits
3 cups flour
6 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoon fat (lard or bacon drippings)
Approx. 1 cup of milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Sift together dry ingredients, then rub in lard with fingertips, until flaky. Pour about a cupful milk to moisten. Turn out on well floured board and pat about 1/2 inch tricknesss. Cut with biscuit cutter and place in greased dutch oven that has been slightly preheated. Biscuits should be touching but not crowded. Place preheated lid on oven and cover with hot coals. Place on bed of good red coals and let bake about twenty minutes or until brown on top and bottom."
--Clair Haight, Hashknife Outfit, Winslow AZ, 1922 (reprinted in: Chuck Wagon Cookin', by Stella Hughes [University of Arizona Press:Tuscon AZ] 1974 (p. 123))
"Mrs. E.'s soda biscuits
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons lard or margarine
3/4 to 1 cup milk
Sift dry ingredients together. Add and cut into flour mixture. Add milk, a little at a time, stirring with a fork. Add as much of the milk as necessary to make a very soft dough. Roll out 1/2 inch and cut with a small biscuit cutter. Bake at 425 degree for 15-20 minute. Makes 15 biscuits."
The above recipe is adapted from this original text (notice the lack of oven temp!): "1 quart flour, 2 heaping tablespoonfuls lard, 2 cups sweet milk, or you can take can milk, 1 teaspoonful soda, 2 teaspoonfuls cream of tartar, 1 teaspoonful salt. Rub soda and cream of tartar into flour dry. Next the lard. Lastly the milk. Work with as little handling as possible. The dough should be very soft. Cut more than half inch thick and bake in a quick oven."
---An Army Wife's Cookbook, Alice Kirk Grierson (recipes collected 1850s-1870s).
ABOUT BISCUITS & GRAVY
Biscuits and gravy is traditionally connected to the American South. Althought it can be served at any meal, the most popular meal appears to be breakfast. Historic cookbooks contain many recipes for biscuits but no information with regards to smothering them with gravy. Perhaps it was "understood." Most cookbooks stress serving biscuits HOT from the oven, with butter. We find notes referencing the combination of biscuits and gravy in current southern-American cookbooks. Sadly, they do not impart much in the way of history. This book sums it up best:
"Eggs fried in bacon drippings, escorted by country ham, hot biscuits, grits with butter and red-eye gravy, and a cup of coffee so hot that the less acquainted might term it "scalding"--these aren't merely the makings of a Southern breakfast, they're the substance of a Southern lifeblood...Southerners can probably thank the English for their skepticism toward "fancy" food in general and for the notion that breakfast isn't really breakfast unless it contains meat and grains--in quantity. The English colonists brought with them their preference for puddings, porridge, meat pies, beef, mutton, and pork. In fact , the appearance of ham on the breakfast plates of Southeners can probably be traced to the first pigs that were carried from England to Jamestown, Virginia in 1608...Even after the Civil War, when many Southerners were attempting to modify their image and also their food, pork and pone continued to be inextricably bound together on many breakfast tables...The Southern breakfast saw its heyday during the plantation era of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries--when breakfast was the first and most substantial meal of the day. As Southern lore has it, planation owners generally would begin the day with a julep or brandy, then inspect the crops, and sit down to a large breakfast at ten AM..."
---Around the Southern Table, Sarah Belk [Simon & Schuster:New York] 1991 (p. 335-6)
[NOTE: This is an excellent book full of history snippets and traditional recipes. Your librarian can help you find a copy.]
"Gravy implies a certain excess. And a certain economy. Spread butter or jam on a biscuit and you better it. But ladle sawmill gravy on a biscuit, unitl the crown of that biscuit can barely be seen amid a pool of sausage-pocked gravy, and you transform a quick bread into a feed suited for plow hands...The Southern way with gravies as born of privation...And when folks are poor they make do. Which means folks make gravy."
---The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook, Sara Roahen & John T. Edge editors [University of Georgia Press: Athens GA] 2010 (p. 15)
[NOTE: this book offers recipes for Breakfast shrimp gravy, Butterbean gravy, Creole red gravy, Tomato gravy, Redeye gravy, Mississippi Madras okra gravy, Oyster gravy, Roan Mountain Corn gravy, Sawmill Gravy, & Sopping chocolate (aka Chocolate gravy).]
"Red-eye gravy served with ham and grits is arguably the most "Southern" of any Southern breakfast combination. The origin of the name of this gravy, however, is somewhat mythical. According to one theory, Andrew Jackson once asked a cook for gravy as red as the cook's eyes. Another source purports that the appearance of a "red eye" in the middle of a pan of a correctly made ham gravy reduction is what gives this sauce its name. The propular way to make it is perhaps equally contentious...Served on hot toasted cornbread, this makes a delightful breakfast."
---ibid (p. 347)
About milk gravies
Sauce/gravy recipes were introduced to the New World by European settlers. These ranged from very simple fat & flour combinations to complicated French reductions. Milk/cream based gravy [aka white gravy] was among the simpler concoctions. This vesatile gravy adapted easily to "ingredients at hand" which made them popular with folks facing hard times. They were quick to make, easy to store, added flavor to otherwise basic foods, and filled the belly. Milk gravy recipes appear in American cookbooks from colonial days to present. This evidence suggests they were not "invented" during the Civil War. They were, however, likely adapted to incorporate whatever ingredients were available at the time. In modern times, milk gravy was sometimes made with manufactured products, such as dried/canned milk or cream. As with most gravy/sauce recipes, there are dozens of variations.
Sawmill gravy is Applachia's version of milk gravy. Why the name?
"Although some theorize on how the black pepper and sausage crumbles resemble sawdust, it's more likely that gravies like this got their names in the lumber camps. It's a dishj devined by and perfected for working-class Southerners, the sort of folks who earn their wages muscling logs into planers at sawmills."
---The Southern Foodways Allicance Community Cookbook, Sara Roahen and John T. Edge editors [University of Georgia Press: Athens] 2010 (p. 24)
"It is rare to find in any cookbook a recipe for this quite common and popular companion to hot biscuits. Th reasons probably have more to do with the social and economic class than anything else; sawmill gravy is commonly thought of as a subsistence food of the poor, and cookbooks seldom focus on such fare...The barest scraps of meat and a little milk are enough to make a delicious gravy, and in lean times, many a family has gotten by on a combination of meat grease, flour, and water. Even the name suggests poverty. By some accounts, it derives from the fact that sawmill crews often subsisted on little more than coffee, biscuits, and gravy. In some parts of Kentucky, this dish was called poor-do--a little something on which the poor made do. Native Kentuckian Jane Brock Woodall recalls that her grandmother in Casey County made the gravy from sausage or chicken dregs, and when there was not enough food to go around, the men ate first and got whatever meat there was and the women and children got by on poor-do. Elsewhere, people would have shunned anything called poor-do or even sawmill gravy ate essentially the same thing and called it white gravy or cream gravy. By whatever name, it was and is a flavorful and familiar dish on many Southern tables." ---Southern Food: at home,on the road, in history , John Egerton [University of North Carolina Press:Chapel Hill] 1993 (p. 194-195)
"Sawmill gravy (or Logging gravy). In the years following the turn of the century, logging camps sprang up all over the Smoky Mountains where timber companies had bought up tracts of virgin timber. Lumberjacks and sawmillers by the hundreds came in to snake out the logs to nearby streams, sawmills, and newly built railheads. Entire families moved in with the men to the camps. To feed the multitude was a big challenge. Breakfasts usually consisted of coffee and meat plus flour-based gravies and large "cathead" biscuits. On e day, the story goes, the Tremont camp ran out of flour and had to substitute cornmeal in the gravy. Inquisitive loggers arriving before breakfast asked what kind of gravy was on the menu that day. "This gravy's made out of sawdust!" the cooks replied. The name stuck. The cheap, easy-to-fix cornmeal gravy caught on. While "sawmill gravy" was the popular nickname, some called itn "Logging Gravy." Others named it Poor Do or Life Everlasting, a reference to what many felt was its role in keeping them alive. This recipe adapation comes from Janice Miracle of Middlesboro, Kentucky...
"Life Everlasting" Sawmill Gravy
3 heaping tablespoons white cornmeal
1 tablespoon bacon drippings
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups milk
A dash of pepper
In a frying pan, combine cornmeal, bacon drippings, and salt. Stir until brown. Add milk and let boil until gravy thickens. Stir forcefully to keep gravy from pumping. Add pepper to taste."
---Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread and Scuppernong Wine: The Folklore and Art of Southern Appalachian Cooking, Joseph E. Dabney [Cumberland House:Nashville TN] 1998 (p. 207-8)
"White or Drawn Gravy.
This kind of gravy, to avoid expense and trouble, should be made of the liquor in which fresh meat, poultry or game has been boiled. Put it away in a covered vessel, and in cold weather it will keep good for several days: then, by adding the different catchups, &c., with a little butter, flour and cream to thicken it, you can have nice gravy in a few minutes' warning; and besides that, it is saving what otherwise might be thrown away."
---The Kentucky Housewife, Mrs. Lettice Bryan (facimile 1839 reprint) [Image Graphics:Paducah KY] (p. 164)
General observations on biscuits & gravy. Alternative gravies served with biscuits:: tomato gravy & chocolate gravy?
About beaten biscuits
These unusual biscuits are generally connected with the mid-Atlantic and southern Appalachian regions. Marlyand Beaten Biscuit recipes are good examples. Food historians trace the practice of "beating" bread to England, possibly as far back as the 16th century.
"Recipe for soda biscuits are found in every nineteeth-century cookbook, especially with reference to the cookery of the South, where biscuits with ham remain a specialty. The South is also home of the "beaten biscuit," which was first mentioned in 1853. This curious confection, known in Maryland as a "Maryland biscuit," is rarely made today, but was once common in the South,where the sound of a mallet beating the biscuit dough was a nostalgic morning sound."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 29) Mr. Mariani lists the sources he uses in The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink at the end of his book. The 1853 reference for [Maryland Beaten Biscuits is this:
"1853 (1982) Lea, Domestic Cookery 69: MD, Maryland Biscuit. Rub half a pound of lard into three pounds of flour; put in a spoonful of salt, a tea-cup of cream, and water sufficient to make it into a stiff dough; divide it into two parts, and work each well till it will break off short, and is smooth; (some pound it with an iron hammer, or axe;) cut it up into small pieces, and work them into little round cakes."
---Dictionary of American Regional English, Frederic G. Cassidy chief editor, Volume III I-O [Cambridge MA:Belknap Press of Harvard University Press] 1996 (p. 528)
"Beaten biscuits are, like grits, very much of a mystery to the uninitiated. They may be the forerunner of the modern raised biscuit, but these chewy, unleavened morsels resmeble more the hard tack produced by early European bakers for armies and navies than anything else served up in the modern South. Pilot bread and sea biscuit are terms for similar breads that reflect their practical use. Country ham was for some time wedded the beaten biscuit in Southern cuisine. At the most traditional fancy parties and weddings, biscuits no bigger than a quarter are invariably served up with baked, cured ham sliced as thin as imaginable sandwiched inside and spiked with mustard. Otherwise, beaten biscuits are rarely seen anymore. They sound harder to make than they are...those who enjoy a physical relationship with their doughs should be in heaven here. There is no getting around the activity. Fifteen minutes of heavy, consistent abuse is the minimum. You can use a rolling pin, a hammer, the side of an axe; whatever, it must be heavy...In the old days, the dough was beaten on a tree stump in the yard. When properly beaten, the dough will blister at each blow. it will develop a strange plastic quality and be smoother than any other bread dough you have ever seen...The biscuits, when done, will be dry throughout, yet soft in the middle."
---Biscuits, Spoonbread, and Sweet Potato Pie, Bill Neal [Alfred A. Knopf:New York] 1996 (p. 39)
Culinary evidence confirms beaten biscuits (aka Maryland Beaten Biscuits, Maryland Biscuits, Apoquiniminc Cakes, Hard Biscuits) predate 1853. Early recipes required butter and likely produced specimens similar to plain biscuits (sugarless sugar cookies). Mid-19th century recipes employed lard, an economical alternative. This would have produced a cruder product, a little lighter than hard tack. What an interesting declination of food preparation!
Compare these recipes:
"To Make Fine Biscuit Bread
Take a pound of fine flour, and a pound of sugar, and mingle it together [with] a quarter of a pound of aniseeds, four eggs, [and] two or three spoonfuls of rose water. Put all thse into an earthen pan and with a slice of wood beat it the space of two hours. Then fill your moulds half full. Your moulds must be made of tin. Then let it into your oven, being so hot as it were for cheat bread. Let it stand one hour and an half. You must anoint your moulds with butter before you put in your stuff. And when you will occupte [make use] of it, slice it thin and dry it in your oven, your oven being no hotter than you may abide your hand in the bottom."
---The Good Housewife's Jewel, Thomas Dawson, with an introduction by Maggie Black [Southover Press:East Sussex] 1996 (p. 79)
"Warm two ounces of butter in as much skimmed milk as will make a pound of flour into a very stiff paste, beat it with a rolling pin, and work it very smooth. Roll it thin, and cut it into round biscuits; prick them full of holes with a fork. About six minutes will bake them."
---The Female Instructor: or Young Woman's Guide to Domestic Happiness, [Thomas Kelly:London] 1817 (p. 473)
Put a little salt, one egg beaten, and four ounces of butter, in a quart of flour; make it into a paste with new milk, beat it for half an hour with a pestel, roll the paste think, and cut it into round cakes; bake them on a gridiron and be careful not to burn them."
---The Virginia Housewife, Mary Randolph, facsimile 1824 edition with Historical Notes and Commentaries by Karen Hess [Columbia:University of South Carolina Press] 1984 (p. 170)
Take any quantity of flour you think the size of the family may require; put in salt, and a lump or table-spoonful of good lard; rub it well in the flour; then moisten it with new milk, work it well, and beat it with a rolling-pin until perferctly light. On the lightness depends the goodness of the biscuit. Bake rather slowly, a light brown."
---Cookery as it Should Be: A New Manual of the Dining Room and Kitchen, A Practical Housekeeper and Pupil of Mrs. Goodfellow [Willis P. Hazard:Philadelphia] 1853 (p. 184)
Take two quarts of sifted wheat flour, and add a small tea-spoonful of salt. Rub into the pan of flour a large quarter of a pound of lard, and add, gradually, warm milk enough to make a very stiff dough. Knead the lump of doung long and hard, and pound it on all sides with a rolling pin. Divide the dough into several pieces, and knead and pound each piece separately. This must go on for two or three hours, continually kneading and pounding, otherwise it will be hard, tough, and indigestible. Then make it into small round thick biscuits, prick them with a fork, and bake them a pale brown. This is the most labourious of cakes, and also the most unwholesome, even when made in the best manner. We do not recommend it; but there is not accounting for tastes. Children should not eat these biscuits-nor grown persons either, if they can get any other sort of bread. When living in a town where there are bakers, there is no excuse for making Maryland biscuit. Believe nobody that says they are not unwholesome. Yet we have heard of families, in country places, where neither the mistress nor the cook knew anyother preparation of wheat bread. Better to live on Indian cakes."
---Miss Leslie's New Cookery Book, Eliza Leslie [T.B. Peterson:Philadelphia PA] 1857 (p. 432)
[NOTE: "Indian cakes" refers to bread products made with maize meal. They were generally regarded as inferior to wheat products.]
"Maryland Beat Biscuit
Take one quart of flour, add one teaspoonful of salt, one tablespoonful of lard, half tablespoonful of butter. Dry rub the lard and butter into the four unitl well creamed; add your water gradually in mixing so as to make dough stiff, then put the dough on pastry board and beat until perfectly moist and light. Roll out the dough to thickness of third of an inch. Have your stove hot and bake quickly. To make more add twice the quantity."
---What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, Mrs. Fisher, facsimile 1881 reprint with historical notes by Karen Hess [Applewood Books:Boston] 1995 (p. 9)
1 pint of flour
1 rounded tablespoon of lard
1 good pinch of salt
Mix with very cold sweet milk to a stiff dough. Work 150 times through a kneader. Roll into sheet one-half inch thick. Cut out or make out with the hands. Stick with a fork and bake in a hot oven about twenty minutes till a rich brown."
---The Blue Grass Cook Book, Minne C. Fox, fascimile 1904 reprint with an introduction by John Fox Jr. [University of Kentucky Press:Lexington KY] 2005 (p. 1)
Maryland Beaten Biscuit
3 pints winter wheat flour, 1/4 lb. Lard, one-half ice water and milk to make a stiff dough, 1 heaping teaspoon salt. Work in the lard, add the liquid and beat with a club for twenty-five minutes. Make in small biscuits and bake in a hot oven."
---Eat, Drink and Be Merry in Maryland, Frederick Philip Steiff [G.P. Putnam:New York] 1932 (p. 186)
Beaten biscuits originated in Maryland more than 200 years ago, when a mixture of soda and cream of tartar was used as leavening. The dough was beaten to make it light and airy. These biscuits became such a necessity that a machine similar to a wringer was invented to manipulate the dough. Even in modern times, this type of biscuit dough is still beaten. By tradition the dough is beaten with a hammer, mallet, or an ax for about 30 minutes. Lard was originally used in the biscuit dough, but today either solid vegetable shortening, margarine, or butter is often substituted.
Makes 3 1/2 to 4 dozen biscuits
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup lard, solid vegetable shortening, margarine, or butter
1/3 cup milk combined with 1/3 cup water
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Cut in the shortening until it resembles coarse meal. Add just enough of the liquid, a little at a time, to make a stiff dough. Knead the dough several times in the bowl and then turn it out on a lightly floured board. Beat the dough for about 30 minutes, turning it several times until it pops and is smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into smooth balls by hand. Place on a cookie sheet and prick each biscuit with a fork, making 3 rows of holes. Make in a preheated 400 degree F. Oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until light brown."
--- Taste of the States: A Food History of America, Hilde Gabriel Lee [Howell Press:Hong Kong] 1992 (p. 45)
What is a Black and White Cookie?
1. It is a soft, round, flat, oversized, chewy drop cake, iced in perfect halves with vanilla and chocolate.
2. It is generally considered a New York City specialty.
3. It is sold fresh in bakeries and delicatessens.
4. It has been around for maybe 100 years.
5. It has no definitive inventor (person/restaurant).
6. It was elevated to national iconic status when Jerry Seinfeld waxed philosophically “Look to the cookie.”
“No one seems to know who invented the Black and White, or where it was first created. George Greenstein, a second-generation Jewish baker who has devoted his retirement to translating the old New York neighborhood bakery recipes into contemporary home recipes…feels they must have been invented at the beginning of the twentieth century by a baker looking for yet another way to use his standard yellow cake. They were clever. They got copied all over town.”
---Arthur Schwartz’s New York City Food, Arthur Schwartz [Steward, Tabori & Chang:New York] 2004 (p. 294)
“The black-and-white had been around forever. Herb Glaser, the baker at Glaser Bake Shop on First Avenue near 87th Street, said that as far as he knew, Glaser's has been making them ever since it opened 96 years ago."
---“'Look to the Cookie': An Ode in Black and White,” William Grimes, New York Times, May 13, 1998 (p. F1)
“…Glaser’s Bake Shop. Herb Glaser isn’t precisely sure why his baker on 87th and 1st on the Upper East Side is credited as the creator of the black-and-white. He just knows his family has been baking them at the same location since around the time it opened, 1902…Well, he sort of knows. ‘I wasn’t around then,’ he says, but that’s the legend and, so far, no one has debunked it.’…Glaser’s has always made two sized of black-and-whites, small ones and not-so-small ones. In the ‘60s, Herb Glaser used to eat at least two of the smaller cookies a day when he’d walk home from school for lunch.”
---“A Tale of Two Cookies,” Jule Banville, Washington City Paper, June 13, 2008 (p. 40-41)
Symbolism & lore
”The black-and-white cookie, that trumpy and oversize mainstay of New York City Bakeries and delis, has not endured by dint of its taste. Unlike other edible icons, like New York cheesecake or bagels, there is no such thing as a delicious black-and-white cookie. They are either edible or inedible. Fresh-baked and home-baked are the best. The form persists as an object lesson. There is, of course, divergent opinion as to the message embodied in the cookie. One school holds that the cookie endures as an icon of balance. And on its shiny black-and-white-frosted surface, the cookie displays at least the peaceful coexistence of opposites good and bad, yin and yang, life and death, ebony and ivory…’Look to the cookie!’ Jerry Seinfeld regaled the crowd waiting in a New York City bakery… He waived the round harlequin above his head like a placard for radical harmony…Balance is not the black-and-white cookie’s only claim on the populace. Some swear it is a metaphor for clarity. In the gray of urban chaos, there is innocence and simplicity, in a black-and-white cookie.”
---“Smart Cookies: Why black-and-whites have assumed deep cultural significance,” Molly O’Neill, New York Times, January 28, 2001 (p. SM29)
" I think of as New York's answer to the Oreo, because there was a ritual to it," said Rochelle Udell, the editor in chief of Self magazine, whose family owned Ratchik's bakery in Brooklyn. "The black-and white always asked the question, which side you start with first? It was graphically appealing, and it allowed you enormous freedom to personalize how you ate it...
---“'Look to the Cookie': An Ode in Black and White,” William Grimes, New York Times, May 13, 1998 (p. F1)
“New Yorkers…can measure a man by the tracks of his teeth imprinted in a black-and-white cookie. And burrowed right down the middle, revealing himself as ambivalent, incapable of choice and afraid of commitment. Center-line attack can also appear judicious. It allows you to savor equal parts of black and white. But the effect of the middle-of-the-road approach is devastating: that which connects becomes instantly devoured, leaving disjointed opposites…In the ‘What’s My Craving?’ section of Chowhound.com… black-and-white devotees trade strategies for damage control…’You start with one flavor and then go to the next…an approved alternative method…Break the B&W in half, then in quarters. Then eat alternative quarters.’”
---“Smart Cookies: Why black-and- whites have assumed deep cultural significance,” Molly O’Neill, New York Times, January 28, 2001 (p. SM29)
[NOTE: Ms. O’Neill states B&W are also called “Half Moons” in Boston and “”Harlequins” in the Midwest.]
[Episode 77,”The Dinner Party,” aired February 4, 1994].
[The Royal Bakery]
ELAINE: Ummm, I love the smell of bakeries.
JERRY: Mmm. Oh look Elaine, the black and white cookie.
JERRY: I love the black and white. Two races of flavor living side by side in harmony. It's a wonderful thing isn't it?...
JERRY: … and a black and white cookie, for me. Peace!... (Jerry and Elaine are waiting in line, Jerry takes a bite of his cookie and then speaks) JERRY: Uhm, see the key to eating a Black and White cookie, Elaine, is you want to get some black and some white in each bite. Nothing mixes better than, vanilla and chocolate. And yet still somehow racial harmony eludes us. If people would only Look to the Cookie -- all our problems would be solved.
ELAINE: Well your views on race relations are just, fascinating. You really should do an Op-Ed piece for the Times. (Op-Ed stands for Opinions and Editorials)
JERRY: Hmm. Look to the cookie Elaine... Look to the cookie.
(Jerry sees a black man on the other side of the bakery eating the same cookie -- Jerry raises his cookie up and so does the man -- in a moment of racial harmony & unity to which he just spoke of.)…
JERRY: I don’t know, I don't feel so good.
ELAINE: What's wrong?
JERRY: My stomach, I , think it was that cookie.
ELAINE: The black and white?
ELAINE: Not getting’ along?
JERRY: I think I got David Duke and Farrakhan down there.
ELAINE: (mocking - in a dopey voice) “Well if we can't look to the cookie where can we look?”
This native New Yorker finds the ubiquitous iconography unsubstantiated by historic print evidence puzzling. New Yorkers generally pride themselves on proclaiming “firsts” and claiming inventions. This does not jive with the laissez-faire “we don’t know” attitude relayed by contemporary reporters. Crosby Gaige’s New York World’s Fair Cook Book  offers recipes & menus for every state. There are no Black and White cookies in this book. Nor are they addressed in New York City/Jewish/Ethnic cookbooks (Joan Nathan, Lynn Stallworth, Jane Ziegelman, Hasia Diner). Lawton Mackall’s Knife and Fork in New York  profiles several Jewish delicatessens. He mentions Lindy’s cheese cake & Reuben’s sandwiches but no black & whites. We find no recipes in our cookie books (professional/home cooks). No ads or descriptions in the New York Times before the Seinfeld’s episode aired. Like Jerry Seinfield, sitcom premise: It’s a story about nothing. Which makes the Black-and-White cookie even more compelling.
Potato chip cookies?
Food companies and trade associations have been promoting products through recipes from the earliest days forward. What better way to entice the home cook (aka primary supermarket shopper) to try new products? Some recipes invented in corporate kitchens have become American icons. Think: Jell-O-Molds. Back-of-the box promotions, colorful magazine ads, company booklets, and contests encourage home cooks to be creative (economical, efficient) with everyday ingredients. Breakfast cereal instead of bread crumbs, graham crackers into pie crust, powderered cocoa into fudge, condensed canned soups for quick gravy. Rice Krispies Treats and Chex Mix are perfect examples of companies capitalizing on food trends.
We Americans like our snack food. We also have a unique taste for combining salty and sweet. Ice cream sundaes topped with salted nuts and Cracker Jack reign supreme. In our world, the potato chip cookie was inevitable.
When did happen? Recipes published in local newspapers provide clues. The earliest print evidence appears just after WWII. In 1959 the Potato Chip Institute International began sponsoring an annual Men's National Cooking Championship with one mandatory ingredient. Recipes proliferated. The most challenging potato chip cookie recipes to recreate today are those specifying product by price (a 29 cent bag of potato chips) rather than standard measure (1 cup). Cooks wondering how many chips they needed for 1 cup crushed were helped by (you guessed it!) potato chip companies
"Potato Chip Cookies
Don't put up your hands and your hands in awe because we recommend potato chips in cookies. Crush one cup of them. Buy a package of prepared pudding mix of butterscotch flavor, sift one cup flour, any kind that you can get, be sparing on the salt, just a pinch will do. Sift it with the flour and one-half teaspoon each of soda and baking powder. Put pudding mix into a bowl, add the chips and the flour mixture. Add one beaten egg and one-half cup shortening, melted. Form a dough in a roll and chill until firm. Slice one-fourth inch thick and arrange on a lightly greased cooky sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for from 10 to 12 minutes, or until done or drop from a spoon on to a cooky sheet, flatten to one-fourth inch thickness and bake as suggested."
---Freeport Journal-Standard [IL], August 5, 1946 (p. 14)
"Potato Chip Cookies
1 cup of white sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
2 cups of shortening
2 cups of flour
3 cups of oatmeal
2 cups of potato chips, crushed medium
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon soda
1 cup of nut meat. Chill, then roll in balls and flatten with fork. Bake 350 degrees for 10 minutes."
---Muscatine Journal [IA], February 11, 1960 (p. 13) ?
"Potato Chip Cookies
Three-fourths cup butter
Two cups brown sugar
Two cups flour
One-third cup milk
One-half teaspoon soda
One teaspoon vanilla
One cup nuts, chopped
One cup potato chips
One cup chocolate chips
One cup coconut
Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg. Sift flour and soda and add to creamed mixture. Add milk and vanilla. Add coconut, nuts, and potato and chocolate chips. Drop by spoonsful on buttered cookie sheet. Bake in moderately hot oven (375 degrees F.). Makes about five dozen."
---State Journal [Madison WI], September 4, 1960 (p. 8)
"Potato Chip Cookies
1/2 lb butter and 1/2 lb. margarine
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla; cream well
Add 3 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 -25 cent bag of potato chips crushed.
mix thorougly and drop from teaspoon onto cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 15 min., in 350 degree F. oven. Add 1/2 cup chopped nuts if desired. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 100 cookies."
---Kelvyn Park Journal [Chicago IL], July 31, 1968 (p. 8)
"Potato Chip Cookies
1 lb margarine
1 cup sugar
1/4 pound (4 ounces) potato ships (crushed finely)
1 tablespoon vanilla
Mix margarine and sugar until its creamy. Add vanilla, flour and crushed potato chips. Mix thoroughly. Roll into one inch balls, and put down gently on an ungreased cookie sheet. Put 1/2 candied Maraschino cherry on top of each cookie and bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 12 minutes."
---South Austin News [Chicago IL], July 31, 1968 (p. 4) ?
"Potato Chip Cookies
1 pound butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/2 cups sifted flour
2 cups crushed potato chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Beat butter until creamy. Add sugar and vanilla and cream well. Add flour and beat thoroughly. Add crushed potato chips and chopped nuts and mix just enough to blend. Drop dough from a teaspoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 12 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees. If cookies are not to be eaten within two or three days, store them in the freezer. Just before serving, dip tops into powdered sugar. Makes approximately 100 cookies."
---The Herald [Chicago IL], July 29, 1971 Section 5 (p. 8)
Potato chip definitions from WISE 
"Special notes:: Definition of crumbled, crushed and finely crushed potato chips:
Crumbled Potato Chips--are potato chips slightly crushed to the size of a quarter.
Crushed Potato Chips--are potato chips crushed to the size of dimes or smaller.
Finely Crushed Potato Chips--are potato chips crushed as finely as possible. Place chips between 2 pieces of wax paper and crush with rolling pin.
Approximate Yield of Wise Potato Chips
1 cup Crumbled requires approximately 1/2 oz. WISE potato chips.
1 cup Crushed requires approximately 1 7/8. WISE potato chips.
1 cup Finely Crushed requires approximately 4 1/2 oz. WISE potato chips."
---Recipes that Pep-up Meals with Wise Potato Chips [Wise Potato Chip Company:Berwick PA] 1962 (p. 32)
[NOTE: this booklet offers recipes for Brownies, Fudge Crispies, Chip Kisses, Chip Nests, Seafoam Chip Kisses, Chocolate Chip Kisses, Butterscotch Crispies, Double Chip (chocolate & potato) & Lemon Coconut Crispies. Butterscotch Crispies are the closest by ingredient to the recipes published in newspapers.
Our sources credit Lively Willoughby of Louisville, Kentucky for inventing refrigerator dough packed in cardboard tubes in 1930. A patent was issued in 1931. This product was acquired by Ballard & Ballard (also of Louisville) which was acquired by Pillsbury Mills (Minneapolis MN) in 1951. See the original patent record dates below. View actual patent via Google patents (type in patent number or keyword: willoughby dough)
Patent number: 1811772
Filing date: Mar 10, 1931
Issue date: Jun 1931
Inventor: LIVELY B. WILLOUGHBY
Assignee: BALLARD and BALLARD COMPANY
Details courtesy of the original company's employee magazine:
"...speaking of revolutionary changes! Lately the routine of the housewife...has been completely altered by the placing upon the market of a product of Ballard & Ballard of Louisville, Ky., known as Oven Ready Buttermilk Biscuit. This biscuit is all ready to bake. The busy housewife simply removes the biscuits from a specially prepared container and plots them into an oven which would have a temperature of 500 degrees. In eight or ten minutes the biscuits can be removed, baked to a golden brown and ready for devouring. The dough can be kept on hand for about two weeks, the only requirement being that the biscuits be kept in the refrigerator...A few years ago there lived in Bowling Green, Ky.--a junction point for three of the Old Reliable's divisions, the Louisville, the Nashville and the Memphis Line--a gentleman and incidentally the hero of our story...by the name of L. B. Willoughby. Mr. Willoughby was a master baker there and his chief distinction from other men was the fact that his profession was also his holiday. Generally, Mr. Willoughby was known as 'the experimenter.' At this time he had given to the public, as has been hinted, many choice yum-yums, a seed roll in particular...Being mechanically-minded--an expert with the drawing as well as the bread board--he had invented a flour-sifter for use in bakeries, besides many other gadgets best known to the trade. Mr. Willoughby, like all other bakers, was well aware of the fact that in winter his business went into a considerable tail spin. This, of course, was due to the circumstance that in perspirationless season people were more apt to lover lovingly over their own ovens. He had long had a yen to woo some of this business back into the fold and, for obvious reasons, an oven ready biscuit seemed to him to be just the thing to do this trick. Bakery baked biscuits had never been a howling success because of the fact that a biscuit to deserve three rousing cheers must be served piping hot. But if biscuit dough could be fixed so that it could be kept several days and still used--ak! that was another matter. Mr. Willoughby went to work on the problem. For quite quite a period of time he confined his experimenting in this field. One day his patience was rewarded. A batch of dough that he had specially prepared a week or so before and had since kept refrigerated when cut up into biscuits and placed inb an oven turned into somethign a few minutes later that went very well with butter and honey...He called his discovery the Olde Kentucky Buttermilk Biscuit and placed it on the market. Ten of the biscuits were placed in each container, each biscuit being separated from its neighbors by a piece of foil and oiled paper. On the label adorning the container purchasers were given simple instructions on how to bake... Ballard's took over Mr. Willoughby's brain-child on January 22 of this year...The flour people prepared to capture the country in the name of the Oven Ready Biscuit, city by city. Indianapolis was the first to fall through vigorous advertising via newspapers, billboards and store window displays."
---"L. & N. Takes a New Biscuit to Market," by K.A.H., The L. & N. Employes' Magazine, November 1931 (p. 22-23)
This early company ad does an excellent job describing this revolutionary grocery item:
"Once in a lifetime, once in a generation, such things happen! Today a revolutionary discovery brings you a thrilling new convenience. Delicious Southern Buttermilk Biscuits. Freshly made, cut out and packaged all ready to bake in your own oven. Today the most thrilling discovery since you have been keeping home is waiting for you at your grocer's. It is a package of ready-to-bake Southern biscuits, the old-fashioned kind, made with pure country buttermilk. We call them OvenReady Biscuits because all the work has been done for you. You only have to bake them. Now you can serve delicious home-baked Southern biscuits, without any of the bother of buying and assembling and mixing ingredients; of getting out and washing and putting away utensils. The sifting, measuring and mixing, the kneading, rolling and cutting have already been done for you. The ingredients we use are the same that are used in the most exacting kitchens, and are as carefully selected. Every proportion and process is accurate to the finest degree. As soon as the dough is cut out, each biscuit is wrapped in foil and they are sealed in an airtight package that guarantees the to be as fresh and wholesome when you open the package as at the moment they are made. Frequent delivery of OvenReady Biscuits to your grocer insures a continuous fresh supply. Take the compact convenient package from your grocer's icebox to your own. When you are ready to serve them, simply open the package with an ordinary kitchen knife, place the biscuits in a pan, run them into the oven, and let them bake themselves while the bacon broils or the table is being set. Think of the time that you or your cook will save in a single day, a week, a month--time that is needed for the countless other details of planning and preparing meals and keeping house. Now, in less time than you need for making toast, you can serve hot biscuits for breakfast, whether you have a cook or not. In ten minutes' time, and with no trouble at all, OvenReady Biscuits can turn your cold luncheon or buffet supper into an important and delicious meal. It's a simple matter, too, to make them into doughnuts, drop dumplings and individual shortcakes, However late you may be kept at an afternoon party or at your office, there's no need for supper to be a hurried, unsatisfactory meal if you have a package of OvenReady Biscuits in your icebox. And every time you serve OvenReady Biscuits you are sure of biscuits equal to your own highest standards. Don't wait to discover this wonderful convenience and goodness. Put OvenReady Biscuits at the top of your marketing and menu lists today. They're at your grocer's. Made by Ballard and Ballard Company, Incorporated, OvenReady Division, Louisville, Kentucky. 10 for 10 cents."
---Dislay ad, Atlanta Constitution, June 25, 1931 (p. 17)
How were refrigerator biscuits invented? Food historians trace the path from accidental mess to the Pillsbury Doughboy:
"The story of Pillsbury's refrigerator dough begins in 1930 with a baker in Louisville, Kentucky. Lively Willoughboy, as he was called, sliced and stacked unbaked biscuits, wrapped them in foil, and packed them in cardboard tubes before storing them in an icebox. When the compressed dough was removed from the icebox, it exploded, converting the Willoughby kitchen into a shooting gallery. Lively's son had to stand on a ladder to scrape the dough off the ceiling with a putty knife. Consistent efforts by Lively to eliminate the explosive character of his refrigerated dough eventually paid off and he sold his process to the Ballard and Ballard Flour Company. Pillsbury obtained this process in 1952 when it acquired Ballard. Pillsbury launched its crescent rolls in 1965, first approaching Leo Burnett, its ad agency, which came up with the idea of the animated Pillsbury Doughboy. Poppin' Fresh, a revolutionary figure in advertising, laucnhed the crescent rolls in 1965 and went on to symbolize Pillbury's products in a vast number of commercials."
---Encyclopedia of Consumer Brands, Volume 1: Consumable Products, Janice Jorgensen editor [St. James Press:Dover] 1994 (p. 454)
"In 1951 Pillsbury bought Ballard & Ballard, which owned a process for storing refrigerated dough in cardboard tubes. The process was invented by a Louisville, Kentucky, baker in 1930 and refined over the years. The acquisition of Ballard & Ballard marked Pillsbury's entry into the refrigerated dough market, which became a company mainstay. The launch in 1965 of refrigerated crescent rolls coincided with the debut of the Pillsbury Doughboy, as well as the signature tag line, "Nothing says lovin' like something from the oven,"..."
---Advertising Age Encyclopedia of Advertising, John McDonough ed. [Fitzroy Dearborn:New York] Volume 3, 2003 (p. 1235)
"Federal Judge Roy Shelbourne ruled today that any manufacturer is free to use the Ballard and Ballard Company patent for oven-ready biscuits. Shelbourne also held that the Borden Company, a rival in the sale of canned biscuits ready to pop into the oven for baking, was innocent of copying the label and package design of the Ballard product. Ballard and Ballard, now owned by Pillsbury Mills, Inc., Minneapolis, had sued the Borden Company and its west-coast distributer, Ready-to-Bake Foods, Inc. alledging infringement of patent and unfair-trade practices in copying its package. Kraft Foods, Inc., Chicago, had intervened on the Ballard side as its west-coast distributor. On the patent angle, Judge Shelbourne held the original patent, issued in 1931, had expired after seventeen years and a new patent obtained in 1948 did not contain enough additional new ingredients or methods to make it valid..."
---"Patent Infringement Suit Lost," New York Times, August 16, 1952 (p. 23)
The second most popular cookie question we get comes from people remembering a thin, flaky, oblong cookie with yummy raisin filling. The answer? Garibaldi Biscuits. The good news is, they are still available. You can find them online (google: garibaldi biscuits sale) for purveyors. Who was Garibaldi & are these biscuits Italian? Food historians weigh in:
"A garibaldi is a type of British biscuit with a layer of currants inside. Little seen nowadays, it was popular in the first half of the twentieth century, and seems to have started life in the 1880s or 1890s. It was named after Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-82), the Italian nationalist leader. Its colloquial nickname, squashed-fly biscuit (coined from the appearance of the currants), dates from at least the first decade of the twentieth century; it is mentioned by H.G. Wells in Tono-Bungay (1909): 'instead of offering me a Garibaldi biscuit, she asked me with that faint lisp of hers, to 'have some squashed flies, George.'"
---An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 137)
"Guiseppe Garibaldi, the very embodiment of romantic patriotism, was another Italian hero with higher things on his mind than eating. Perhaps the only dish that commemorates the swashbuckling spirit of the great condottiere is the Garibaldi biscuit, a thin sandwich of short pastry and chopped currants that could hardly be less Italian: it was invented in a factory in Bermondsey, South London, in 1861. The manufacturer, the company Peek Frean, baptized it 'Garibaldi' to cash in on the general's fame."
---Delicia! The Epic History of the Italians and Their Food, John Dickie [Free Press:New York] 2008 (p. 169-170)
Our survey of historic English cookbooks confirms raisins/currants/sultanas were regularly employed in all sorts of baked goods, including biscuits (cookies). None of these, however, offer a recipe for Garibaldi biscuits or anything approximating them. The earliest print reference we find to a biscuit by this name is this 'tongue in cheek' notice published in 1882: "Why are Garibaldi biscuits always to be found in Belgrade? Because they are Eaton Square."
---Clerkenwell Pres [London], September 30, 1882 (p. 4)
The earlist commercial advertisment we find was published in 1914. The ad proclaims the biscuit has been around since the mid-1th century: "Popularity that never wanes is won only by unvarying excellence. Because the same high quality has been maintained for more than half a century in Huntley & Palmers Garibaldi Biscuits, these currant dainties are as much in favour now as ever."
---display ad, The Daily Mail [London] May 25, 1914 (p. 8)
We're satisfied Garibaldi biscuits are British. Which makes the recipe below quite the curiosity.
"Garibaldi: Buttery Raisin-filled Bars
This delicious buttery raisin-filled cookie is simplicity itself. A layer of sweet pastry dough is covered with a thick carpet of raisins, topped with another layer of pastry, and glazed lightly with caramel.
Makes 88 bars
Pasta Frolla I (page 399) made through chilling
1 or 2 eggs, beaten
4 cups (600 grams) raisin
Divide the dough into 2 pieces, one twice as large as the other (two-thirds and one-third). Roll out the large piece into a 17 X 11-inch rectangle on a lightly floured work surface. Toll up the dough onto the rolling pin and then unroll it on a 17 X 11-inch baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper. Brush the surface with beaten egg and scatter the raisins evenly on top. Press the raisins firmly into the dough with the rolling pin and brush again with beaten egg. Roll the remaining dough into the same size rectangle. Roll it up onto the rolling pin and then unroll it over the raisins. Don't worry if it rips and tears a bit, for it's easily patched. Trim the dough and brush the surface with beaten egg.
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1/4 cups water, plus additional for thinning
1 tablespoon corn syrup
Stir the sugar, 1/4 cup water, and the corn syrup in a small heavy saucepan until the sugar is dissolved, 3 to 4 minutes. Clean the side of the pan with a rubber spatula. Cook over medium heat without stirring until the bubbles get thicker and thicker and the mixture begins to begins to caramelize. Do not stir again with the same spoon since it has sugar crystals on it that will cause the mixture to harden. Reduce the heat and cook to a dark caramel color, about 320 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove immediately form the heat and swirl the pan to mix it evenly. Stirring constantly with a clean wooden spoon, very gradually and very carefully add water a tablespoon at a time, until the caramel is thin enough to be spread. Spread the dough with half the caramel glaze, smoothing it with a spatula or knife. Decorate the top with a squiggly pattern made with the tines of a fork or better yet, with a cake-decorating comb made especially for this purpose. Refrigerate 15 minutes to 4 hours. Brush again with beaten egg and spread with the remaining glaze. Decorate the glaze as before. Refrigerate 15 to 30 minutes to make sure that the dough is cold so that it can be cut cleanly into 1 1/2 X 1-inch bars. Baking. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool in the pan."
---The Italian Baker, Carol Field [Harper & Row:New York] 1985 (p. 416-417)
[NOTE: Carol Field's IACP award winning revised Italian Baker [Ten Speed Press:Berkeley CA] 2011 does not include a recipe for Garibaldi Biscuits.]
Our survey of historic newspapers suggest "Graham crackers" (aka Graham wafers) were known by the early 1870s. We find references to manufactured products. Presumably Graham flour items were also made at home. Earliest allusions likened Graham Crackers to ships' biscuit. These hardy foodstuffs (think: hardtack) were better known for their dietary function and economical properties than flavor or savor. This makes sense, because Graham's followers advocated a spartan approach to diet. It was not until mass 20th century commercialism that Graham Crackers (like peanut butter) crossed over from health prescription to popular food. Dr. Graham would NOT have appreciated the chocolate-coated versions some people enjoy today.
What was Graham flour?
"Graham flour. An unsifted whole-wheat flour containing the bran of the wheat kernel (1825). It is named after Reverend Sylvester Graham (1794-1851), a tenacious advocate of temperance, healthy nutrition, and the virtues of home baking with this kind of flour...Graham sent up 'Graham hotels' serving strictly controlled meals quite in line with the belief of the temperance movement that food should not contain any stimulants...Graham began is crusade in 1830, within four years people were talking of 'Graham bread.' by 1882 a flat, slightly sweet cookie called a 'graham cracker' was well known...Graham's legacy survives today mostly in the form of the cookies named after him..."
---The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 143)
"The Graham crackers, upon which we principally existed, were baked hard and dry like sea biscuit, and we found it necessary to moisten and soften them before eating, and we resorted to the use of boiling hot water, breaking the crackers into it, and allowing them to absorb all the water they would."
---Week's News [London], December 21, 1872 (p. 19)
Early American Graham recipes
Michigan State University's Feeding America digital cookbook collection lets you identify Graham recipes by title and ingredient. Here you will find early recipes for Graham bread, cake, gems, muffins, mush, popovers, porridge, pudding and wafers.
 Graham Wafer recipe, (same shape & ingredients as modern Graham Crackers)
 Graham Cracker recipe, (note: recipe was submitted by a woman doctor)
2 cups each graham and white flour
1/2 cup butter or oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspn. salt
cold water for stiff dough
Mix well together, run through food cutter (with finest knife) 5 or 6 times, roll about 1/8 inch thick, prick with fork, cut into any desired shape, set in cold place for 2 hrs. or longer, bake in moderate oven. Omit sugar for unsweetened crackers. Dough may be kneaded, picking it apart into small pieces, if food cutter is not at hand. Or, crackers are very good made up without any kneading, when rested in cold place."
---Laurel Health Cookery, Evora Bucknum Perkins [Laurel Publishing Company:Melrose MA] 1911 (p. 462)
Who was Dr. Sylvester Graham?
A New England health advocate with a passion for temperance and fiber.
"Sylvester Graham. His name lives on in a nursery cookie, but Sylvester Graham, one of America's earliest and most vocal advocates of dietary reform, left a far larger legacy: the concept that a vegetarian diet of natural and largely raw foods--whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts--can restore and maintain health. Graham campaigned for pure, unadulterated food at a time when baker's bread might contain copper sulfate, plaster, or alum. And in an era predating scientific knowledge of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber, he insisted that processing, milling, sifting, and overcooking stripped food of its most important components. Although mocked in his day, Graham's theories foreshadowed much modern nutritional knowledge."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, volume 1 (p. 573)
"Graham's recommendations came at a time when America's diet consisted largely of corn, pork, molasses, puddings, and pies, with potatoes cooked in lard...Early in his speaking career Graham seized upon the sorry state of commercial bread that had begun to enter the New England marketplace after the 1830's. In his Treatise on Bread and Bread-Making (1837), Graham advocated homemade brown bread made of unbolted flour and bran instead of light, thin-crusted loaves then being sold which he condemned for being adulterated with unwholesome fillers and additives."
---Culinary Biographies, Alice Arndt editor [Yes Press:Houston TX] 2006 (p. 186)
The Nabisco factor
Although Nabisco (formerly the National Biscuit company) was not the first and/or only company to manufacture graham crackers, it is often credited with introducing them to the American public for mass-production. The National Biscuit Company was formed at the very end of the 19th century. This passage is from a corporate biography:
"Another NBC [National Biscuit Company, later Nabisco] product, the graham cracker, was also popular throughout the country. It had been a favorite since it was created and introduced in the early part of the nineteenth century by Dr. Sylvester Graham, an eccentric but sagacious expert on health foods...The graham cracker had been sold by bakeries for decades. The New York Biscuit Company and its rivals to the west all sold it. However, it remained for the National Biscuit Company to stabilize its production, package it, and give it national promotion."
---Out of the Cracker Barrel: Nabisco History From Animal Crackers to ZuZu's>, William Cahn, [Simon & Schuster:New York] 1969 (p. 105)
Chocolate covered Grahams crackers
The earliest print reference we find for chocolate-covered graham crackers is from 1929. They were made by the National Biscuit Company [aka Nabisco!]
"Sale of National Biscuit Co. Cookies and Crackers, Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers, per leb, 30 cents. Graham Crackers, 2 lbs, 31 cents."
---display ad, Laurens Sun [IA], October 17, 1929 (p. 4)
"Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers, 2 lbs for 37 cents,"
---Chicago Daily Tribune, December 17, 1933 (p. 14)...no brand mentioned
"We were unrolling our bedrolls. We hadn't used them for three nights. We'd been moving too fast for that kind of luxury. I was shaking the sand out of a sour-smelling blanket when Benson let out a yip, and a tin clattered to the floor. It was a long tin, about a foot long, and four inches square. It bore the label of Fortnum and Mason's, Piccadilly, London, and contained--chocolate-covered graham crackers! Benson held it before him, an end in each hand, as you would a football, and let out a yell that competed with the whistle. He tore at the top and couldn't open it, It was stuck all round with gummed paper...He'd got the top of as was rustling the waxed brown paper aside with clumsy fingers when we became conscious of faces peering at us from the other side of the glass doors and panels of the compartment. There were three or four men there, one of them with a bandaged head. Two were Italians and at least one other was a German. before I could stop him, Benson stood up, pulled aside the sliding door and began passing out the crackers, one to each. He went through the car and presently returned with one cracker. He divided it up neatly in two portions and we sat on the edges of our long seats, taking small bites, fighting, each of us, an impulse to gulp, chew and swallow. We sat there for a long time, not talking..."
---"Hospital Train," Frank Gervasi, Los Angeles Times, January 18, 1942 (p. H14)
"New delicacies have been uncovered by the freezer, such as frozen chocolate covered graham crackers. They are delicious in the frozen state."
---"Industry's Aim: Freezing Unit in Every Home," Ann Douglas, Chicago Daily Tribune, September 11, 1949 (p. H4)
Related foods? S'mores.
Hardtack & Ship's Biscuit
Hardtack (Army)and Ship's Biscuit (Navy) descend from ancient Roman Army hard breads. They were issued to Revolutionary War soldiers on all sides, a staple food for new world explorers and regretfully consumed by Civil War soldiers. Why? For the most part it was portable, nutritious, and filling. On the other hand...it was monotonous, hard to eat, and did go bad.
"Hardtack. Also, "sea biscuit," "sea bread," "ship biscuit," and "pilot bread," A hard biscuit made with flour and water but not shortening or yeast. The word is a combination of "hard," for the firm consistency of the biscuit, and "tack," an English word meaning "food."...Hardtack was long part of the staple diet of English and American sailors, because of its ability to keep for lengthy periods of time at sea."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 150-1)
"For centuries, hard breads made of flour and water and baked into round, oval, or square shapes have accompanied travlers on long treks, soldiers in military campaigns, and sailors at sea. Hardtack's first important North American role was in sustaining crews and passengers of European vessels en route to the New World and as a ration in the ensuing sea-borne trade. Ships' bread continued to feed seamen well into the twentieth century. Hardtack, was also known as biscuit, crackers, ships's bread or biscuit, hard bread or biscuit or crackers; soft tack was fresh bread. Military biscuit predated the independent United States, serving armies in both Europe and North America and was an important rations for the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War (1774-1783). General George Washington constantly asked the baking superintendent Christopher Ludwich for large quantities to feed his campaigning soldiers...This durable foodstuff achieved iconic status during the American Civil War (1861-1865)."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 589)
"Much of the tainted or inferior food that reached the military resulted from bureaucratic bungling and corrupt suppliers, but on good days Northern troops could expect over a pound a fresh beef and almost a pound and a half of soft bread, cornmeal, or hardtack, the latter a ubiquitous cracker that could also be found among Confederate army rations. Made of plain flour andwater, hardtack was similar in shape and design to a modern saltine cracker, but larger and thicker and a lot harder, especially when stale (as it almost invariably was). Hardtack was commonly crumbled into coffee or soup or soaked in water and then fried in pork fat until brown. But regardless of preparation, so notoriously hard was the cracker that it was the constant subject of derisive soungs and jokes, like the one about the Kansas soldier who found something soft in his hardtack--a ten-penny nail. In Northern camps and hospitals, milk toast was made of hardtack soaked in condensed milk, a product that became widely available to federal troops when the Union appropriated the entire output of Gail Borden's condensed milk plant in Connecticut."
---From Hardtack to Home Fries: An Uncommon History of American Cooks and Meals, Barbara Haber [Free Press:New York] 2002 (p. 50-1)
"...the real staple of their [Confederate soldiers] diet, something that only an army bureaucrat could call bread, a product of reputedly ancient origins--and equally ancient manufacture to the soldiers' minds--that so-called "army bread" or "hard bread" that Voris mentioned, universally known after 1861 as hardtack. Its precise birth is obscure, but it had been used in European armies for generations and in the United States Army before the [Civil] war. The cracker--for such it was--was simplicity itself, just wheat flour and water in a rough proportion of six to one, mixed and rolled out into a thickness of about three-eighths of an inch, then cut into roughly three-inch squares. Perforated with a few holes to speed baking, the crackers went into ovens at standard bread-baking heat, and after twenty to thirty minutes, they emerged as hardtack, imperishable, indestructable, and practically indedible, too hard to chew, too small for shoeing mules, and too big to use as bullets, though one Illinois private assured his friends that "we live on crackers so hard that if we had of loaded our guns with then we could have killed...in a hurry." Soldiers often quipped that their ration had been in storage in commissary vaults at least since the war with Mexico in 1846-1848...Yet somehow, they ate it and used it in puddings, stews, and bizarre dishes of their own invention. They also cursed it and threw it away...Perversely, the soldier became almost fond of it, so long as they did not have to eat it...On the march when soft bread was not available, the standard daily ration of hardtack was nine or ten crackers per man according to the whim of his commissary..."
---A Taste for War, William C. Davis [Stackpole Books:Mechanicsville PA] 2003 (p. 40-1)
This was the Navy's answer to hardtack.
"...the Royal Navy preferred biscuit to bread. Biscuit would keep for many montys, it came in handy pieces, and because it did not require any form of leaven it dod not need any great skill to make and it could be made in large quantities more quickly than the equivalent weight of soft bread. The method was equally simple: water was added to flour, it was mixed, kneaded until smooth, rolled, cut, stamped with the broad arrow (affectionately known as the 'crow's food') which marked it as Crown property, baked, cooled, and packed. The process required no great degree of knowledge or careful temperature control both of which were essential for the methods of bread-baking used at the time...Some of the biscuit was bought from outside contractors, some was madee by the Victualling Board at its depts in Deptford, Portsmouth and Plymouth, and later in some of its victualling yards abroad. They were made of whole-meal, some of the surviving specimens containing quite large pieces of recognisable wheat grains. The contracts for outside bakers stated that the biscuits should 'weigh not less than five to the pound' (ie at least 3.2 ounces or 91 grams each) and that they should be packed in bags of hundredweight. The shape was not specified and they could be square, round or octagonal, usually pricked with holes and with the broad arrow and a letter designating the bakery stamped in the middle. This compressed dough, making the middle even harder than the rest; eaters tended to leave this hard piece until last, designating them 'pursers' nuts'. It was almost impossible to bite into these biscuits without first soaking them. The normal technique was to break bits off on the edge of a table, or to use a hard object to crush them, having first wrapped them in a piece of cloth to avoid explosive dispersal. These pieces could be sucked and chewed, or added to soup or gravy. Despite their hardness, these biscuits were tasty enough. It was when they became damp that the taste deteriorated and the livestock moved in. The secret of keeping the biscuit dry was to pack it in airtight boxes; the Dutch knew this as early as the seventeenth century. American sailors knew it too, but somehow the message did not get through to the British Admirality until well into the nineteenth century. Captian Basil Hall, writing of his experiences during the War of 1812, remarked on this: American biscuit, he said, was tasty and good quality and he attributed this to their practice of keeping it sealed up until needed, whereas the British practice was to ventilate the bread room in fine weather with the aid of wind-sails which funnelled air down from above. Unfortunately in warm weather this air was warm and moist while the cellar-like bread room was cold; the biscuit absorbed this damp air and the process of deterioration started. When the bread ran short, or had deteriorated beyond the eatable stage, the standard substitute was rice, issued on an equal-weight basis: one pound of uncooked rice was considered by the Victually Board to be equal to one pound of biscuit."
---Feeding Nelson's Navy: The True Story of Food at Sea in the Georgian Era, Janet MacDonald [Stackpole Books:Mechanicsburg PA] 2004 (p. 16-18)
How to make ship's biscuit?
"The original method. The biscuit-making process at Deptford victualling yard was on a grand scale, producing almost 25,000 pounds of biscuit a day from twelve ovens, each baking twenty batches a day, and being fed wtih raw biscuits by a team of seven men. To knead the dough they used a device called a horse; this consisted of a circular platform on which a big lump of flour and water dough was placed, and a wide lever mounted on a central pole which a man 'rode' like a hobby horse, jumping it up and down to knead the dough, working his way round the circle as many times as it took to bring the dough to the desired state. It was then passed, in sequence, to a series of men who cut the dough, moulded it into shape, stamped it, split it into two biscuits, arranged it on a peel and 'shot' it into the oven to bake."
---Feeding Nelson's Navy: The True Story of Food at Sea in the Georgian Era, Janet MacDonald [Stackpole Books:Mechanicsburg PA] 2004 (p. 184)
[NOTE: This book also offers a modernized version for home cooks.]
Hermit cookies descend from medieval Arabian recipes. Small baked goods flavored with spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, mace), fruits (raisins) and nuts (almonds) were introduced from the Middle East to Europe by returning Crusaders. These sweet treats have been known through time by different names. Medieval gingerbread, Elizabethan jumbles, and 18th century plumb cakes, are likely progenitors. 20th century Joe Froggers and snickerdoodles make similar claims to "old timey New England" culinary heritage.
Why call them hermits?
Excellent question with no definative answer. John Mariani (Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink) is the only person who ventures a guess: "the name may refere to the brown lumpy appearance of the cookie, like that of a hermit's robe." (p. 154).
What makes this cookie particularly interesting?
1. As years progress, recipes become more complicated and origination stories grow longer and more detailed.
2. Eleanor Early's recipe (1954) is the first to claim Hermits belong to New England. Her recipe stands out because she bakes her hermits in a shallow cake pan, similar to brownies. Her recipe strikes us closer to Lafayette Gingerbread, without the ginger.
3. Historical references to "old time New England" are defendable when one looks beyond the recipe title and examines ingredients and mode.
4. The earliest print reference we find for "Hermit Cookies" are published in Midwestern newspapers (circa 1878, 1880), not New England sources.
"To make little Plum-Cakes.
Take two Pound of Flour dried in the Oven, or at a great Fire, and half a Pound of Sugar finely powder'd, four Yolks of Eggs, two Whites, half a Pound of Butter wash'd with Rosewater, six Spoonfuls of Cream warm'd, a Pound and a Half of Currans unwash'd, put picked and rubb'd very clean in a Cloth; mix it all well together, then make them up into Cakes, and bake them in an Oven almost as hot as for a Manchet, and let them stand balf an Hour till they be colour'd on both Sides, then take down the Oven Lid, and let them stand to soak. You must rub the Butter into the Flour very well, then the Sugar, then the Egg and Cream, and then the Currants."
---The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse, 1747 facsimile edition, introductory essays by Jennifer Stead and Pricilla Bain, a glossary by Alan Davidson [Prospect Books:Devon] 1995 (p. 141)
[NOTE" "Manchet" was bread of the finest quality.]
"Little Plumb Cakes.
Take two pounds of fine flour dried in the oven or before a great fire, and half a pound of sugar finely powdered, four yolks of eggs, two whites, half a pound of butter washed with rose water, six spoonsful of cream warmed, a pound and a half of currants unwashed, but picked and rubbed very clean with a cloth, and mi all well together; them make them up into cakes, and bake them in a pretty hot oven, and let them stand half an hour till they are coloured on both sides; then take down the oven lid and let them stand to soak. You must rub the butter into the flour very well, then the eggs and cream, and then the currants."
---The New Art of Cookery According to the Present Practices, Richard Briggs [W. Spotswood, R. Campbell and B. Johnson: Philadelphia PA] 1972 (p. 463)
[Notice the "gentle" borrowing of Ms. Glasse's recipe? This was not uncommon back in the day.]
"Hermit Cookies. Little over a cup of nice raisins chopped, one cup butter, one of sugar, two eggs, one teaspoonful each of cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg, one-half cup molasses, a little salt, flour to roll out."
---Daily Globe [St. Paul, MN], June 30, 1878 (p. 4)
"Hermit cookies. Half cup butter, one and a half cups sugar, three eggs, one teaspoonful of all kinds of spices, half teaspoonful soda, dissolved in a little water. Mix up stiff and roll."
---Indian Journal [Muskogee OK], March 25, 1880 (p. 7)
Add half a cup of stoned and chopped raisins to the receipt for Richer Cookies, and roll about a quarter of an inch thick. Cut into rounds." (p. 386)
1/2 cup butter.
1 cup sugar.
1 tabpespoonful milk.
1 heaping teasp. baking-powder.
Flour to roll out.
Cream the butter; add the sugar, milk, egg, beaten lightly, and the baking-powder mixed with two cups of flour, then enough more flour to roll out. Roll a little at a time. Cut out. Bake about ten minutes." (p. 385)
---Boston Cooking School Cook Book, Mrs. D.A. Lincoln, 1884 facsimile edition [Dover Publications:Mineola NY] 1996
---Miss Parloa's New Cook Book, Maria Parloa [Estes and Lauriat:Boston] 1886 (p. 330)
"Hermit Cookies. Three eggs, one and one-half cups of sugar, one small cup of butter, one cup of stoned raisins chopped fine, one teaspoonful of soda dissolved in very little hot water, and just flour enough to handle easily. Take out a little at a time the cake board, knead slightly, and roll them."
---"Useful and Suggestive," Iola Register [KS], October 11, 1889 (p. 7)
Mix well together 1 cup butter and 1 1/2 cups brown sugar. Add 3 well-beaten eggs, 1 cup of chopped raisins, 1 tablespoon soda dissolved in 2 tablespoons of milk, 1 small teaspoon each of cinnamon, cloves, and grated nutmeg. Just flour enough to roll out--but do not roll too thinly. Cut and bake in a quick oven."
---"All About Cooking Cookies," New York Times, June 5, 1908 (p. X9)
1 cup shortening
2 cups brown sugar
2 beaten eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup sour milk
1 cup raisins
1 cup quartered dates
1 cup broken nut meats
Cream shortening and sugar thoroly [sic], add eggs, and beat until smooth. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with sour milk. Add fruit and nut meats and drop from spoon on greased cooky sheets. Bake in moderately hot oven (375 degrees F.) abiyt 15 minutes. Dates may be omitted and raisins increased to 2 cups. Makes 4 dozen cookies."
---My New Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book [Meredith Corporation:Des Moines IA] 1930, Chapter V (p. 18-19)
"Harwich Hermits. Hermits--rich with spices from the Indies, plump with fruits and nuts--originated on Cape Cod in the days of clipper ships and went to sea on every voyage, packed in tole canisters and ticked away in sea chests. Brownies and Blondies are lineal descendants of these fat little Hermits. 1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup molasses
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 tsp. baking soda
2/3 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. powdered cloves
1/4 tsp. mace
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. allspice
3 tbsps. citron, chopped
1/4 cup raisins, chopped
1/2 cup currants, chopped
1/4 cup nut meats, chopped
1. Cream butter and sugar until light. Add eggs and molasses. Beat well.
2. Sift flour with salt, baking soda, cream of tartar and spices. Reserve 1/4 cup flour mixture, in which to stir fruits. (This is to keep them from sticking.) Combine fruit with 1/4 cup flour mixture.
3. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Spread evenly in large, greased pan (14 by 7 inches is not too big). Bake in 350 degree F. oven for about 15 minutes, or until done.
4. Cut into squares while warm.
---New England Cookbook, Eleanor Early [Random House:New York] 1954 (p. 169)
"Best Cooky of 1880-1890: Hermits. One of our earliest favorites--Rich with spices from the Indies, plump with fruits and nuts, Hermits originated in Cape Cod in Clipper Ship days. They went to sea on many a voyage, packed in cannisters and tucked in sea chests.
Spicy, fruity, satisfying.
1 cup shortening
2 cups brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup cold coffee
3 1/2 cups Gold Medal Flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 1/2 cups seeded raisins
1 1/4 cups broken nuts
Mix shortening, sugar, and eggs thoroughly. Stir in coffee. Measure flour by dipping method...or by sifting. Stir dry ingredients together; blend into shortening mixture. Mix in raisins and nuts. Chill dough at least 1 hr. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. (mod. hot). Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough about 2" apart on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 min., or until almost no imprint remains when touched in the center. Makes 7 to 8 doz. 2 1/2" cookies."
---Betty Crocker's Cooky Book [General Mills:Minneapolis MN] 1963 (p. 138)
Related cookies? Billy goats (aka Billy Goat Date Cake)
Hello Dolly bars
The term "bar cookies" or "squares" originated in the 20th century. The earliest examples we find in American cookbooks are from the 1930s. A survey of cookbooks suggests these recipes gained popularity as decades progressed. Food historians do not credit a specific person/place with the invention of "bar cookies." Presumably the practice evolved from earlier recipes, most notably brownies and fudge. Bar cookies were embraced by thrifty cooks, harried homemakers, and time-crunched home ec teachers because they were easy to assemble and delicious. The variations were endless. Lemon bars are perhaps the most famous items in this culinary genre.
Enter: Hello Dolly Bars
Our survey of historic newspaper & magazine articles suggests Hello Dolly Bars (aka Hello Dollies, Magic Cookie Bars, Seven Layer Bars, Dream Bars, Fancy Layer Bars) first surface during the Great Depression. This recipe family generally includes chocolate chips, graham cracker crumbs, sweetened condensed milk, coconut & chopped nuts. Why the name? In 1964 Carol Channing debuted in Jerry Herman'sa Hello Dolly. One year later, recipes with that name occur. Our survey suggests folks called them Hello Dolly because they appear to be rich. Fitting, don't you think?
"But it was Borden's recipe for Magic Lemon Meringue Pie, known as Lemon Icebox Pie in the 1940s, that created a big hit with bakers, or in this case, non-bakers. It called for only six ingredients and cooking was required only to brown the meringue. However, according to JoEllen Helmlinger, manager of product publicity, the company's all-time winner has been the Magic Cookie Bar recipe, also known as Hello Dolly Bars and 7-Layer Bars, introduced in the late '50s and early '60s. It still gets requests and makes the rounds in offices and neighborhoods."
---"Back of the Box," Barbara Durbin, The Oregonian [Portland OR], June 21, 1988 (p.FD1)
"Hello Dollies bring up sweet memories for readers Every once in a while a reader will ask for a recipe that sends dozens of you to your old cookbooks. This time, you had to go to your old spiral notebooks from Home Ec. This is that kind of recipe. Hello Dollies, as so many of you told us, are an easy bar cookie with infinite variations. They can have a graham-cracker crust or a vanilla-wafer crust. Janie Faber even has a wheat-free version -- she uses corn flakes. The crust is topped with chocolate chips. Or butterscotch chips. And some of you even use raisins. That's topped with coconut and a layer of chopped pecans or walnuts. Then a thick, sticky layer of sweetened condensed milk gets poured all over the top. They're lump-of-sugar-in-the-back-of-your-throat sweet. But that's part of their charm. And, because they take just minutes to prepare, it's no wonder many teenagers learned to cook with this recipe. Robin Crowell got out her "Our Favorite Desserts -- Favorites from Home Economics Teachers" cookbook to find the recipe and found 12. Each has the same basic components, but the names range from "Dieter's Downfall" to "Mound Bars" and "Nancy's Delight."... Finally, from Dianne Kaufmann, we had to print this: "I've been baking Hello Dolly cookies for my son since he was 7 years old -- back in 1973. He is now 36 and I still take a batch of these cookies to him at work every year during the holidays."
---"Reader Exchange: Old faithful," Ashley Parrish, Tulsa World [OK], February 5, 2003 (p. D1)
"Corn Flake Dream Bars
Cream 1/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar thorougly, add 1 cup flour and blend well. Press mixture in bottom of shallow baking pan. Bake in moderate oven, 350 degrees, for about 15 minutes, or until delicately browned. Beat 2 eggs well and add 1 cup brown sugar gradually and continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 cup shredded coconut, 1 cup corn flakes and 1 cup chopped nut meats. Mix well. Drop by spoonfuls on top of previously baked crust and spread evenly. Bake in moderate oven, 350 dgrees, about 25 minutes. Remove from pan and cut into squares while warm. Yield is 40 1 1/2-inch squares."
---"Corn Flake Dream Bars Truly Distinctive," Washington Post, September 15, 1939 (p. 23)
[NOTE: Several USA breakfast cereal companies offered similar "Dream Bar" recipes promoting their products in the 1940s-1950s.]
"Dream Bars...Mix together until crumbly, 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 cup flour. Press out flat in a large flat pan. Bake in a moderate oven for 10 minutes, cool a little and cover with the following mixture. Mixtuer--to 1 cup brown sugar, add 1 teaspoon flour and 1/2 teaspon salt. Add 2 beaten eggs, 1 teaspoon vanila, 1 cup chopped nuts and 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut. Cover the first part and bake in a moderate oven, 350 degrees, for 20 minutes."
---"Prize Cookies Delight All Ages," Washington Post, March 15, 1940 (p. 22)
"Tom Thumb Cookie Bars
1/2 c. shortening
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. brown sugar packed
1 c. sifted flour
1 tsp. vanilla
2-3 lb. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. shredded coconut
1 c. nuts chopped
Combine shortening and salt. Add 1/2 c. brown sugar and cream well. aAdd 1 c. flour and blend. Spread mixture in 8 X 12" buttered pan. Bake in slow oven 20 min. Add remaining 1 c. brown sugar and vanilla to eggs, beating until thick and foamy. Then add 2 tb. flour, baking powder, coconut and nuts and blend. Spread over the baked mixture; return to oven and bake 25 min."
---Granddaughter's Inglenook Cookbook [Brethren Publishing House:Elgin IL] 1942 (p. 49)
"Walnut Dream Bars
1/4 c. butter or margarine
1 1/4 c. sifted cake flour
1 1/4 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 teasp. baking powder
1 teasp. vanill extract
1 1 /2 c. moist shredded coconut
1 c. chopped walnuts
With a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter or margarine into 1 c. of the flour and 1/4 c. of the brown sugar, until mixture is of the consistency of coarse corn meal, as in biscuits. Pat this mixture firmly into an ungreased 8" X 8' X2" pan, and bake in a moderate oven of 350 F. for 15 min., or until lighrtly browned. Meanwhile, beat the eggs until light. Then add the remaining brown sugar gradually, shile continuing to beat with a hand or electric beater, until mixture is light and fluffy. Fold in the remaining flour, which has been sifted with the baking powder. Add the vanilla extract, coconut, and chopped walnuts, and combine all thoroughly. Spread this mixture over the top of the still-warm bake mixture in pan, and bake in moderate oven of 350 F. for 15 min., or until ligthly browned. Meanwhile, beat the eggs until light. Then add the remaining brown sugar gradually, while continuing to beat with a hand or electric beater, until mixture is liught and fluffy. Fold in the remaining flour, which has been sifted with the baking powder. Add the vanilla extract, coconut, and chopped walnuts, and combine all thoroughly. Spread this mixture over the top of the still-warm baked mixture in pan, and bake in moderate overn of 350 F. for 20 min., or until crisp and lightly browned. While still warm, cut into 16 2" squares, or into 16 bars 4" X 1", as desired."
---The Good Housekeeping Cook Book, completely Revised 7th edition [Farrar & Rinehart:New York] 1942, 1944 (p. 763-764)
Sometimes called Toffee-Nut Bars
1/2 cup shortening (part butter or margarine)
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 cup Gold Medal Flour
Almond-Coconut Topping (below)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F (mod.). Mix shortening and sugar thoroughly. Stir in flour. Press and flatten with hand to cover bottom of ungreased oblong pan, 13 X 9 1/2X 2". Bake 10 min. Then spread with Topping. Return to oven and bake 25 min. more, or until golden brwon. Cool slightly, then cut in bars. Makes about 2 1/2 doz. 3X 1" bars.
2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup moist shredded coconut
1 cup slivered almonds (or other nuts)
Mix eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Mix with flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in coconut and almonds...
Chocolate Chip Dream Bars
Make Dream Bars (above)--except use 1/3 cup butter or margarine in bottom layer. In topping, use 1 pkg. (6 oz.) semi-sweet chcooalte pieces in place of cocont. Bake 15 to 20 min. Cool; spread with Thin Chocolate Icing (p. 151)"
---Betty Crocker's Cooky Book [General Mills:Mineapolis MN] 1963(p. 13)
"Mrs. Davis served a new cookie and gave seach member the recipe to try and add to her fiie. The cookies are Hello Dolly Cookies. To make: Melt one cube of butter or oleo in a 9 by 13 cake pan. Sprnkle 1 cup vanilla wafers or graham cracker crumbs distributed evenly over the melted butter in the bottom of the pan. Add one 8 ounce package of chocolate chips, one cup chopped nuts and one cup of angel flake coconut: over this pour one cup canned milk undiluted. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degress until lightly browned, cool, then refrigerate before cutting into squares. Keep leftovers refrigerated."
---"Roff HD Club Members, Gueses Enjoy Program," Ada Evening News [OK]. July 22, 1965 (p. 6)
"'Hello Dolly' Cookies
1 stick margarine, melted
1 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. walnuts
1 c. coconut
1 can heavy condensed milk
Mix melted margarine and graham cracker crumbs and shape into a 9X9 inch pan. Put in layers on top the chocolate, walnuts, coconut and finally the condensed milk. Bake for 30 minues in a 350 degree oven. Cut only when cold.--Mrs. Don P. Miller, 1307 North Forrest, Hutchinson." ---"Favorite Recipe," Hutchinson News [KS], July 6, 1965
[NOTE: This recipe was published in several papers throughout the US in the 1960s & 1970s.]
"Fancy Layer Bars
1 cup sifted flour
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sifted flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup chopped nuts
1 6-oz pkg. semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1/4 cup flaked coconut
Mix 1 cup flour and 2 tbsp. brown sugar in a bowl. Cut in butter with two knives or a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Press firmly into an 8-in. square pan. Bake at 350 deg. 15 min. or until set but not browned. Beat eggs with remaining 1 1/2 cups brown sugar. Sift together 1/4 cup flour, the baking powder and salt and fold into egg mixture. Stir in nuts, chocolate pieces and coconut. Spread over baked cooky layer. Bake 25 to 30 mins. longer. Cool slightly and cut into bars. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen."
---"Versatile Bar Cookies Skip Fuss and Muss in the Kitchen," Marian Manners, Los Angeles Times, October 20, 1966 (p. F1)
"Magic Cookie Bars (makes 24 bars)
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 can Eable Brand Sweetenend Condensed Milk
1 (6-oz.) package semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 (3 1/2-oz) can flaked coconut
1 cup chopped nuts
Presheat ovedn to 350 degrees F (use 325 if using glass dish). In 13 X 9-inch baking pan, melt butter. Sprinkle crumbs over butter. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumbs. Top evenly with chocolate morsels, coconut, and nuts; press down gently. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool thoroughly before cutting. Loosely cover any leftovers."
---They'll Love It! Easy taste treats with sweetened condensed milk," [Borden Company] 1976 (p. 24)
"Hello Dollies >
We originally ran this recipe under the name Dream Bars. They are, however, better known by the above name. One of the best bars, bar none.
1 1/2 cups graham wafer crumbs
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup flaked or shredded coconut
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
200 mL can sweetened condensed milk
Toss graham wafer crumbs with melted butter. Press mixture into 13-by-9-inch baking pan. In bowl, combine coconut, chocolate chips, walnuts and condensed milk. Spread over crumb crust. Bake in pre-heated 350F oven 25 minutes until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 24 bars."
---"Second Helpings," Marion Kane, Toronto Star, January 8, 1992 (p. D1)
1 stick butter, melted 1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs or graham cracker crumbs 1 6-ounce package chocolate chips 1 6-ounce package butterscotch chips 1 cup flaked coconut 1/2 cup chopped pecans 1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk Melt butter in an 13x9-inch pan, then layer other ingredients in order. Pour sweetened condensed milk over the top. Do not mix. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, checking after 25 minutes for doneness. Cool completely."
---"Reader Exchange: Old faithful," Ashley Parrish, Tulsa World [OK], February 5, 2003 (p. D1)
Molasses cookies are well documented in colonial New England. There were dozens of variations, with different names. Some were hard, others were soft. Many employed traditional English spices of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Raisins and nuts were often added for flavor and texture. Molasses replaced refined cane sugar for economic reasons. According to culinary legend, Joe Froggers belong to this venerable confectionery genre. Joe’s secret ingredient was rum.
Who was Joe Frogger?
No one knows, for sure. This is a prime example of what food historians call "culinary legend," or "fakelore." If a story sounds plausible, and is circulated widely enough, it becomes "truth."
“Joe Frogger. A thick New England cookie spiced with ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and other spices. The origins of the name are unknown, though the most often cited story concerns an old man named “Uncle Joe” who lived near a frog pond in Marblehead, Massachusetts. He loved rum and always put it into his cookies, which resembled the frogs in the pond. The cookies are a traditional Sunday-night snack in New England.”
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 172)
“A long time ago there was an old Negro who lived in Marblehead. His name was Uncle Joe and he lived on the edge of a frog pond, and the pond was called Uncle Joe’s Frog Pond. Uncle Joe made the best molasses cookies of anyone in town, and people called them Joe Froggers because they were as plump and as dark as the little fat frogs that lived in the pond. Marblehead fishermen would give the old man a jug of rum and he would make them a batch of Froggers. The fishermen liked them because they never got hard, and women packed them in sea chests for the me to take to sea. Uncle Joe said what kept them soft was rum and sea water but he wouldn’t tell how he made them. And when he died, people said, “That’s the end of Joe Froggers.” But there was a woman named Mammy Cressy, who said she was Uncle Joe’s daughter, and Mammy Cressy gave the secret recipe to a fisherman’s wife. Then half the women in Marblehead began making Joe Froggers. With a pitcher of milk, Froggers became the town’s favorite Sunday night supper. They were also sold in a local bake shop. Children bought them, instead of candy, for a penny apiece, and they remained popular for generations. Joe Froggers, 6 inches in diameter, are made almost every day in the old Village Tavern in Sturbridge, and on Sunday nights they are served with a pitcher of milk, in the Publick House. The chef got the recipe from a woman whose ancestors lived in Marblehead in the days of Uncle Joe. The recipe has been in her family for more than a hundred years.”
---New England Cookbook, Eleanor Early [Random House:New York] 1954 (p. 166-7)
[NOTE: Early's recipe here.]
“Today a private residence, it was once a popular neighborhood tavern run by "Black Joe," a free black man who had fought in the Revolutionary War, and his wife, Aunt Crese. For the half-century following the Revolution, they served rum and homemade root beer to the Marblehead fishermen and their families who climbed the hill to dance to Black Joe's fiddling and to munch on Aunt Crese's Joe Froggers, plate-sized ginger cookies laced with rum.”
"A Visit to Breezy Marblehead Is Worth Its Salt," Dorothy Stephens, Los Angeles Times, Apr 7, 1991 pg. 8
How old are Joe Froggers [Floggers] really?
The legend is quaint, but print culinary evidence does not support the existence in colonial days. Just like Snickerdoodles. We can confirm similar recipes but not molasses cookies with rum. Of course, the Pilgrim fathers did not approve of alcohol. Neither did the early temperance folks/cookbook authors, like Catharine Beecher. It is quite possible folks snuck the ingredient in long before it was recorded in books. Sandra Oliver, food historian with notable expertise in 19th century New England fare states this:
“Joe floggers: The earliest reference I have found to this familiar-sounding item dates from 1852 and speaks of Joe floggers with an “l.” An 1889 citation describes “Joe-Floggers (peculiar pancakes stuffed with plums) for breakfast”--that is, pancakes with raisins in them. Joe-froggers with an “r” simply didn’t exist or were not widespared enough in the nineteenth century to be found in imprint or manuscript sources by that name. They seem to be a twentieth-century phenomenon, possibly derived from fishermen’s “floggers.”“
---Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and ther Food, at Sea and Ashore, in the Nineteenth Century, Sandra L. Oliver [Mystic Seaport Museum:Mystic CT] 1995 (p. 138)
The oldest print evidence (including recipe) we find for Joe Froggers dates to 1954. Both credit Old Sturbridge Village (Sturbridge MA)as the for re-introducing this "old fashioned" cookie to modern American tourists. OSV re-creates an 1830s New England village. Whatever the truth, whoever decided to sell Joe Froggers was brilliant. No better way to experience history than by tasting it.
"Old Sturbridge Village is a slice out of yesterday. Nestled there on the banks of the little Quinebaug River in southern Massachusetts, this 200-acre tract of unspoiled countryside is a New England Williamsburg...The Place I loved best was Minor Grant's store-- it drew me in by the nose. Cookies were baking, the old-time favorites: hobnails, lumberjacks... and those bog Joe Froggers."
---"Spice Wheels," Clementine Paddleford, Los Angeles Times, May 2, 1954 (p. L27)
1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp. salt
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup rum
2 tsps. baking soda
2 cups dark molasses
7 cups flour
1 tbsp. ginger
1 tsp. clove
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
1. Cream shortening and sugar until light.
2. Dissolve salt in water and mix with rum.
3. Add baking soda to molasses.
4. Sift flour with ginger, clove, nutmeg and allspice. Add liquid ingredients alternately with flour mixture to creamed mixture. Stir well between additions. Dough should be sticky. Chill overnight in refrigerator.
5. In morning, flour board and rolling pin. Roll dough ougt to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with large cutter. (A big brandy snifter makes a nice Joe Frogger.)
---New England Cookbook, (p. 167-168)
Related cookies? Hermits & Snickerdoodles.
Sugar cookies: Jumbles & American sugar cakes
Food historians trace the history of these cookies and cakes to Medieval Arab cuisine, which was rich in sugar. Small sugar cakes with nuts (most often almonds) and spices were known to these cooks and quickly adopted by the Europeans. This sweet culinary tradition was imported by the Moors to Spain, diffused and assimilated throughout Europe, then introduced to the New World by 16th century explorers. The primary differences between English sugar cookies and their continental counterparts were the spices, use of nuts (lacking in English versions), and shapes.
Jumbles, Jambals & Iambals
In English cookbooks, precursors to sugar cookies were known by many names, most often: jumbal, jumble, jambal, jemelloe, gemmel. Jumbals were hard spiced biscuits. They were baked thick to make them suitable for journeys and could be stored for about a year. They were also typically twisted into knots, presumably to make them a little easier to break and eat.
"Jumbles...sometimes called knots, a type of biscuit popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. They were made from a light mixture of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour, flavoured with rosewater and aniseed or caraway seed. The mixture was made into thin rolls and shaped into rounds or knots before baking; the name derives from gemmel, twin, here referring to a double intertwined finger ring."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 423)
"Jumbals existed in Italy as cimbelline and in France as gimblettes, all manifestly related words. The pastry may have originated in Italy, but I believe that Favre is in error when he assigns cimabetta...as the etymology of gimblette... He also gives what he claims to be an ancient recipe from Albi which calls for parboiling the gimblettes afer "pricking the well," then baking them; also some old recipes for echaudes call for ring shapes. The first citing of jumbal in OED [Oxford English Dictionary] is from Markham, 1615, but Dawson gives a recipe in 1585, To make Jombils a hundred...Also, in The Accomplisht Cook, 1671, Robert May gives recipes for Jemelloes and Jamballs, which he directs us to "boil them in fair water like simnels" before baking them. This makes jumbals originally related in technique to other ancient cakes such as cracknells...and to the breads pretzels and bagels, for that matter."
---Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery, transcribed by Karen Hess [Columbia University Press:New York] 1995 (p. 349)
Robert May's The Accomplist Cook (London, 5th edition, 1685) contains this recipe, which is probably quite similar to the one that the original Mayflower passengers used:
"To make Jambals
Take a pint of fine wheat flour, the yolks of three or four new laid eggs, three or four spoonfuls of sweet cream, a few anniseeds, and some cold butter, make it into paste, and roul it into long rouls, as big as a little arrow, make them into divers knots, then boil them in fair water like simnels; bake them, and being baked, box them and keep them in a stove. Thus you may use them, and keep them all year." (p. 275)
Compare with Martha Washington's Recipes
"To Make Iumbals
Take a pound & a halfe of fine flowre & a pound of fine sugar, both searced & dried in an oven, 6 youlks, & 3 whites of eggs, 6 spoonfulls of sweet cream & as much rose water, fresh butter ye quantety of an egg. Mingle these together & make it into stiff paste. Work it a quarter of an hour then break it abroad, & put in as much annyseeds or carraway seeds as you shall think fit, & put in A little muske & ambergreece. roule them into rouls & make them in what forms you please. lay them on pie plates thin buttered, & prick them with holes all over. then bake them as you doe diet bread. If this quantety of eggs will not be enough to wet ye flour & sugar, put in 23 or 4 more, but no more cream, butter, not rosewater."
---Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery, transcribed by Karen Hess [Columbia University Press:New York] 1995 (p. 348)
[NOTE: Martha Washington's book also proffered recipes for leamon (lemon), almond, and barberry iumbals (jumbals). Historic recipes are published in this book.]
And this twentieth century rendering:
"Jumbles (American Recipe)
Ingredients.--14 ozs. of flour. 5 ozs. of sugar, 3 ozs. of butter, 1 eg, the finely-grated rind and juice of 1 lemon, 3 teaspoonfuls of milk, 1 teaspoonful of cream of tartar, 1/2 a teaspoonful of carbonate of soda. Method.--Beat the butter and sugar to a cream, add the egg, milk, lemon-juice, and rind. Sieve the flour, cream of tartar, and soda, and miz with the other ingredients. Roll out rather thinly and cut into rounds, or cut into long, narrow strips, which, after being lightly pressed into a round shape with the palm of the hand, should be wound round and round to form small cakes. Bake in a quick oven. Time.--To bake, about 10 minutes...Sufficient for about 1 1/2 lbs. of jumbles. Seasonable at any time."
---Mrs. Beeton's Every-Day Cookery, New Edition [Ward, Lock & Co.:London] 1909 (p. 429)
Want to make jumbles at home? Modernized recipe, adapted from Eliza Leslie's 1857 cookbook here:
Makes about 3 dozen
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon rose water
3 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat Oven to 375 degrees F. Sift flour with spices. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar until very light. Add egg and rose water, blending thoroughly, Add dry ingredients all at once to creamed mixture, blending well. Wrap dough and chill at least 2 hours. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out circles with a wine glass or cut into thin shapes and shape into rings...Bake on ungreased cookie sheets 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. Remove to a rack, sprinkle with sugar, and cool."
---Hearthside Cooking: Early American Southern Cuisine, Nancy Carter Crump [Univeristy of North Carolina Press:Chapel Hill] 2nd edition, 2008 (p. 212-213) [NOTE: Hearth cookery instructions also included in this book. Happy to send in you need them.]
American sugar cakes
American "sugar cakes" appear to be an iteration of the English jumble, without the fancy shape. Modern sugar cookies present three ways: molded, cut & dropped.
"To Make Sugar Cakes
"Take 3 ale quarts of fine flowre, & put to it a pound of sugar, beaten & searced,; 4 youlks of eggs, strayned thorough a fine cloth with 12 or 13 spoonfulls of good thick cream; & 5 or 6 spoonfulls of rosewater; A pound & a quarter of butter, washt in rose water & broaken in cold, in bits. Knead all these ingredients well together. After, let it ly A while, covered well, to rise. The roule them out & cut them with a glass, & put them on plates (a little buttered) in an oven gently heat. All these kinde of things are best when ye [the] sugar & flower are dryed in an oven before you use ym [them]."
---Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery, transcribed by Karen Hess [Columbia University Press:New York]1981 (p. 309)
[NOTES: (1) Ms. Hess adds these observations: "We now come to a section of baked cakes, starting off with what Americans would call cookies. This is an excellent recipe for sugar cookies, really sand tarts. The dough will not actually rise, but even a short period of rest permits a maturing and fermentation that improve texture and flavor...A note on the word flour. It comes from French fleur de farine, flower of meal...Flour and flower were not differentiated until the eighteenth century..."ibid. P. 309-10 (2) this book contains two more recipes for sugar cakes.]
Three pounds of flour, sifted.
One pound of butter.
A pound and a half of powdered sugar.
Half a pint of milk.
Two tablespoons full of brandy.
A small tea-spoonful of pearl-ash dissolved in water.
Four table-spoonfuls of carraway seeds.
Cut the butter into the flour. Add the sugar and carraway seeds. Pour in the brandy, and then the milk. Lastly, put in the pearl-ash. Stir all well with a knife, and mix it thoroughly, till it becomes a lump of dough. Flour your paste-board and lay the dough on it. Knead it very well. Divide it into eight or ten pieces, and knead each piece separately. Then put them all together, and knead them very well in one lump. Cut the dough in half, and roll it out into sheets, about half an inch thick. Beat the sheets of dough very hard, on both sides, with the rolling-pin. Cut them out into round cakes with the edge of a tumbler. Butter iron pans, and lay the cakes in them. Bake them of a very pale brown. If done too much they will lose their taste. These cakes kept in a stone jar, closely covered from the air, will continue perfectly good for several months."
---Seventy-Five Reciepts, for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats, By a Lady of Philadelphia (Eliza Leslie), facsimile reprint 1828 edition by Monroe and Francis:Boston [Appelwood Books:Chester CT] (p. 62-3)
Take a half a pound of dried flour, a quarter of a pound of fresh butter, a quarter of a pound of sifted loaf sugar; then mix together the flour and the sugar; rub in the butter, and add the yolk of an egg beaten with a table-spoonful of cream; make it into a paste, roll, and cut it into small round cakes, which bake upon a floured tin."
---The Good Housekeeper, Sarah Josepha Hale (p. 99)
[NOTE: this author also wrote "Mary Had a Little Lamb"]
"Ethel's Sugar Cookies.
"A Time-tested family favorite...made with granulated sugar.
3/4 cup shortening (part butter or margarine)
1 cup butter
1/2 tsp. lemon flavoring or 1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups Gold Medal Flour
1 tsp. baking powder
> 1 tsp. salt
Mix shortening, sugar, eggs, and flavoring thoroughly. Measure flour by dipping method...or by sifting. Stir flour, baking powder, and salt together; blen in. Chill at least 1 hr. Heat oven to 400 degrees (Mod. hot). Roll dough 1/8' thick on lightly floured board. Cut with 3" cooky cutter. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 6 to 8 min., or until cookies are delicate golden color. Makes about 4 doz. cookies. Note: Do not use Gold Medal Self-Rising Flour in this recipe.
"Mary's Sugar Cookies
From Mary Herman...made with confectioners' sugar.
1 1/2 cups sifted confectoners' sugar
1 cup butter or margarine
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond flavoring
2 1/2 cups Gold Medal Flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
Mix sugar and butter. Add egg and flavorings; mix thoroughly. Measure by dipping method...or by sifting. Stir dry ingredients together and blend in. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hr. Heat oven to 375 degrees (quick mod.). Divide dough in half and roll 3/16" thick on lightly floured pastry cloth. Cut with cooky cutter; sprinkle with sugar. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 8 to 8 min., or until delicately golden. Makes 5 doz. 2 to 2 1/2" cookies. Note: If you use Gold Medal Self-Rising Flour, omit soda and cream of tartar."
---Betty Crocker's Cooky Book [General Mills:Minneapolis MN] 1963 (p. 18)
2/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons milk
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Thoroughly cream shortening, sugar, and vanilla. add egg and milk; beat till light and fluffy. Sift together dry ingredients: blend into creamed mixture. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill at least one hour. On lightly floured surface, foll to 1/8 inch thickness. Vut in desired shapes with cutters. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool slightly; remove. Makes about 3 dozen."
---Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, [Meredith Corp.:Des Moines IA] 1976 (p. 122)
[NOTES: (1) FT editor note: once chilled, you can also roll dough into small balls (about 1/2 size of golf ball, press center down with thumb and fill hole with sprinkles, colored sugar or jam. (2) Drop Sugar Cookies recipe instructs: "Prepare Sugar Cookies (page 122) but omit 1/2 cup flour. Drop from teaspoon onto cookie sheet. If desired, flatten each by pressing with fork tines. Bake at 375 degrees about 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 48 cookies. (p. 118). }
Related foods? Moravian sugar cakes, Mexican wedding cakes & Thumbprint cookies.
Baked goods topped or filled with fruit preserves feature prominently in many cuisines. Think: Linzertortes & Hammentashen. Thumbprint (aka Thimble) cookies combine these two traditions. It also confirms the "thumbprint" recipe name [at least in the United States] happened sometime in the 1950s. Modern Swedish Hallongrottor and Rosenmutter cookies/cakes may possibly be a Swedish-American twist on this culinary tradition. The earliest recipes we found titled "Thumbprint Cookies" in a USA source ("Favorite Recipe," Hutchinson News Herald [KS], June 20, 1949 (p. 5) does not employ fruit filling. These hardy sugar cookies are covered with chopped nuts and they are marked with a thumbprint halfway through the baking period.
Method I....This rule makes 28 amusing little cakes.
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup finely chopped pecan meats
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt if the butter is unsalted
Sift and stir in:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Place the bowl containing the dough over hot water so that the dough will become soft enough to handle.
Roll it into 1 inch balls. Make a depression in each ball. Place in the depression a bit of:
Drained strawberry preserves
1/2 pecan meat
Bake the tots on a greased sheet in a moderately hot oven 400 degrees F. for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle them with:
---The Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer & Marion Rombauer Becker [Bobbs-Merrill Company:Indianapolis] 1953 (p. 681)
Nut-rich...the thumb dents filled with sparkling jelly...
1/2 shortening (part butter or margarine)
1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg, separated
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Sift together and stir in....
1 cup Gold Medal Flour
1/4 tsp. salt
Roll into 1" balls. Dip in slightly beaten egg whites. Roll in finely chopped nuts (3/4 cup). Place about 1" apart on ungreased baking sheet and press thumb into center of each. Bake until set. Cool. Place in thumbprints a bit of chopped candied fruit, sparkling jelly, or tinted confectioners' sugar icing. Temperature 375 degrees F., Time: Bake 10 to 12 min. Amount: About 2 doz. 1 1/2" cookies."
---Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book, 2nd edition, revised and enlarged [McGraw Hill:New York] 1956 (p. 219)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg white, slightly beaten
1 cup finely chopped nuts
1 cup strawberry or other jelly
Beat butter with sugar until smooth and creamy. Add egg and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in flour and salt. With floured hand, roll dough into 1-inch balls. Dip balls into beaten egg white, then into nuts. Place cookies 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets. With a thimble, handloe of a wooden spoon or thumb, make a depression in center of each cookie. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool cookies on a rack. If centers have risen, make depression again while cookies are warm. When cool, fill centers with jelly. Makes about 24 2-inch cookies."
---"Tea-time can be fun-time for housewives, neighbors, school kids and friends," Chicago Daily Defender, August 26, 1971 (p. 20)
"Some traditions go on and on. When I was a little girl an aunt let us children help her bake Thimble Cookies... Thimble Cookies
1 cup (2 one-quarter lb. sticks) butter
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups unsifted flour, stir to aerate before measuring
1/4 cup (about) strawberry jam
In a medium mixing bowl cream butter and sugar. Thorougly beat in egg yolks and vanilla. With a wooden spoon gradually work in flour until blended. Chill if necessary before shaping. Shape dougn into 1-in. balls. Place balls about 1 1/2 in. apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Using a lightly floured thimble, press a small hole about 1/4-in. deep in the top of each cookie. Fill each hole with strawberry jam. Bake in a preheated 325-deg. oven until browned on bottom but not on top--about 25 min. Remove to wire racks to cool. (Cookies may slide on cookie sheets dring baking but this will not affecttheir shape.). Store in tightly covered tin box. Makes about 4 dozen."<<br> ---"Tradition Gives Children Role in Baking Thimble Cookies," Cecily Brownstone, New York Times, October 18, 1973 (p. OC-D28)
Related cookies? Sugar cookies.
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9 January 2015