Americans and Cookies

Macarons, Raspberries, Pastries

The name cookie comes from the Dutch word koekje. The British call them biscuits, originating from the Latin bis coctum (seems somewhat risque) and translates into”twice baked.” Food historians appear to agree that snacks, or small cakes, were first utilized to check the temperature of an oven. A small spoonful of batter has been dropped on a skillet and place into the hearth oven. If it came out properly, the heat was ready for the whole cake or bread. Bakers and cooks employed this method for centuries, usually tossing out the test cake, till they figured out they may be missing something.

Alexander the Great’s army took a crude sort of cookie in their many campaigns, gobbling them as a fast pick-me-up after trouncing and pillaging cities within their own path, around the year 327 BC. As they became embraced by much of Europe, there are lots of documents referring to what’s currently our modern biscuits (but no Oreos). Fast forward into the seventh century. Persians (currently Iranians) cultivated sugar and started creating hamburgers and cookie-type sweets. The Chinese, always hoping to be first to the party, used honey and baked smallish cakes over an open fire in pots and tiny ovens. From the sixteenth century they created the cookie cookie, sometimes substituting abundant walnuts. Asian immigrants brought these biscuits to the New World, and they joined our growing list of popular variations.

From the Middle East and the Mediterranean, this newfound concoction found its way into Spain during the Crusades, and as the spice trade improved, due to explorers like Marco Polo, fresh and flavorful versions developed together with fresh baking methods. When it hit France, well, we understand how French bakers loved desserts and pastries. Cookies were added to their growing repertoire, and from the end of the 14th century, a person could purchase small filled wafers across the streets of Paris. Recipes started to look in Renaissance cookbooks. Most were simple creations made from butter or lard, honey or molasses, sometimes adding nuts and raisins. But when it comes to food, simple is not in the French language, so their fine pastry chefs raised the bar with Madeleines, macaroons, piroulines and meringue topping the list.

Biscuits (really hardtack) became the perfect traveling food, because they remained fresh for extended periods. For centuries, a”ship’s biscuit,” that some described as an iron-like feel, was aboard any boat that left port because it may last for the whole voyage. (Hopefully you’d powerful teeth which would also last.)

It was only natural that early English, Scottish and Dutch immigrants brought the first cookies to America. Our simple butter cookies strongly resemble British teacakes and Scottish shortbread. Colonial housewives took great pride in their own biscuits, which were known as”basic cakes” At the end, the Brits were enjoying afternoon tea with cakes and biscuits for centuries. From the early American cookbooks, cookies were relegated into the cake section and were known as Plunkets, Jumbles and Cry Babies. All three were your basic sugar or molasses cookies, but nobody seems to know where these names originated. Definitely not to be left out of the mix, foodie president Thomas Jefferson served no lack of biscuits and tea cakes to his guests, both in Monticello and the White House. Although more of an ice cream and pudding fan himself, he enjoyed treating and impressing his guests with a enormous array of sweets. Later presidents counted cookies as their favorite desserts, among them Teddy Roosevelt, who adored Fat Rascals (could I make that up?) Notwithstanding their unusual names, these two early recipes are fundamental molasses drop cookies, with candied fruits, nuts and raisins. They are still around, we just don’t call them anymore.

Brownies came about in a rather unusual manner. In 1897, the Sears, Roebuck catalogue sold the first brownie mix, introducing Americans to one of their favourite bar cookies.

Americans purchase over $7.2 billion worth of biscuits yearly, which clearly indicates a Cookie Monster nation. According to Best Ever Cookie Collection, here is how the top commercial brands stack up:

Nabisco Oreo
Who could have predicted the wild popularity of the Oreo cookie, introduced in 1912 from the Nabisco Baking Company. Or the humble beginnings of the Toll House cookie in 1937 in a native Northeast restaurant. The U.S. leads the world in cookie production and consumption, spending over $675 million annually just on Oreos. Toll House cookies are a close second, both packaged and homemade. The majority of us have our favorite, be it chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, sugar or good old Fig Newtons. Who wants afternoon tea? Americans consume them 24/7.

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