Everyone loves cookies. Nikki’s Blake tells mom to get cookies and popcorn chicken from the store. Simon the techno-tyke has a more extensive shopping list. Patrick needs to get: Pears, pineapples, two broccoli, a hot dog, cookies and gummi worms. When I go to the store my own cookie monster sticks her head out of the window and barks loudly to remind me to get dog cookies. She likes the green ones and it’s very pathetic if the box isn’t opened right away.
What’s your favorite cookie? Chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, shortbread, sugar, ginger snaps, they all have their fans. Telltale says it’s hands down Girl Scout thin mints. Purrdey says Hobnobs. One nibble and you’re nobbed. I had to go look them up they’re Scottish like Purrdey. There’s a huge contingent of Snickerdoodle fans. Remember the thumbprint ones with the big dollop of jam in them? What about Lebkuchen? The traditional German Christmas cookie is like a soft gingerbread cookie with molasses and warm spices. There’s a glaze on top that’s just a little bit sweet with a hint of lemon. That’s like all my favorite cookies rolled into one.
My Jr. Research assistant Mika Traglio discovered that our english word cookie comes from the Dutch word koekje which means little cake. Cookies are far older than that though. The latin word is bis coctum, twice baked, that’s where we get the words biscuit and biscotti from. Culinary historians think that Roman cookies were test cakes, small amounts of batter used to test oven temperatures. Basically, as my friend Keasha says, once they discovered sugar they threw it together with flour to make treats for the kids. In Egypt the shopping list was: Mutton, an olive, dried carp and COOKIES. Milk was a delicacy in the hot lands of the Nile so only Pharaoh got milk and cookies.
One of the interesting things I learned researching this is that cookies evolved into the ideal traveling food. They’re portable and last for a long time. Hard Tack and Ships Biscuit are variations of cookies. The Anzac Biscuit went to war with Australian and New Zealand soldiers. It took two months on an unrefrigerated ship for the cookies to reach Gallipoli. I got a few care packages in school. I can’t imagine what they’d have been like after two months in the hold of a ship travelling through the hot lattitudes.
Do you know how many Animal Crackers there are in a box? There are 22 and currently 17 different animals: tigers, cougars, camels, rhinoceros, kangaroos, hippopotami, bison, lions, hyenas, zebras, elephants, sheep, bears, gorillas, monkeys, seals, and giraffes.
What about Lorna Doones? Do you know what’s special about Lorna Doone cookies? Some unsung marketing genius at Nabisco took an ordinary square shortbread cookie and made it into a diamond by imprinting the name diagonally across the face of the cookie. It’s like all the other really great ideas, brilliantly simple.
Did you read about toothpaste pumps here? It’s nothing compared to the machine invented to create Fig Newtons. In 1891 James Henry Mitchell invented a machine which worked like a funnel within a funnel; the inside funnel supplied jam, while the outside funnel pumped out the dough.
So what’s my favorite cookie? There’s no question about it. I’d love a warm fresh from the oven Toll House cookie with an ice cold glass of milk right now.
The orignial Nestlé Toll House Cookie
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels 1 cup chopped nuts
PREHEAT oven to 375° F.
COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.