The International History of Cookies
We at Collin Street Bakery have a special place in our hearts for cookies – and we’re not the only ones! When early humans began to use stones as tools, they would grind up grain, mix it with water, and cook the paste on hot stones. This paved the way for the range of baked goods available today! Here’s a brief history of cookies specifically, and how they are experienced around the world.
A Sweet History
Baking in early Persia wasn't the exact science it is today. Since it was difficult to determine the temperature in one’s oven, bakers would drop a small amount of batter into the oven as a test cake. From this seemingly insignificant experiment, the modern cookie was born.
Cookies are now known by several names. The word originally came from the Dutch word keojke, which means "little cakes." The Scottish now know them as sweet buns, and the English call them biscuits. No matter what you call them, they're little bites of heaven.
Every country gives its cookies a unique spin. In the U.S., cookies are enjoyed all year long, but their popularity skyrockets during the holiday season.
A Match Made in Cookie Heaven
Chocolate-chip cookies are an American staple. Fresh from the oven with a glass of cold milk, these delectable treats have become an ingrained part of American culture. The story goes that Ruth Wakefield, who ran the Toll House restaurant in Massachusetts, was shocked to find that she was out of nuts when baking her customers’ favorite treats. After some quick thinking, she grabbed a chocolate bar, cut it into chunks, and added them to the cookie batter. The product was an instant hit. Marjorie Husted, also known as Betty Crocker, raved about them on her radio program, and chocolate giant Nestle campaigned to purchase the recipe. Chocolate chip cookies were here to stay.
The Swedes love their pepparkakor, and the Australians have a passion for Anzac biscuits, but the French have elevated the simple cookie to something phenomenal. Light and airy Madeleines have a rich history that dates back to 18th century France. It is said that a servant girl named Madeleine baked these special sweets as a gift to the deposed king of Poland when he was sent to Lorraine in exile. Area nuns then purchased the recipe, and sold the delicate treats in support of their convent and school.
Almost every country has a local favorite when it comes to cookies. The Japanese have yokan, which are sweet squares made with azuki beans; the Italians are known for biscotti; and the Russians have kosh tili. The Austrians love their linzeraugen, and the Chinese weigh in with their hang geen beng.
This holiday season, indulge in old favorites and try some new tastes with our cherry icebox cookies, coconut macaroons, and princess squares. Whether you’re serving them to guests or gifting them to friends, cookies should be a part of every holiday menu.