No need to wait until December 4—National Cookie Day—to celebrate these uniquely portable treats when the whole month of October is devoted to them. That’s right: It’s National Cookie Month, and a well-deserved honor it is. After all, we Americans down more than 2 billion cookies every year, and that translates to some 300 for each one of us.
So when did this love affair start? Actually, records suggest that cookie-style cakes date all the way back to 7th century Persia (now Iran), as it was one of the first countries to cultivate sugar. However, our notion of cookies came about quite by accident back in 17th and 18th century Europe. In those days, without thermostats, oven temperatures had to be tested somehow before bakers inserted their cakes. The solution: First bake just a small amount of cake batter. And the happy result? What the Dutch dubbed “koekje,” meaning “little cakes.” Then they, along with fellow English and Scotch immigrants, brought these goodies to America.
Thank goodness, right? And today, we enjoy all types:
As for everyone’s favorite? No surprise there. It’s the dropped variety, specifically chocolate chip. They represent about half of all the cookies we bake at home, while also being a marketplace top seller. Plus, it’s the official cookie of Massachusetts. Here’s why.
Back in 1937, Ruth Graves Wakefield of Whitman, Massachusetts ran the Toll House Restaurant, a building that harkened back to 1709 when it served as a true toll house. Stage coach passengers stopped there for a meal while the horses were changed and the toll was paid for the highway journey ahead.
Anyway, one day while making her “Butter Drop Do” cookies, she found she was missing an ingredient. To substitute, she chopped up a semi-sweet chocolate bar and added the bits to the batter. Instead of melting throughout as expected, though, they retained their shapes, and, lo and behold, Toll House Crunch Cookies were born.
Wakefield ultimately sold all legal rights to the use of the Toll House trademark to Nestle, which kept its exclusive right to it until August 25, 1953. Now it belongs to any and all.
More recently, two senate bills, one in 1999 and another in 2003, were introduced to make chocolate chip cookies Pennsylvania’s official cookie. Debate and disagreement followed, though, and the bills were finally tabled. Not dead in the water, but don’t hold your breath.
Meanwhile, here’s a cookie recipe sure to please even the least baker among us. It’s easy and foolproof, too—no burned bottoms, guaranteed.
Keren’s Forgotten Cookies
- 3 egg whites
- 6 ounces of chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup of sugar
Steps to take:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Beat egg whites until peaks form.
- Gradually add sugar and blend well.
- Add vanilla, almond extract, and chocolate chips and mix in well.
- On a well-buttered baking sheet, drop rounded teaspoonfuls of the mixture.
- Place in oven; turn off heat, and leave in until the oven is cool
- Serve and enjoy!