Thursday, March 8, 2018

Cookies? They Tested What?

Christmas Cookies, Cookies, Star, Deco  When I was growing up, I'd spend hours making cookies from scratch.  I'd always double the recipe to get a half of one recipe.  It had something to do with my father and brothers always had to 'quality check' every pan of cookies that came out of the oven.

Sometimes, the cookies were still quite warm and they'd bounce the cookies from one hand to another till it was cool enough to eat.

As an adult, I hardly make cookies, mostly because I'd have to eat them myself and I don't want to eat 60 cookies before they get hard. I also choose not to find the time to make them as I can use the time for other things.

It is thought that cookies originally appeared when a little cake dough was thrown in the hot oven to see if it was ready to bake a cake.  The earliest cookies appeared in the 7th century Persia due to the production of sugar in the region.  The term cookie is said to be from the Dutch word 'Keokje' meaning little cake.

By the late 16th century, cookie recipes were appearing in recipe books but they were still referred to as fine cakes. At about the same time 'biscuits' appeared as hardtack which were solid and used on long ocean voyages.  With in the next few years, bakeries in Europe were run by the guild system so the quality of their product.

Sometime between the late 1600's and late 1700's recipe names changed from small cakes to cookies.  At about the same time, cookies made their way to the United States with some of the immigrants.  As the people spread out from the east coast and the railroad crossed the country, new food items made their way into new areas and these new ingredients soon became part of cookie recipes.

As for commercially prepared cookies, the original sweet ones were imported from the United Kingdom but once they became popular in the United States, Belcher and Larabee, cracker bakers in Albany decided to import the necessary equipment to make cookies here.  This was just after the Civil War when people wanted more luxurious items.

During this same time period, cookies became fancy treats in Victorian England and were often animal shaped.  "Zoologicals" aka animal crackers, made their appearance at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.  When P.T. Barnum's circus traveled to the United Kingdom, manufacturers there created Animal Crackers which were considered a marketing tool.

Sometime during the 1890's the National Biscuit Company introduced machines which would individually wrap and pack crackers but the machines were easily adopted to cookies. Their popular and well known version of Animal Crackers were introduced in 1902 to the public.  At the time, the box was advertised to be a Christmas tree ornament which is why there is a string across the top.

In the 20th century is when commercially manufactured cookies took off due to improved technology and creativity.  Even the Girl Scouts have their own varieties which are commercially manufactured and sold.  If you go through any supermarket and check the shelves you'll see so many different flavors available.  I love Walkers Shortbread cookies and Keebler Sandies pecan cookies best but I seldom buy them as I'll sit there and eat the whole package in one sitting.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.

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