How many cookies do Americans consume each year? That’s a good question, and one that I haven’t been able to find an answer to. One online source said “over 2 billion or 300 cookies per person.” But if you do the math, those numbers don’t add up right. So is it 2 billion (which seems like a low number to me)? Or is it 300 cookies per person? If we’re taking bets, I’m gonna go with the more likely 300 per person.
Regardless, it’s National Cookie Month and in honor, here’s some history on the origins of cookies.
According to culinary historians, cookies evolved out of the use of little test cakes. Back in the days of the Persian Empire, a small amount of cake batter was dropped onto baking pans to test the temperature of the oven before the cake was baked. The developing spice trade brought cooking techniques and ingredients such as sugar to Northern Europe in the Middle Ages and by the time of the Renaissance, cookbooks were filled with cookie recipes.
The word “cookie” comes from the Dutch word “koekje”, meaning “little cake” and it was the Dutch who first popularized cookies in the United States. According to The Oxford Companion to Food, the term “cookie” first appeared in print around 1703.
American colonists favored spice cookies, soft raisin cookies, shortbread, brown sugar-laced oatmeal, molasses and ginger drop cookies. Other sweet varieties were inspired by the Pennsylvania Dutch Mennonites, Amish, and Moravian communities. Early American cookbooks include recipes for jumbles, macaroons and gingerbread, Then the chocolate chip cookie was created by accident in 1930 in Massachusetts.
Zen Rabbit’s Gratitude Cookie™, is based on a simple butter or sugar cookie recipe, similar to those used for English tea cakes and Scottish shortbread.
Want to know even more? For details and history on specific kinds of cookies, check out foodtimeline.org. Happy Eating!