Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

cookie the name used in N. America for a small, flat, sweet confection, which approximates to a sweet biscuit as eaten in England, although cookies tend to be richer and have a softer, chewy texture. The name first appeared in print as long ago as 1703.

Generations of immigrants from all over Europe have contributed to the American tradition of cookies. Early Dutch settlers introduced their recipes for various types of koekje, Dutch for ‘little cake’ (see banketbakkerij), the name which needed only slight adaptation to become cookie. English, Scandinavian, German, and E. European settlers introduced numerous types of biscuit, including many which could be classed as cookies, and maintained their connection with feast days. Cookies were originally associated, in the USA, with New Year’s Day; references cited by Craigie and Hulbert (1938) from the early part of the 19th century show that cookies and cherry bounce (a cherry cordial) were the correct fare with which to greet visitors on that occasion, although already threatened ‘by plum-cake and outlandish liqueurs’, as one author put it.