Fig Newtons

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

Fig Newtons, trademarked by Nabisco, are popular bar cookies made of fig jam encased in cake-like pastry. They are surprisingly similar to the traditional fig rolls and ma’amoul, a sweet composed of shortbread pastry stuffed with figs, nuts, and other dried fruits, still popular today across the Middle East.

The technology that made Fig Newtons commercially viable in the United States has been subject to competing claims. One insists that Ohioan Charles Roser invented a machine around 1891 that allowed the cookies to be mass-produced by funneling the jam and the cookie dough separately but simultaneously. The other asserts that James Henry Mitchell of Philadelphia invented the cookie in 1891 when he came up with a duplex dough-sheeting machine and funnels.