A Very Brief History of the Cookie

The history of the cookie is long, complicated, and involves many variations and debates (is a Fig Newton a cookie?). But who needs complicated? Let’s just all agree that a Fig Newton is not a cookie (just like cereal is not soup and a hot dog on a bun is not a sandwich) and review the CliffsNotes version of the cookie.

After all, there’s so many cookies and so little time.

The Very Beginning – 7th Century AD

Cookies originated in Persia (now Iran) a loooong time ago when they began cultivating sugar. Bakers made small, round “test cakes” to check their oven temperature (obviously not regulated with electricity like they are now).

14th Century

By now, cookies were popular enough to be found in Renaissance cookbooks. Were they as healthy and delicious as Maxine’s Heavenly cookies? No.

16th Century

Biscuits called hard tack were a common food item, because they traveled well (much like our snack packs!). They were popular on boats. (Chips) Ahoy there, matey! #DadJoke

soldiers with cookies


17th and 18th Centuries

Being a baker was a serious profession and required years of apprenticeship through the Martha Stewart School of Bakery…just kidding about that last part. But bakers were part of guilds, which could be regulated by authorities.

Cookies made it to the United States at the end of the 1600s, usually in the form of tea cakes and shortbread. Special thanks to the English, Scottish, and Dutch immigrants for making that happen! #YouDaRealMVP

19th Century

Trains change everything! Because people could travel farther distances in a shorter amount of time, bakers had access to new ingredients like coconut and oranges. Cookies break out of their shortbread-style mold.

20th Century

Now it’s electricity’s turn to change everything. Refrigerators and iceboxes mean cookies can last longer. Also, people made cookies out of Kellogg’s cereal (Rice Krispie treats were invented in 1939. Do Rice Krispie Treats count as cookies?).

In 1937, Toll House Restaurant owner Ruth Graves Wakefield invented the chocolate chip cookie, and the world was forever changed.

In 1939, Betty Crocker made Toll House cookies famous by talking about them on the radio. Ruth came to an agreement with Nestle – they could print the recipe for Toll House cookies on their semi-sweet chocolate bar packaging if they would give her a lifetime supply of chocolate. #GreatDeal

toll house cookies

In the 1950’s, Tim Miller’s mom, Maxine, was known as a real whiz in the kitchen. She had several cookie recipes that were always a hit at parties.

21st Century

In 2013, Tim Miller and Robert Petrarca started replacing the unhealthy ingredients in Maxine’s recipe with healthy ones. The result was so good that they started Maxine’s Heavenly so they could share it with the world.

And the world was forever changed…again.

Looking for a much, much longer history of the cookie? Here you go!

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