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The History Of Cookies And Where The Word Comes From

June 22, 2010

Who doesn’t love a good cookie? Just about everyone enjoys these delectable treats from time to time. The cookies themselves can vary as well – big or small, simple or complex. Interestingly enough, these delicacies did not start out as the treats we recognize today. In fact, the story of cookies and where the word “cookie” comes from is a very interesting tale that is easily accessible by searching for the history of cookies online.

Like many foods that are common today, cookies actually came into being accidentally. Cookie history begins in the Persian Empire around the 7th century A.D. The Persians were known for baking lavish cakes, and in the absence of thermostats, bakers would use a small amount of cake batter in order to test the temperature of the oven before proceeding. While they were using their own Persian recipes, these recipes eventually followed both the sugar and spice trade and made their way to Europe. Europeans typically used honey as a sweetener, as they did not have access to sugar. Sugar is thought to have originated in Southeast Asia, and was eventually brought to Persia (modern Iran). From Persia, it travelled to the eastern Mediterranean. The invasion of Iberia by the Muslims in the 8th century, combined with the Crusades of the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries, the sugar and spice trade – along with key cooking techniques and ingredients – spread from Arabia to Northern Europe. In the 14th century, as a result of the Renaissance, cookbooks were developed and eventually spread to all of Europe. As it turns out, these cookbooks are filled with recipes for cookies.

Another important facet of cookie history is the origin of the word “cookie.” Over time, the test cakes that originated in Persia became popular in different parts of the world; because the little cakes were drier than a large cake, they stayed fresh for a longer period of time. Cookies are called by different names in different languages, but the names all have a similar origin. For example, the British word for cookie is “biscuit” which comes from bis coctum which is Latin for “twice baked.” The American word “cookie” is actually of Dutch origin; the Dutch word for cake is koek, so the test cakes were called “little cakes” or koekje – which evolved into “cookie.”

The history of cookies and the origin of the very word “cookie” are interesting bits of culinary history. And now this information is not limited to food historians – people the world over can read up on the history of the word “cookie” and all types of cookies online.

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