Last week, along with sharing the news about the next program in the Colonial Cookery and Customs for Kids series on Jan. 28, Nick Foster, office manager at the Wilton Historical Society, sent some notes on why Americans prefer “cookies” over the very British “biscuits.”
The question is part of the Did You Know feature that appears at the wiltonhistorical.org website. “The answer to this is probably twofold: (1) our early Dutch heritage and (2) our revolutionary tradition of separating ourselves from “all things British,” according to Foodtimeline.org.
“Early English and Dutch immigrants first introduced the cookie to America in the 1600s. While the English primarily referred to cookies as small cakes, seed biscuits, or tea cakes, or by specific names, such as jumbal or macaroon, the Dutch called them koekjes, a diminutive of koek (cake),” according to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America.
“Etymologists note that by the early 1700s, koekje had been anglicized into ‘cookie’ or ‘cookey’ and the word clearly had become part of the American vernacular. Following the American Revolution, people from other parts of the country became familiar with the cookie when visiting New York City, the nation’s first capital, a factor that resulted in widespread use of the term.” The recipe for this month’s Colonial Cookery class is for New Year’s cake.