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26th Jan 2014

Food for Thought: A Short History of Brownies

We need food and drink to survive, to nourish us and to keep us in tip-top shape. But did you ever wonder about the history behind certain foods?

This week we’re bringing you the history behind the brownie.

Like many foods out there, the history of the brownie is debated, with one of the origin stories dating back to the late 1800s.

The story goes that a wealthy woman and hotelier called Bertha Palmer sought a dessert for ladies who were attending the Columbian Exposition.

Palmer asked her chef at The Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago, to come up with a small dessert that could be tucked away in a small box for the ladies – she requested that the new confection would retain some cake-like qualities.

The result was a delicious and super-rich chocolate dessert with a fudgy-chocolate taste. Sadly, though the brownie at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel is still mentioned, the name of the chef has been lost.

Curiously enough, the origin of the brownie could also lie with Fannie Merritt Farmer, who, it is said, adapted her cookie recipe in favour of a rectangular pan.

It’s believed that the first mention of the word “brownie” was in the 1896 version of The Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Farmer, though this wasn’t actually in reference to the brownie we know today but a similar molasses cake that was baked in tin moulds.


Image via Wikimedia Commons


Food & Drink