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Posts Tagged ‘saccharin

“The house smelled musty and damp, and a little sweet, as if it were haunted by the ghosts of long-dead cookies”*…


Girl Scout Cookies come in a dizzying variety. Between cool Thin Mints and decadent Peanut Butter Patties, there’s a flavor that appeals to everyone. Which is helpful to the girls in the American youth organization, who sell the cookies to learn business skills and raise funds.

It’s a big operation, so much so that seemingly similar cookies differ across the United States. Since two commercial bakers provide the cookies to different parts of the country, one scout’s Peanut Butter Patty is another’s Tagalong. Even the recipes are slightly different. But all Girl Scout cookies have a common ancestor. Surprisingly, it was kind of boring.

It was an innocuous beginning for a glorious, cookie-filled century. The recipe for the original cookie was provided by local Scouting director Florence E. Neil and printed in the July 1922 issue of The American Girl Magazine (now defunct and unrelated to the current, doll-related American Girl magazine). It was very simple: a cup of butter (or “substitute”) mixed with sugar, eggs, vanilla, milk, and flour. Baking the mix in a “quick” oven produced super simple sugar cookies.

But simplicity was likely necessary, as the scouts baked the cookies themselves. According to the Girl Scouts, this recipe was distributed to 2,000 scouts in the Chicago area who likely needed something quick, simple, and inexpensive to sell. The ingredients for a batch of six to seven dozen cookies clocked in at 26 to 36 cents, which in today’s money is less than six dollars. The scouts could sell a dozen cookies for about the same amount, making a tidy profit…

The tasty tale in its entirety at “The First Girl Scout Cookie Was Surprisingly Boring.”

* Neil Gaiman, American Gods


As we take just one more, we might send almost, but not quite cloying birthday greeting to Ira Remsen; he was born on this date in 1846.  A physician and chemist who became the second President of Johns Hopkins University, he is perhaps best remembered as the discoverer (with Constantin Fahlberg) of the artificial sweetener saccharin.



Written by LW

February 10, 2018 at 1:01 am

The tastiest of the tasty…


Inspired by The Morning News’ Tournament of Books, the folks at Food52.com launched The Tournament of Cookbooks!— in which “the 16 most notable cookbooks of the year vied for the coveted Piglet trophy,” with leading food writers and chefs servings as judges.

And a winner has emerged:  April Bloomfield’s A Girl and Her Pig, Recipes and Stories.  Follow her progress– and the fates of the vanquished– in this summary bracket.


As we reach for our forks, we might spare a sweet thought for Ira Remsen; he died on this date in 1927.  An accomplished doctor, medical researcher, and the second President of Johns Hopkins University, Remsen is perhaps best remembered for his discovery (in 1879), with research assistant Constantin Fahlberg, of the artificial sweetener orthobenzoyl sulfimide.  (Munching on a roll in the lab, Remsen noticed that it was unnaturally sweet; as there was nothing unusual about the bread, he licked his fingers, onto which a few grains of the chemical had stuck. Eureka!)  Remsen and his assistant published the finding the following year, and Remsen put it out of his mind…  until Fahlberg patented the sweetener and began to market it as “saccharin.”

Ira Remsen



Written by LW

March 4, 2013 at 1:01 am

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