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National Brownie Day

HISTORY OF NATIONAL BROWNIE DAY

 

According to legend, brownies were invented in 1893 at the Palmer House Hotel. Bertha Palmer, a well-known Chicago socialite whose husband owned the hotel, requested a dessert fit for ladies attending the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition from a pastry chef. She asked for a cake-like treat that could be included in packaged lunches. The Palmer House Brownie with walnuts and an apricot sauce was the result. Patrons at the current Palmer House Hotel can get a dessert created using the same recipe. The term was given to the dessert after 1893, but no cook books or magazines utilized it at the time.

By 1907, the brownie had established itself in a recognizable shape, appearing in Maria Willet Howard's Lowney's Cook Book as an adaptation of a "Bangor Brownie" recipe from the Boston Cooking School. It made the dish richer by adding an extra egg and a square of chocolate. The term "Bangor Brownie" comes from the town of Bangor, Maine, where tradition has it that the original brownie recipe was produced by a housewife. Mildred Brown Schrumpf, a Maine food educator and columnist, was a leading proponent of the claim that brownies were originated in Bangor. While "The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink" refuted Schrumpf's claim that the brownie was invented by "Bangor housewives," "The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America" claimed to have found evidence to back up Schrumpf's claim in the form of several 1904 cookbooks that included a recipe for "Bangor Brownies."

 

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