The History of the Cookie Exchange
Copyright 2004 Robin Olson. All Rights Reserved.
(October 2010 - I've update the history of the CE in my book,
The Cookie Party Cookbook, (St. Martin's) available
at Amazon and other retail book sellers. The newer information shows that
cookie swapping has been around since the late 1800's. The article
below, I wrote in 2004.)
"What is the history of the Cookie
Since 1997, I've stated that the oldest published Cookie Exchange history
that I've known of, was from a recipe pamphlet that I inherited from my mother
in law, dated 1962.
After being asked this question yet again five times just this week, I decided
to search again and find a better answer. Then the proverbial light bulb
went off over my head... I've been a member of Ancestry.com for the last
several years and have had access to their Historical Newspapers Collection.
When I searched this time over a thousand articles pulled up!
Obviously, I couldn't copy all of them but I did copy a few, see my folder
screenshot below and notice the dates. The earliest printed reference is
1936 in Syracuse, NY. (See below for the article)
One would be correct and could easily say that the Cookie Exchange as we
know it, came to be in the early 20th Century. The question of "who first"
lingers, but the bottom line is that we will probably never know who 'thought
of it first'. It may be the kind of event that cropped up all over
the place around the same time.
After copying and viewing all the above articles, I feel comfortable in reporting
that the Cookie Exchange has been around for at least 70 years, as documented
by newspapers around the US. The cookie party has been hosted by relatives,
friends, neighbors, women's groups, social clubs, churches and schools and
has primarily been a "ladies only" event. (That's changing in this
We'll never know who formalized the Cookie Exchange, but if you think about
it, people have been doing versions of Cookie Exchanges for as long as there
have been, well, --people !
For thousands of years people have been gathering in groups for feasts, making
and sharing foods in a celebratory way.
In that respect the Cookie Exchange has been around forever.
Syracuse, New York, 1936