urban folklore

Wed, 29 Nov 1995 17:18:49 -0500

The cookie recipe is indeed a version of urban folklore. There have
been other versions--Mr. Fields chocolate-chip cookies, the older "Red
Velvet Cake" supposedly served at the Waldorf-Astoria (from the 1950s).
This genre of folklore, according to Brunvand (_Curses_, NY: Norton,
1989), goes back at least to the 1949 edition of Massachusetts Cooking
Rules, Old and New, published in Boston by the Women's Republican Club of
Massachusetts, which there is a recipe for "$25 Fudge Cake," credited to
a Mrs. Randall B. Hatch, of Whitman, who got it from a friend, who had
to pay $25 to the chef of a railroad; then there is another version from
Milwaukee in 1949, who had to pay $100 instead of what she thought was
$1.00 for Mrs. Stevens Fudge Recipe. Another version is reported from
the American Embassy in Vienna, in their newsletter from 1988, which is
a "true" story about a $250 misunderstanding for a recipe from

Ah, good to eat, good to think with....

Eric Silverman
DePauw Univ.