The History of Cookies – The Koekje

There are many sweet pastries and delicacies in the world today that bring joy and happiness to people. Although there are the classic favorites such as cakes, cupcakes, pies, and of course, the cookie or ‘Koekje.’ What are the origins of the humble cookie, and how did it develop through the centuries? Here are some interesting facts about the world famous sweet treat.

The Origin of Koekje

The word cookie actually originates from the Dutch word ‘koekje’ or its more informal variation among the Dutch dialects, ‘koekie’. The word literally means little cake. The word and presumably, the dessert itself arrived in America and entered the American language in the early part of the 17th century when Dutch settlers began to arrive in America and establish their colonies which they dubbed New Netherlands. 


The Beginnings of the Koekje

For a very long time cookie-like delicacies such as hard wafers have already existed. However, they were not always the sweet kind that it is now known today. Records show that our beloved cookies trace their origins to 7th century Persia when sugar was introduced as a daily staple in the region. Afterward, the cookie spread to Europe when Muslims conquested the terinorry of Spain. By the turn of the 14th century, every European from the lowly street vendors to the members of the royal family know the taste of these cookies. Aside from the Persian origins, some sources also relay that the art of biscuit and cookie making were actually from the Romans. An early ancestor in a Roman cookbook describes a biscuit that is made from a thick wheat paste which was then boiled and spread on a plate for it to dry and harden. It is then served with honey and pepper after frying it to make it crispy. Other accounts point to the Egyptians and how their sailors needed nutritious food that they could take with them on long journeys. They invented another cookie ancestor called the dhourra cake

Development from the Middle Ages to the Present

Beyond the invention of cookies, various civilizations, cultures, and societies began to incorporate these sweets in their daily life, started making their own versions and twist to the sweet delicacy. The English royal family of Tudors were big fans of sweets such as fruit preserves, jelly, and gingerbread. English bakers began to use marzipan to make sweet, edible sculptures resembling people, animals, and caster. Eccles cakes were also invented during this time. By the 19th century, cookies and biscuits became the customary partner of an afternoon tea.

Baked cookies

As mentioned, cookies entered the Americas as a delicacy brought by Dutch, English, and Scottish immigrants. Early American cookbooks mentioned cookie making at the end of the cake-making sections. The butter cookies in the United States bore a strong resemblance to the Scots’ shortbread and the tea cakes of the English. The American cookies of the time carried exciting names such as Cry Babies, Plunkett, and Jumbles. Today, cookies have become a staple in everyday life of a household, with 95% of American household consuming cookies and biscuits, as a result, 2 billion cookies are consumed per year, which amounts to 300 cookies per person annualy.