Posts Tagged ‘Celebrations’

When you think of Pittsburgh traditions, there are a  few things that usually jump to the front of your thoughts:

  • The Terrible Towel
  • People in Steeler’s gear, regardless of season or solemnity of occasion
  • Pierogies
  • Chair parking space holders

But there’s one more thing that makes ‘Burghers famous throughout the rest of the country: Wedding Cookies.

“But wait,” the unknowing non-Burgher might say, “People eat CAKE at weddings.”

True.  But while the traditional wedding cake still retains its touted position and remains a wonderful source of candid, frosting-smeared photos, the mighty cookie table often completely overshadows it.

The History of the Wedding Cookie Tradition

There are as many theories as to why we are such a cookie-loving people as there are types of cookies adorning the table at even the simplest of Pittsburgh weddings.

Necessity as the Mother of (delicious) Invention?

The wedding cookie tradition could have been born of necessity. As the steel mills closed down – and Pittsburghers began to tighten their collective belts, lavish wedding cakes were probably one of the first things to go.  Many a bride’s disappointment must have eased as her entire family pitched in for days (sometimes weeks) to bake and freeze a dizzying array of traditional wedding cookies for the big event. In many ways, baking the wedding cookies is as meaningful for the mother of the bride as it is for the bride herself!

A Cultural Melting Pot

Much of Pittsburgh’s population descends from hardworking immigrants who came to Pittsburgh in search of industrial work. There’s a strong possibility that the wedding cookie tradition came with them. Pinpointing which ethnicity made the tradition popular would be nearly impossible.  The credit for the Pittsburgh wedding cookie table is most often given to the Mediterranean and Eastern European cultural influences in this area.

The Popularity of Wedding Cookies

Regardless of where the wedding cookie table originated, it has certainly transcended its origins and has been embraced by an entire region of America. Though Pittsburgh is well known for it, the tradition is also prevalent in Ohio and parts of West Virginia and Virginia.  Articles on where to get custom wedding cookies that match the wedding color schemes are popping up in high-end bridal magazines and people across the country are starting to adopt the tradition.

There is definitely something very warm and inviting about packing up dozens of cookies to send home with guests as edible reminders of a fantastic and memorable evening. It’s no wonder the wedding cookie tradition is still strong and growing!

We’d love to see pictures of your wedding cookie tables! Feel free to upload them in the comments section!

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In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d write about the various cookies of Ireland.

The Oatmeal Cookie

Oatmeal cookies didn’t start out as the tasty, sugary desserts we know now. Back in the 1800′s, oats were plentiful in Ireland, England and Scotland. They were a staple food group for people and animals, used in a variety of dishes. Oat cakes were easy to make, preserve and dry. They were also inexpensive and filling. They were largely considered peasant food. Eventually, as more and more people could afford sweeteners, they began including honey, molasses and even sugar. The eventual result was today’s Oatmeal Cookie. Cookie gifts were often presented at the Celtic festival of Beltane to commemorate the beginning the summer season.

Shortbread Cookies

So, why’s it called “shortbread?” Well, it’s not because of height. The name “shortbread” actually refers to the ingredients. The term “shortening” is used to describe any fat that was used to create a nice, crumbly texture and rich, creamy taste. In this cookie’s case, butter is used.
Shortbread is extremely popular in Ireland and the British Isles. The dough holds its form while baking so shortbread can take on a number of shapes. Some of the most common shapes are shortbread “fingers” and shortbread rounds.

The Sugar Cookie

Often enjoyed at tea time, the sugar cookie is popular, not just in Ireland, but all over the world. Sugar cookies are simple to make and are the cookie equivalent of a blank slate. They can be cut into as many different shapes as you can think of and frosted in a myriad of ways.

Our Shamrock Smiley Cookies

Although they haven’t been served on St. Paddy’s day in Irish households through antiquity, we’re starting to see that our Shamrock Smiley Cookies are becoming a bit of a St. Paddy’s day tradition here in America. We would love hear about your St. Patrick’s day traditions and maybe even get a few pics of you chowing down on our Shamrock cookies!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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