The Art of Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

The Chinese military text, The Art of War, puts forward the idea that strategy and tactics are key to warfare. In other words, an educated guess is much better than a mere gut decision when going into battle. But what about the art of chewy oatmeal cookies? Surely some gut decisions can help secure a win here and there. Can you guess which nation took these cookies to battle and successfully defended their land?

The answer to this question lies in the origins of the cookie who is a distant relative to the oatcake. With an appearance similar to that of the flatbread or pancake, the first oatcake was documented around 43 AD in Scotland, when the Romans conquered England. Recognizing it as one of the few grains that grows in their climate, the Scots quickly incorporated it as a staple part of their diet right up to the 20th century, bringing their love for it everywhere as they immigrated abroad.

It’s said that 14th-century Scottish soldiers used to carry metal plates and sacks of oats with them and still be able to march further than other men. Later, 16th-century poet, playwright, and essayist, Samuel Johnson, described oats as being, “A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people” to which the people of Scotland replied, “England is noted for the excellence of her horses; Scotland for the excellence of her men.”

It wasn’t until the late 19th-century when the oatcake really evolved into the chewy cookie we know and love today. For this, we have American Fannie Merritt Farmer to thank. Having enrolled in the Boston Cooking School and earning a reputation as a top student, she stayed on past graduation where she became the assistant to the director. In 1881, she became the principal of the school and eventually published the first printed version of our oatmeal cookie in 1896’s The Boston Cooking School Cook Book.

It’s unknown when nuts and raisins were included in the much-loved cookie or even chocolate for that matter. But what we do know is that April 30 is National Oatmeal Cookie Day, so why not take your empty battle pouch to a local bakery and ask them to fill it with chewy oatmeal cookies.





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