August 5, 2017

"Today's featured picture" (at Wikipedia): The Homemade Brownie.



"This is an image of a chocolate brownie/Ɱ - Own work." Creative Commons license.

The Wikipedia main page always has a "featured picture" of the day.

I love the stark iconic quality of that picture, which appears at the top of the article "Chocolate brownie," identified as a homemade brownie (in contrast to — ugh! — "Store-bought brownies"). From the article:
One legend about the creation of brownies is that of Bertha Palmer, a prominent Chicago socialite whose husband owned the Palmer House Hotel. In 1893 Palmer asked a pastry chef for a dessert suitable for ladies attending the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition. She requested a cake-like confection smaller than a piece of cake that could be included in boxed lunches. The result was the Palmer House Brownie with walnuts and an apricot glaze...

The first-known printed use of the word "brownie" to describe a dessert appeared in the 1896 version of the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Farmer, in reference to molasses cakes baked individually in tin molds.
The Oxford English Dictionary has something earlier...
1883 J. Edge-Partington Random Rot vii. 312 Each with a huge hunch of ‘browny’ (bread sweetened with brown sugar and currants) in one hand.
... but that's a different food item, coming from Australia and New Zealand. The American "small square of rich, usually chocolate, cake containing nuts" is traced back only to 1897:
1897 Sears, Roebuck Catal. No. 104. 17/3 Fancy Crackers, Biscuits, Etc... Brownies, in 1 lb. papers.
1954 J. Steinbeck Sweet Thursday xii. 80 Do you like brownies?
1968 L. J. Braun Cat who turned on & Off (1969) x. 96 On her tray were chocolate brownies..frosted chocolate squares topped with walnut halves.
Cat who turned on & Off... is that about hash brownies? Here's the book. I don't think it is. But if you are interested in hash brownies, Wikipedia deals with that topic in the article "Cannabis edibles":
Modern interest in edible cannabis is credited to the publication of The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook. Toklas included a recipe for "Haschich Fudge" which was contributed by artist and friend Brion Gysin when it was published in 1954. Although it was omitted from the first American editions, Toklas' name and her "brownies" became synonymous with cannabis in the growing 1960s counterculture.
Hence the movie title "I Love You Alice B. Toklas." Highly recommended. That's the second time today I wrote an unintentional marijuana pun. And I am not looking for marijuana stories.



So 1968.

35 comments:

tcrosse said...

The Brownie Creation Myth I heard is that it was a chocolate cake that fell.

Chris White said...

Our local oldies radio station has been playing the song from this movie.
Also, I just realized, brownies are a " toke-less" way of using marijuana!

Laslo Spatula said...

It is best to wait for the Brownies to become Girl Scouts.

I am Laslo.

tcrosse said...

Now you can wait for the Cub Scouts to become Girl Scouts.

dda6ga dda6ga said...

Could not use that name today..racist...

Laslo Spatula said...

Sometimes I buy my Girl Scout cookies from the homeliest Girl Scout I can find, to make her feel better.

Not much sadder in this world than a Girl Scout with eyes way too close to each other.

I am Laslo.

Seeing Red said...

Brownies are white privilege.

whswhs said...

Personally I think the blondie was a happy invention.

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

Jiffy Mix. Slightly over-baked so it's crusty (but not bone dry) on the top. Sprinkle powdered sugar lightly. Watch Beau Geste in black-and-white on the tube in the basement on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Sacre Bleu! Zinderneuf! Now that's a brownie.

Mark said...

To look at the directions on a box of brownie mix, it would seem likely that the brownie was accidental (as many dishes/foods are). Someone was making a cake and put in too much oil or not enough eggs.

Again, the directions for brownies call for a lot of oil and very few eggs -- if you reduce the oil and add an egg, you get a cake-like "brownie."

buwaya said...

Beau Geste is interesting.
That show is an almost perfect mirror image of modern values.

I dont think its viewable by a modern youthful American audience. Too much culture shock.

The novels were even more so, as they had much more of the context that did not appear in the film.
It was a different world.

The actual French Foreign Legion was even more alien, a unique and very strange society that PC Wren substantially sanitized.

Mac McConnell said...

Boxed Brownie mixes are for losers.

Bad Lieutenant said...


whswhs said...
Personally I think the blondie was a happy invention.
8/5/17, 10:43 AM

quite true, I much prefer them.

But this prompts a thought. How is it possible that there is no baked good called "redheads"? Surely the most delicious of all sweets.

steve uhr said...

Pretty weird. We made home made brownies last night for the first time because we drank too much wine to go to the store for the box. Didn't know it was an option. Next thing you'll tell me is that one can make angel food cake from scratch.

Feste said...

~
Aye, buwaya - "Beau Geste is interesting. That show is an almost perfect mirror image of modern value!"

buwaya - that’s your quota of attention from me today. Still suffering from the old croc-roll trick that dragged me down to the bottom of the pool, sucking for air, after your Smoot-Hawley Tariif Act of 1930 and your sick “eight-digit Harmonized System (HS) level, also referred to as ‘tariff-lines.’” I didn't want to die: only a simple Pareto optimal, but you wouldn't leave good enough alone. I’m over-taxed.

Let's see if I can apply yesterday's lesson?

I say that we precociously impose tariffs on all California grown Nipton-pot and brownie mixes (since Nipton formerly served as a Spanish land-grant), and then heavy-tax those tariffed goods, and then currency manipulate (good answer on that one buwaya) California’s newest gold standard, then use the gains to provide universal health-care coverages - for endangered reptiles.

That work for you, you old croc?

Working on a new bill to outlaw all reptiles. Let smoking-cephalopods take over universally, loving global warming as they do (.. okay, I ran out of incoherence here and I'm not even smoking).

When Beau Geste dies, “There Will Be Blood” in those new California "pipe"-lines - or not?

Trouble me no more!

whswhs said...

Bad Lieutenant,

I've thought about that myself. It seems to me that the "redhead" would be a dense baked product with a top layer of something spicy. Perhaps cinnamon, which is one of the more widely used sweet spices.

jwl said...

I make delicious brownies using almond flour and three kinds of chocolate. Brownies can be fudge like, or cake like, and me family and I much prefer fudge version. It is to do with how much flour use in recipe - I use lot of butter, melted choc and eggs with just half cup of flour while cake like brownies have cup and half or two cups of flour.

Ray said...

Adding peanut butter to a brownie mix was very popular at my house. Amazing how fast that batch was eaten.

Ray said...

There was a brownie shop in Beverly Hills, closed. Amazing selection. It was on a chocolate tour I did. I believe they still have a location in Las Vegas.

gadfly said...

re you sure that is not a picture of German Lignite?

mockturtle said...

whswhs said...
Personally I think the blondie was a happy invention.

Is that the butterscotch brownie? Ooooh, those are good!

buwaya said...

These things will kill you faster than Spam.

Mr. Majestyk said...

Invention of the fudge brownie--that alone demonstrates the supremacy of American civilization.

Fabi said...

"Walk right in, it's around the back -- just a half a mile from the railroad track"

Ralph L said...

I'd swear that one of The Cat Who... series books was made into a movie, but Wiki doesn't say so. I must be thinking of Pyewacket from the movie Bell Book and Candle.
We had a very noisy Siamese cat for 15 years, so I read at least one of the original 3 books.

tcrosse said...

The actual French Foreign Legion was even more alien, a unique and very strange society that PC Wren substantially sanitized.

Would you even dream about messing with these guys ?
Légion Étrangère

Fred Drinkwater said...

Tcrosse,
First impression: slow guys in odd uniforms.
Second impression: a whole organization based on "I'm a F**k you up."

Roughcoat said...


Would you even dream about messing with these guys?

Only if you want to experience hell in a very small place.

buwaya said...

"Hell in a very small place" Bernard Fall
Available on the Althouse Amazon Portal!
Except no Kindle edition.
There is Audible, if you are into that,

Bernard Fall's "Street Without Joy" is however available on Kindle.

"The French Foreign Legion", Douglas Porch, is also on Kindle.
This is I suppose the current standard history in English. Its OK, but does not get deep into the more fascinating stuff.

"Our Friends Beneath the Sands", Martin Windrow, is better, as it deals with the more limited subject of the Legions' role in the French Colonial Wars - the real "Beau Geste", whether in the sands or the jungles. Its also got more of a je ne sais quoi.

And of course, PC Wren -
Just search on Amazon for "PC Wren" and "Beau Saga" and "Adventure Novels & Tales from the Foreign Legion" = each 99cents on Kindle.

Roughcoat said...

Don't forget Schoendoerffer's brilliant movie.

I believe that movie influenced Nolan, heavily. "Dunkirk" is, stylistically, quite similar to Schoendoerffer's movie, in several key respects.

Roughcoat said...

Both movies are especially alike in their very limited use of exposition. Both directors had the guts and the skills to let their stories tell themselves. No narration of the sort you get in Oliver Stone's awful movies. No Wehrmacht generals in spiffy uniforms prattling on about the fuehrer's failure to release the panzers. Schoendorffer and Nolan are accomlished storytellers not least because they respect their audiences, and treat their audiences as adults.

Roughcoat said...

The Legion is very French in its fascination with and tendency to celebrate, with elaborate ritual and elan, its heroic defeats. It is deeply in thrall to the last stand ethos. E.g., Camarón and the parading of Capt. Danjou's wooden hand; Dien Bien Phu and the demand to airdrop vino-gel so they could properly celebrate Camarón Day; the Battle of Bir Hacheim, holding Rommel's panzers at bay in the desert so the Commonwealth army could escape. And etc. Instances of profound Gallic romanticism, a defining cultural trait. I like it.

Roughcoat said...

And: "The 317th Platoon" ("La 317ème section"), also by Schoendoerffer, also in the lost patrol/last stand genre, a French patrol in Indochina is cut off behind enemy lines, struggling to make it home. The French love this shit. So do I.

Bob said...

Are we still allowed to say brownies?

Why? Brownies should go before Lynch, or Culpeppers statue.

Beldar said...

I saw that movie in 1968 as the first feature in a double with "Easy Rider," at a drive-in movie theater in Monahans, TX, with my Boy Scout troop, which was in a week-long campout at the nearby sand hills. (Ours may have been the troop that Trump was imagining when he said, "You're Boy Scouts, but you understand the world." We didn't, but we did want to watch R-rated movies with boobies.)