• Tokey' s Treats LLC

Celebrating the brownie and the little people.

Oeey, Gewy delicious chewy chocolate brownies are always a great treat. Do you know the story behind the brownie? I am sure you will be just as surprised as I was to learn that this yummy treat is rooted in the celebration of art and Christopher Columbus. Crazy combination but continue reading to learn more.

This story begins with a woman named Bertha Palmer and Chef Joseph Sehl. She was a high-class socialite in Chicago, and chef Sehl was a German immigrant who worked his way to head pastry chef for Bertha's husband, the owner of the Palmer House hotel. The chef was not known for his fancy french cuisine like many of Bertha's socialite friends were used to, and instead, he was used to cooking American comfort food.

In 1893 Bertha and a few of her socialite friends were headed to the Chicago Worlds Columbian Exposition. This was the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus "discovering" the new world, and the celebration brought artists from all over the world.

This colossal fair grew to nearly 731,000 people, becoming the world record for attendees at a fair. The fair opened on May 1st - October 30th, 1893. Many other states were interested in having this fair, but Chicago won. This was a great way to show that Chicago could rebuild after the Great Chicago Fire, which destroyed the city in 1871.

You can imagine how excited Bertha and her friends were to get to go to the most incredible art fair in the world. Bertha went to her husband (remember he owned the hotel) and asked him to ask Chef Sehl to create a dessert that she and the other woman could put in their lunch boxes to take with them. She wanted him to create something smaller than a cake that would not be messy to eat. Mr. Palmer went to his pastry chef, and Chef Sehl made the original brownie. This first brownie was topped with walnuts and apricot glaze. The woman brought these new treats to the fair, and they were a huge hit. Like so huge that in 1896 it was found in the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Farmer. Farmer left out the most crucial ingredient in brownies. At least, I think so. She didn't add chocolate to her brownies. In 1906, what we now know as brownies were found in several cookbooks.

I don't know about you, but I had no idea that brownies started as a snack for wealthy socialites going to an art fair. Also, I'm sure many people wouldn't be surprised an immigrant created it, especially if you have worked in the kitchen before. The part that blew my mind was that I had to research for several days before finding the immigrant chef that created the treat. Most information states that Bertha and her husband made the dessert.

So why did I choose to tell this story about the brownie? I guess because the story intrigued me. It made me think about how many things we eat that have exciting beginnings. It also made me think about how many creations were invented by chefs (little people) but were claimed to be developed by a socialite ( the man in charge).

Tonight I enjoy a nice warm brownie with my almond milk. With every bite, I show gratitude, not to the wealthy socialites but the little people. The chefs, sous chefs, cooks, dishwashers, bussers, waitresses, and other staff are a part of creating something delicious because all of us who have worked in the kitchen know that a dish is made by many hands..... even if your purpose is only the taster.

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