Bangor Brownies (1905)
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Sun Nov 13 16:24:02 UTC 2005
I just had a brownie this weekend. Here goes. The Boston Globe has it, but I
expected even better in my searches.
According to baking folk lore, the first brownie ever baked was made in
Bangor, Maine! In the early 1900's a Bangor housewife was baking a chocolate cake
and it fell. Instead of disposing of the cake, the frugal baker cut the
collapsed cake into squares and served it to her guests. Needless to say, it was
well received and brownies have been enjoyed all over the world ever since.
We are happy to share our version of "The Original Brownie" of Bangor, Maine
with you today. Enjoy!
(PROQUESTG HISTORICAL NEWSPAPERS)
_HOUSEHOLD DEPARTMENT.; True and Tried Recipes, Fancy Work and Cooking for
the Season--Talks With Housekeepers About Economy--Talks With Mothers About
Children--Correspondence on All Topics of Home Interest. DAILY HINTS FOR EVERY
HOUSEKEEPER BREAKFAST DINNER SUPPER ORANGE MERINGUE PIE Read Carefully.
IPSWICH PIE. PORK PUDDING. CREAM OF PEA SOUP. ENTIRE WHEAT RECIPES. BROWN BREAD
COFEE. OATMEAL SHORT CAKE. SMART CHILDREN. SEVERAL HOT-CAKE RECIPES. CELERY,
APPLE AND NUT SALAD. AUNT ELLA'S DOUGHNUTS. BANGOR BROWNIES. PINEAPPLE CREAM.
OMELET WITH PEAS. PEANUT SOUP. COCOA. PRUNE RECIPES. SALLY LUNN. BAKED EGGS
AND BACON. PINEAPPLE OMELET. OUR INVALIDS' CORNER. CROCHETED PURSE. TWO LAST
YEAR'S SUMMER GOWNS REMODELED FOR SPRING. CROCHETED TURNOVER COLLAR. DAINTY
SUMMER COLLARS. TALKS WITH MOTHERS. DRESSING AND DISCIPLINE. JUST TALKING IT
Boston. Apr 2, 1905. p. 34 (2 pages)
Cream 1/2 cup butter, add 2 eggs, 1 cup sugar, 2 squares of chocolate
(melted), 1/2 cup broken walnuts meats, 1/2 cup flour. Spread thin in buttered
pans. Bake in moderate oven, and cut before cold.
I have never made these myself, but have eaten them many times made by a
_Brownies He Has Known_
JAMES BEARD. Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: May
30, 1974. p. G8 (1 page):
Recently, ever since someone asked me what I know about the history of
brownies, I've been delving into their lore, and I've discovered some fascinating
sidelights. Consulting my collection of old cookbooks, I found that the first
brownie recipes seem to have come from two sections of New England--Boston
and Bangor, Me.--and the little cakes were often known as Boston brownies or
Bangor brownies. The first brownie recipes appear to have been published
around 1907, in "The Lowney Cookbook" (at that time, Lowney's sold some of the
best chocolate in America). One was for Bangor brownies, another for Lowney's
brownies, a rather different recipe.
The indefatigable Fanny Farmer had an even earlier recipe, in 1896, but hers
were not what we would consider brownies, for they were made with butter,
powdered sugar, molasses, egg, flour and pecan meats and no chocolate, and
cooked in fancy little pans with a pecan atop each one. That was a far cry from
the Boston, Bangor or Lowney's brownies. Just for the fun of it, I'm going to
give you a couple of those original old recipes.
Brownies & _blondies_ (http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodfaq.html#blondies)
Very few foods are "invented." They evolve over time according to product
availability and local taste. Recipes for all sorts of chocolate cakes, cookies,
frostings, and candy (esp. fudge) proliferated during the last quarter of
the 19th century and beginning of the 20th. This was due, in a part, to
chocolate manufacturers who agressively marketed their products to the American
public. Mass production meant chocolate was no longer a food of the rich. It
could be enjoyed by everybody. Company cookbooks, promotions, and advertisements
give us our glimpse of where the idea for brownies might have originated.
Food historians have several theories about the history & origin of
"Chocolate, made from native American cocoa beans, was first consumed as a
bitter beverage like coffee, soon afterwards sweetened with sugar, which itself
was very expensive until the mid-18th century. By 1780 John Hanan had opened
the first chocolate factory under the financing of Dr. James Baker (therein
the origin of "Baker's Chocolate," a product still made by General Mills,
Inc.). Cocoa powder didn't come along until 1828, and the first chocolate bar,
made by the Cadbury Company of England, didn't came along until 1842.
Chocolate cakes, therefore, were a rarity, and it was most probably an American baker
who baked the first of them, and the brownie, which would be made with
unsweetened or dark chocolate, was among the first. Its texture, somewhat chewy
rather than cake-like, gives the brownie its appeal, and there are those who
prefer it more like fudge than cake, which further sets it apart from
traditional cakes. Last but not least, brownies should not be tall, but only an inch
or so high, which also increases their density of texture and flavor."
---"Brownies Are Back," John Mariani, Restaurant Hospitality, Feb 99, (p.
"Brownie...the name comes from the deep brown color of the confection, and it
has been an American favorite since the nineteenth century first appearing
in print in 1906 in the "Boston Cooking-School Cook Book," (Earlier references
to "brownies" include Sears, Roebuck Catalog for 1897, although the
reference is to mail order chocolate candies named after cartoon elves created by
author Palmer Cox in a series that began with "The Brownies: Their Book" ,
and in the 1896 edition of the "Boston Cooking-School Cook Book" for a
browned molasses confection containing no chocolate.)"
---The Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink, John F. Mariani
[Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p.44)
"The two earliest recipes I could find for chocolate brownies appear in the
1906 edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (with 2 squares Baker's
Chocolate, melted) and in Lowney's Cook Book, written by Maria Willet Howard
and published by the Walter M. Lowney Company of Boston in 1907...A note in
Betty Crocker's Baking Classics (1979) says that Bangor Brownies are probably
the original chocolate brownies. Legend has it that a Bangor, Maine, housewife
was baking chocolate cake one day and it fell. Instead of pitching it out,
this frugal cook cut the collapsed cake into bars and served it, apparently
with high marks. Was that the beginning of brownies as we know them today? New
York food historian Meryle Evans doubts it, believing this story, like so
many others, to be apocryphal. Some say brownies were invented by a woman named
Brownie. Others that brownies are an Americanization of Scottish cocoa
scones...The real story isn't known...Whatever their true origin, brownies didn't
become popular until the 1920's."
---The American Century Cookbook, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York]
1997 (p. 492)
"The original brownies had no leavening, except for an egg or two, and little
flour, but were so rich with butter and melted chocolate that they baked up
softer than other cookies...Fannie Merrit Farmer's first brownie recipe,
published in 1896, produced a confection that was colored and flavored with
molasses. Each brownie had a nut placed at its center. All early brownies
contained chopped nuts as well...The first chocolate brownie recipe was...published
by Fannie Farmer in her 1905 revision of the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book.
The proportions are similar to her 1896 chocolate cookie recipe, except that
she radically reduced the amount of the flour. In the chocolate recipe she
specified a "7-inch square pan."...[Maria Willett] Howard, who had been
trained by Fannie Farmer, was then employed by the Walter Lowney chocolate company.
She enriched Farmer's chocolate brownie recipe with an extra egg, creating
Lowney's Brownies. She then varied the recipe by adding an extra square of
chocolate and named the Bangor Brownies. This last recipe apparently started the
idea that brownies were invented by housewives in Bangor, Maine. The leading
advocate of the Bangor theory of brownie origin was Mildred Brown Schrumpf,
aptly nicknamed "Brownie," born in Bangor in 1903. Unfortunately, Mrs.
Schrumpf's best piece of evidence was a Girl's Welfare Cook Book published there in
1912. This is not only seven years post-Farmer, but the recipe contributed
by Marion Oliver for Chocolate Brownies to that cookbook is almost exactly the
same as the two-egg recipe for Lowney's Brownies, not Bangor Brownies.
Oliver also contributed a recipe for Molasses Brownies evidently taken from the
Farmer cookbook...Maria Howard may have considered the Bangor Brownies, which
were to be baked in a cake pan (unlike her Lowney's Brownies), to be descended
from a recipe for Bangor Cake in Maria Parloa's Appledore Cook Book (1872),
which was a white sheet cake...In fact, the two-egg Lowney's Brownies was the
recipe most often reprinted in new England community cookbooks before 1912."
---The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith
editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 136-7)
Who was Mildred Brown Schrumpf?
_"Mildred Brown Schrumpf_
(http://www.uma.maine.edu/libraries/MWHOF_Website/alibmbschrumpf.html) --Orono, Maine As Home Economist, "Good Samaritan,"
Nutritionist, Newspaper Columnist, Food Judge, Author and Cook, Mildred "Brownie"
Schrumpf can truly be called "First Cook" of the State of Maine. " (no
mention of chocolate brownies)
Early Brownie recipes:
(http://digital.lib.msu.edu/projects/cookbooks/coldfusion/display.cfm?ID=bost&PageNum=455) , Fannie Merritt Farmer (molasses, not
 "Lowney's Brownies
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 squares Lowney's Premium Chocolate
1/2 cup nut meats
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cream butter, add remaining ingredients, sperad on buttered sheets, and bake
ten to fifteen minutes. Cut in squares as soon as taken from oven."
---Lowney's Cook Book Illustrated, Maria Willett Howard, Revised Edition
[Walter M. Lowney Co.:Boston] 1912 (p. 278)
 "Bangor Brownies"
1/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
3 squares chocolate
1/2 to 3/4 cup flour
1 cup nut meats
1/4 teaspoon salt
Put all ingredients in bowl and beat until well mixed. Spread evenly in
buttered baking pan. Bake and cut in strips."
---ibid (p. 273)
[NOTE: The Lowney company was manufacturer of chocolate and cocoa. They
published many books and brochures to promote their products to the public.]
_Brownies_ (http://www.bartleby.com/87/0030.html) , Boston Cooking School
Cook Book, Fannie Merritt Farmer  (scroll down towards the bottom of the
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