What Your Favorite Holiday Cookie Says About Your Work Personality
Yep … we’re pretty much completing the “Food Trifecta” in our blog series. After discussing your favorite donut and then your favorite Halloween candy earlier this year, we’ll end the year with what your favorite holiday cookie says about your personality at work.
Which is your favorite holiday cookie?
History: Sure, I could have said “Gingerbread Men,” but I believe in equal opportunity deliciousness. Anyway, gingerbread dates back to 15th century Germany when traders brought back ginger root from Asia. The first recorded instance of human-shaped gingerbread biscuits was in the 16th century court of Elizabeth I, the namesake of the “Elizabethan Age.” She had her bakers make gingerbread figures resembling her party guests. Channeling her infamous father, King Henry VIII, Elizabeth was the first person to bite the heads off her cookies first and exclaim, “Off with their heads!”
At work: If you love biting the heads off gingerbread people, chances are you’re a frustrated mid-level manager with a difficult staff. Or, you could work in HR and be suffering from work-related PTSD. Either way, on the outside you are cheerful and love helping others. On the inside, you have issues. (Munch, munch, munch …)
History: The ancestor of what we think of as sugar cookies is found in the sugar cakes of Medieval Arab cuisine that became popular throughout Europe. American-style sugar cookies date back to the mid-1700s when German Protestant immigrants settled around Nazareth, Pennsylvania.
At work: You’re the office mom who makes sure that everyone has fun at the holidays and doesn’t feel left out. You love decorating these plain cookies and turning them into something that would make Martha Stewart envious. You still own the set of metal cookie cutters that your great-great-grandmother brought over from the Old Country because using those modern plastic cutters eats away at your soul. Everyone knows by your Christmas cat sweaters you wear from Thanksgiving on that you are the proud caretaker of a dozen or more cats.
Peanut (Butter) Blossoms
History: Mrs. Freda Smith of Gibsonburg, Ohio, created “Peanut Blossoms” for the ninth Grand National Pillsbury Bake-Off competition in 1957. Legend has it that she was going to make peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, but when the time came, she discovered that she didn’t have any chips. She found some Hershey’s Kisses on hand and pressed one into each peanut butter cookie and hoped for the best. So just like penicillin, this classic holiday cookie was born accidentally.
Unfortunately, her peanut blossoms failed to clinch the grand prize. Since then, however, they show up on pretty much every holiday cookie plate known to mankind and are now commonly called peanut butter blossoms. The winner that beat Freda’s ubiquitous blossom? Gerda Roderer’s “accordion treats,” which is basically butter, sugar, flour and vanilla baked in pleated aluminum foil so it comes out looking like an accordion. Let me know if anyone brings accordion treats to your house this season. I demand a recount for Freda. Another fun fact … Gerda won $45,000 for her accordion recipe which translates to $393,639 in 2017. No wonder Freda got mad.
At work: If the blossom is your favorite, you’re a child at heart … and in body. You’re a new manager who hasn’t become grizzled and bitter yet. You value your staff because most of them are older than you and give off a sibling vibe. It’s tough for you to criticize your older employees because it feels like you’re yelling at your mom or dad. Enjoy your blossom years because soon you’ll become a snickerdoodle person and all will fear your wrath. But that’s for later …
History: Basically a buttery cookie hybrid that you shoot out of a cookie press; this is the favorite cookie of gun enthusiasts. The history of spritz cookies has a bit of mystery as Germany (I’m sensing a pattern here with German bakers) and Scandinavia both claim to have created the cookie. Germany wanted to have a fight about it, but Scandinavian bakers chose to remain neutral. (Acka, acka, acka …)
At work: Spritz cookie lovers are the dreamers of the office because spritz cookies can take on multiple shapes depending on the pattern of the disk you attach to the end of the press. Ironically, most press owners lose all the disks except for the Christmas tree pattern so that’s why you only see spritz cookies at Christmas. And while spritz lovers are dreamers, they’re also the laziest people in the office because—let’s be honest—five-year-olds can make spritz cookies if someone gets the hot baking sheet out of the oven for them. You’re unfulfilled in your professional life.
History: Once again, our friends from Germany take credit for first making snickerdoodles, whose name is a corruption of the German word, Schneckennudel (“snail noodles”). Others believe snickerdoodles came from the New England area just after the American Civil War because the whimsical, nonsensical name is reminiscent of many NE dishes. I say the Germans are owning this cookie thing, so let’s give it to us Yanks.
At work: Nobody messes with the snickerdoodle person. You can be sweet most of the time, but like that cinnamon spice that covers this cookie, you can snap at a moment’s notice. Snickerdudes are into sports and will talk for hours in their cubicles about their fantasy football team. Snickerdames, on the other hand, are the power players in the office. Don’t mess with Marlene in Marketing because she will mess you up if you cross her.
History: Shortbread originated in Scotland, with the first printed recipe in 1736 from a Scotswoman named Mrs. McLintock. Shortbread is widely associated with Christmas and Hogmanay festivities in Scotland. Like my ancestral lands that created them, shortbreads are tasteless, hardscrabble and tough. And in a pinch, can be weaponized due to their hardness.
At work: If you’re a guy, you eat lunch alone pretty much every day because there’s something like a time bomb ticking inside you that scares most people away. During meetings, you’re the one always looking for conflict and you relish the thought of a fight. If you’re a woman, you’re probably British and carry an assortment of tea bags with you because you’d rather die than drink Lipton tea. Unlike your male counterpart, you are civilized, but just a teensy bit snobby and your favorite movie is “Braveheart.”
Russian Tea Cakes/Mexican Wedding Cakes
History: No one is exactly sure why these white drops of heaven are called Russian tea cakes because there’s no definitive connection to Russia. Cookie historians think it might be because a version of the cookie was often served beside Russian samovars (tea urns) and the name just morphed from there. However, the Mexican version is believed to have originated when Eastern European nuns brought their shortbread cookie recipes over in the 1800s. Of course, like everything edible, Mexico made it better.
At work: You are the office workhorse, getting things done and always ready for your next project. You love tea cakes because they’re small, portable and you can pop the whole thing in your mouth on the run and not get a speck of powdered sugar on your shirt as you rush off to your next meeting. Your co-workers adore you and your elderly bosses describe you as a “real up-and-comer” even though you’re 44 years old.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
History: Not even 100 years old yet, chocolate chip cookies are the most popular cookie in the United States. While not thought of as a holiday cookie, pretty much every “Most Popular Holiday Cookie” list I read had chocolate chip cookies on them. The chocolate chip cookie was invented by the American chef Ruth Graves Wakefield in 1938. She invented the recipe during the period when she owned the Toll House Inn, in Whitman, Massachusetts.
At work: Let’s be honest … if chocolate chip cookies are your favorite holiday cookie, there’s a 98.9 percent chance you’re a guy. You have three outfits you wear to work and you mix-and-match each piece of clothing four or five times before you wash them. You abhor change and you’ll work for your current employer until the ambulance comes and takes your cold, lifeless body out of your desk chair. You’re the guy we read about who dies but nobody from the office figures it out until a few days later.
Plus, two bonus holiday treats that aren’t cookies!
History: Fudge is 100 percent American and was invented in 1886. It was the result of a messed-up batch of caramel in which the confectioner reportedly exclaimed “Oh, fudge!” Hence, the name. Lucky it didn’t happen today because it would be called “Oh #$!%” and, there’s no way you could give that to your grandparents as a present. Seriously … “Here Grandpa, have some ‘#$!%’!”
At work: The simple fact that you answer fudge when people ask you what your favorite holiday COOKIE is shows your contempt for societal rules. However, you’re a sweet talker and people like you despite your obvious flaw. You’re in sales and that probably needs no more explanation than that.
History: The earliest fruitcake recipes came from Ancient Rome. Therefore, since Rome dominated most of the world at the time, the recipe changed with each culture that came into contact with it. American fruit cakes are packed with fruits and nuts. If you ate my grandmother’s recipe, it was also packed with brandy. Lots and lots of brandy. One of my jobs with her as a kid was to soak the linen coverings with brandy every day. Probably why I was in AA at the age of seven.
When a fruit cake contains a lot of alcohol, it can remain edible for many years. Morgan Ford, of Tecumsah, Michigan kept a fruit cake baked in 1878 as a family heirloom. Jay Leno even sampled the cake in 2003 on The Tonight Show. A 106-year-old fruitcake discovered in 2017 by the Antarctic Heritage Trust was described as being in ‟excellent condition” and ‟almost” edible. For many people, it’s not just the 100-year old cake that’s almost edible. The ones made last week are, as well.
At work: My coworker, Elizabeth C., summed up fruitcake lovers succinctly: “You thrive on disappointment.”
Have a great and safe holiday, everyone!