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Good Question: Why do we call them snickerdoodles?

Good Question

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Snickerdoodles fill me with joy and calories. | Stephan Rockefeller, EastIdahoNews.com

This week’s question came from co-workers, who marveled at the delicious cracked, cinnamon-flavored goodness I was eating. Where does the word “snickerdoodle” come from, anyway?

My first — very uneducated — guess was it had a common origin with another sweet treat — Snickers, a candy bar I adore.

(Side note: My little brother and I got in huge trouble when we were young kids after we stole Snickers and Milky Ways from my diabetic grandmother and ate them in her bathroom. We learned a big lesson that day: Never dispose of the evidence — wrappers — in your victim’s wastebasket.)

My guess was was wrong. Snickers, you see, were named after a horse. Fortunately, they lack that equine flavor.

But what of snickerdoodles?

According to the Joy of Baking:

“Snickerdoodles, also called snipdoodles or cinnamon sugar cookies, have been around since the late 1800s. They probably originated in New England and are either of German or Dutch descent. Unfortunately there is no clue as to how they got such a peculiar name.”

I couldn’t find anything by looking up the etymology (origin of the word) either. The Online Etymology Dictionary didn’t even bother with an entry and the Oxford English Dictionary only left me with crumbs.
The dictionary suggested the word could be a compound of “snicker” (“a smothered laugh; a snigger”) and “doodle” (“a silly or foolish fellow; a noodle”) which left me more confused than before.

I had more luck with the Joy of Cooking cookbook, which, while not a definitive answer, presents another possibility:

“A New England favorite, these large, crinkly-topped sugar cookies are probably German in origin. Their name may be a corruption of the German word ‘Schneckennudeln,’ which translates roughly as ‘crinkly noodles.'”

I don’t get it. They don’t even look close to noodles, unless you think ravioli are noodles. But that’s the best answer I could find.

More than cookies

While most people don’t know where the word comes from, it doesn’t stop them from slapping it onto other things that don’t taste as good:

But the instant you bite into a snickerdoodle, none of this matters. I like the description of the cookie I found on a blog:

“Good snickerdoodles are light and pillowy, with a sweet tangy overall flavor, and a glistening cinnamon crust. They are easy to make, require few ingredients, and require no chilling time in the fridge. Plus kids have fun rolling them into balls and coating them in cinnamon sugar. What’s not to love?”

Snickerdoodle recipes abound online. Just enter “snickerdoodle” into Google, and you’ll see more recipes than you’ll ever have time to make. My wife makes great snickerdoodles from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook — all you need is butter, sugar, baking soda cream of tartar, an egg, vanilla, flour, cinnamon and an appetite.

If you think you have the best (or even a decent) snickerdoodle recipe, please bring a plate of the heavenly cookies by our office at 400 West Sunnyside in Idaho Falls, and we will eat them gone.

Do you have a Good Question about anything? Send it to Robert! Email him at questions@eastidahonews.com, visit him on Twitter @notthegeneral or message him through EastIdahoNews.com’s Facebook page.

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