A friend at my church surprised me the other day with some old recipes. They looked as if they had been a magazine inserted into a newspaper but the photos looked more like those I’ve seen in my Mother’s Betty Crocker Cookbook. They reminded me of the 1950s. So of course, I loved it.

One insert seemed to be of casseroles and such while the other featured cookies. The cookies cookbook said it came from the Good Housekeeping Institute and noted that the makers of New Spry received special permission from Good Housekeeping to reproduce the booklet and were recommending the use of New Spry in all the recipes made with shortening. According to a Internet search, Spry was a brand of vegetable shortening that was produced by the Lever Brothers starting in 1936. It was competition for Crisco, which many of us are familiar with today. I guess that tells which one won out in the end. While it had been in the lead, according to Internet accounts, Spry phased out its marketing campaign in the 1950s that had included “Aunt Jenny.”

As I carefully turned the pages several in the cookie book, several recipe names caught my attention because I had never heard of the cookies before – Shrewsbury Drops, Southern Sour-Cream Jumbles, and Almond Wine Biscuits. The Real Orange Cookies made me wonder if there were Fake Orange Cookies.

Dad would be happy to know that there were recipes for Mincemeat Cookies that were described as rich and chewy, like fruitcake. There were also Mincemeat Refrigerator Cookies but neither were the type of mincemeat cookies Dad requests at Christmas. These seemed to mix the mincemeat right into the dough rather than place it in the center to make a filled cookie.

The Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies actually called for a white cake mix. I’m not so sure what was old-fashioned about that. Nor do I ever remember decorating a sugar cookie with raisins or candied cherries or chopped nuts prior to baking. We might have used raisins on the gingerbread men before baking to make buttons or eyes but sugar cookies were either sprinkled with a colored sugar before baking or were decorated with icing afterwards.

As I moved further into the booklet, page by page I came across a section called “Cookies around the world.” It listed such finds as Hang-Yen-Bang (Chinese Almond favorite), Mexican Wedding Cakes, Viennese Specials (Linzer), Fattigmand or fried cookies from Norway, Spitzbuben (cookie sandwiches), Petticoat Tails (from the shortbread clan), Springerle (German cookies with pictures on them), Ragalach (cream-cheese pastry from Hungary), English Teacakes, Swedish Spice Cookies and Swedish Nut Crescents as well as two French cookies – French Tules and French Almond Meringues. I could just imagine a plate of these international goodies to share with guests during a special occasion or holiday.

I think I’d like to try the Real Orange Cookies to see if they are like the orange cookies I remember eating as a child.

The recipe says “you can add coconut or nuts.” I’m not sure why it has that next to the recipe name when it lists both in the ingredients’ list.

The recipe is:

Real Orange Cookies

Time: 10-12 minutes

Yield: Four dozen

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 cup soft shortening

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tbsp. grated orange rind

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or shredded coconut

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Mix shortening with sugar, eggs and orange rind. Mix in flour mixture alternately with orange juice; then mix in nuts.

Drop by teaspoonfuls, two inches apart, onto a greased cookie sheet.

Bake until golden.

Frost with orange or chocolate butter icing.

While I had never heard of Spry Vegetable Shortening, I wonder if these cookies will be just as good with Crisco. I’d have to say yes, from reading the ingredients’ list.

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