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Q: Origin of the name "snickerdoodle" ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Origin of the name "snickerdoodle"
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: leonardjk-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 28 Jan 2003 10:20 PST
Expires: 27 Feb 2003 10:20 PST
Question ID: 149571
I want to know the origin of the cookie, and more particulcarly of the
name itself: Snickerdoodle. I already know that, according to

"Originating in 19th-century New England, this whimsically named
cookie has a characteristically crackly surface and can be either
crisp or soft. The dough sometimes contains nutmeg and cinnamon as
well as raisins and nuts. Traditionally, snickerdoodles are sprinkled
with cinnamon sugar before being baked. The name appears to have no
particular meaning or purpose . . . other than fun."

I am looking for older or more definitive information.
Subject: Re: Origin of the name "snickerdoodle"
Answered By: leli-ga on 28 Jan 2003 12:36 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Thank-you for an interesting question which I enjoyed researching.

At first it was hard to get past the many sites which repeat the
information you found but eventually I found good evidence that
snickerdoodles have a German heritage. Once I found them described as
Dutch but I think that must be a misconception based on the name
"Dutch" being applied to many people of German or "Deutsch" origin.

A good start is this article from the "Columbia Missourian":

" Most of the sources I found traced snickerdoodles back to colonial
America, though the cookie, from the Dutch "keokje" meaning "little
cake," didn't really become a popular treat until about a century ago.
The snickerdoodle, a simple cinnamon-spiced cookie, was an early entry
into the American cookie spectrum, along with such treats as jumbles,
plunkets and cry babies. The names, according to most sources I read,
were merely whimsical.
"The Joy of Cooking" offered etymology tracing the snickerdoodle back
to the German word "schneckennudeln," which means "crinkly noodles."
This, I'm afraid to say, wasn't very helpful.
But "schnecke" means "snail" in German, and could be the root of the
mysterious snickerdoodle. According to an almost 30-year-old kid's
book procured for me by my librarian friend called "Slumps, Grunts and
Snickerdoodles: What Colonial American Ate and Why" by Lila Perl, a
"shnecke" was also a German name for a cinnamon pinwheel that
resembles snails. Makes more sense than "crinkly noodle," at least. "

"Christmas cookies to search for"

After reading this, I wanted to take it further and looked for some
German information about Schneckennudeln. On one German website I did
find the word used for pasta, but it was snail-shaped pasta and not
'crinkly noodles'. However, it is certainly the name of a yeast-raised
sweet cake. I found several recipes for sugary Schneckennudeln,
including one with chocolate, nuts and vanilla. Even better -  I found
a picture of some baked into a 'snail' shape on this recipe page:


There is also confirmation of the idea that New England cooks liked
"whimsical" names for cookies. That could be a nice 'extra'
explanation of the name's development from Schneckennudeln to

"Nineteenth century New England cooks had other interesting names for
old-time family treasure... Jolly Boys, Tangle Breeches and

".....cookies did not become popular until about a hundred years ago.
In earlier American cookbooks, cookies were given no space of their
own but were listed at the end of the cake chapter. They were called
by such names as "jumbles," "Plunkets," and "Cry Babies." The names
were extremely puzzling and whimsical. New England cooks seem to have
had a penchant for giving odd names to their dishes, apparently for no
other reason than the fun of saying them. Snickerdoodles comes from a
tradition of this sort that includes Graham Jakes, Jolly Boys,
Branble, Tangle Breeches, and Kinkawoodles."


This is the book giving the German snail cake etymology:
"Slumps, Grunts, and Snickerdoodles: What Colonial America Ate and
Why", by Lila Perl Yerkow

Snickerdoodles described as "German recipe"

"The Germans make the most incredible cookies. So, it's no wonder that
the German immigrants known as the Pennsylvania Dutch would continue
the tradition of yummy cookies in America."

"family recipes of German Snickerdoodles"

German recipes: 
with sugar
with chocolate, nuts and vanilla

I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you need any further
assistance with this by using the 'request clarification' option.

Regards - Leli

search terms
snickerdoodles origin name etymology
schnecke schneckennudeln german dutch
leonardjk-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

Thanks for your answer. After posting the question I also found the
first article you cited, but I was delighted to see that you dug much
further. Many thanks.

There are no comments at this time.

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