Is This Your City's Weird Holiday Cookie Craving?
Sugar cookies are, by far, America's most popular cookie during the holidays. But Allrecipes search data shows that some cookies are disproportionately more popular in certain cities. From ears in Portland, to locks in Pittsburgh, to clothespins in Cleveland, here are the Christmas cookie cravings that are unique to folks in these major U.S. metropolitan areas.* Did the data tell the right story for your city?
Atlanta — Pecan Chewies
Atlanta's favorite Christmas cookie is the Pecan Chewie. No wonder, as the hub of the pecan-loving South, Atlanta goes all in for these sweet, chewy pecan treats. Another reason to love ‘em: they take 10 minutes to prep, and are ready in 35 minutes!
Boston — Whoopie Pies
Is it pie, cookie, or cake? It's all three at once. And Bostonians' favorite Christmas cookie. It originated in Massachusetts—although don't try telling that to a Mainer. In fact, it's a favorite all throughout New England.
Chicago — Kolacky
The Kolacky is a jam-filled cookie that arrived with Czech, Slovak, and Polish immigrants. In Central Europe, it was traditionally a wedding dessert. Today, it's the #1 Christmas cookie in the Windy City. But the Kolacky Capital of the World? That's Montgomery, Minnesota -- home of Kolacky Days.
Cleveland — Clothespin Cookies
Cleveland wins laundry day! These ingenious, cream-filled cookies really are made with clothes pins. Strips of puff pastry are wrapped around the pins and baked. Then the hollow spaces are filled with cream. They're Cleveland's favorite Christmas cookie.
Dallas — Tea Cakes! (see Houston)
Denver — Cherry Chip Cookies
Colorado's unpredictable weather keeps it from being a top cherry growing region but its inhabitants still adore cherries and cherry-flavored everything at ice cream parlors, pie shops, and bakeries, especially the Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies at King Soopers supermarkets. Cherry Chip Cookies topped a list that includes high-altitude versions of other Christmas favorites.
Detroit — Church Windows
Search data tells us that these simple chocolate cookies with rainbow mini marshmallow "stained glass" are extremely popular in Detroit and nearby cities. But when we called the local library, they'd never heard of them—and neither had two longtime writers for the Detroit Free Press. We double-checked the data. So what's going on? Is it a new tradition? A newly-popular retro throwback? Or what?
Houston — Tea Cakes
It seems just about everyone's mom, aunt, grandmother, or great-grandmother in this part of the world passed down a tea cake recipe or served them at special occasions. These tender cookies are said to hail from the teatime traditions of European immigrants to Texas. Now, they come in every flavor imaginable.
Indianapolis — Mexican Wedding Cakes
They resemble snowballs. They melt in your mouth. They travel well. And Mexican Wedding Cakes (or Russian Teacakes, or Polvorones, depending where you grew up) are a favorite at bakeries here and a standard in Christmas cookie tins and trays baked by multitudes of parishes and church groups.
Kansas City — Cherry Mash Bars
This recipe comes awfully close to replicating the beloved Cherry Mash sold by Chase Candy Company, a family-run joint in St. Joseph, Missouri that dates back to 1876. The candy—cherry fondant coated in chopped roasted peanuts and chocolate—debuted in 1918 and became the best-selling cherry candy bar in the country.
Los Angeles — Persimmon Cookies (see San Francisco).
Miami's Cuban heritage is evident in their fondness for these treats—essentially, puff pastry filled with sweetened coconut.
Minneapolis — Nut Goodie Bars
Based in St. Paul, Minnesota, the The Pearson Candy Company has been making the Nut Goodie for over 100 years. Home cooks in Minneapolis are searching for more of a 'goodie' thing in bar form. We don't have an exact recipe match, but here's a pretty close one from Pillsbury.
NYC — Linzer Tarts
New York City is awash in great bakeries, many of which are known for their Linzer Tart cookies. Always up for a challenge, New Yorkers are on a quest to best the bakeries by making these jam-filled cookies at home.
Philadelphia — Irish Potatoes
Irish Potatoes have been satisfying Philadelphian sweet tooths for over a century. In years past, these handmade treats were stuffed with the occasional penny—if you bit into one with a penny, you were assured good luck. What kid wouldn't love a sweet treat followed by a trip to a turn-of-the-century dentist?
Phoenix — Biscochitos
These crispy anise-flavored cookies dusted with cinnamon sugar have centuries-old roots in Spanish colonial cooking, and remain traditional to this day in Hispanic communities throughout the Southwestern states. At weddings, baptisms, and especially Christmas parties, you're likely to be served biscochitos, or bizcochitos, to be dunked into coffee or wine.
Pittsburgh — Lady Locks
When Italian and Eastern European immigrants settled in steel-mill towns like Pittsburgh, they brought their cookie recipes, including these buttercream-filled pastry confections. Formed by wrapping dough around dowels or wooden clothespins, Lady Locks, aka Clothespin Cookies or Cream Horns, are baked by the hundreds for big events like weddings and Christmas.
Portland — Elephant Ears
A must-eat at Portland's Saturday Market, these flattened and fried dough discs have been popularized by a food cart called--surprise--Portland's Original Elephant Ears. For a true Rose City experience, you can top yours with cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, fruit preserves, lemon honey, chocolate, or maple glaze and sea salt.
Photo by 5Foot3
Raleigh — Moravian Spice Cookies
Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice flavor these ultra-thin, crispy cookies. Why these spices? Look to North Carolina's early immigrants from Central Europe and the food traditions they brought to Colonial America. But because spices at the time were costly and rare, these cookies were made for special occasions only.
San Francisco — Persimmon Cookies
California's Central Valley boasts a huge persimmon crop, and it's ready right before the holidays, making this a great choice for California bakers looking for a fresh flavor in their cookie trays.
Seattle — Nanaimo Bars
Blame Starbucks (who sells them worldwide), or their neighbors to the north in British Columbia (Where the actual Nanaimo is located), but this sweet, chocolaty bar cookie is a Seattle fave for some obviously sweet reasons.
Photo by Golightly
St. Louis — Gooey Butter Cookies
Tradition says these cookies started at a St. Louis bakery as an accident: an erstwhile baker flipped the measurements of sugar and butter...or butter and flour—legends are slippery like that.
Tampa — Key Lime Cookies
Where else can you imagine Key Limes flourishing? When Key Lime trees are as common as they are in Florida, it's bound to be a popular cookie.
*Selections based on data showing which cookie recipes on Allrecipes are searched for at disproportionately higher rate in the city named during the holidays.
Check out our collection of Christmas Cookie Recipes.