Peanut butter – a household favorite since the early 1900’s. And the history of peanut butter cookies starts around the same time, with the first recipe made public around 1916. Since they have been made, there has always been a unique feature about this particular cookie. That feature is the fork hash marks impressed in the top of the cookie. The question is though, why are they there? Several reasons are speculated for these delicious peanut butter cookies to have these hash marks, but the most common reasons known is pure baking tradition, to help the cookies bake more evenly, and as a warning sign for people with peanut allergies.
The first time that these fork marks were widely instructed to be placed on the cookie tops was in a recipe from a 1936 Pillsbury cookbook. There was no explanation given in the recipe as to why the fork hash marks were called for, but people made them anyways. Now, most people who bake these cookies put the hash marks on them out of pure tradition without knowing why they are even doing it. Maybe it’s because it’s simply more fun to make old fashioned peanut butter cookies!
Probably the most common reason specified for the marks on the cookies is because it’s supposed to help them cook more evenly. When peanut butter is added to cookie dough it makes it denser, which in turn makes it harder to bake through. Putting the hash marks in the cookie dough balls actually flattens them for more even baking. When the cookies bake, they should come out soft with crispy edges where the hash marks have been formed. Most people agree that the best peanut butter cookies are the ones with a soft center and crispy edge.
Although most people love these little desserts, those who are allergic to peanuts cannot eat them. However, because their color, shape, and texture causes them to look like other cookies, they can be easily confused and accidentally eaten by someone with an allergy. Therefore, this cookie was thought to have been given fork marks to warn people who are sensitive to nuts what they are about to eat. Since the marks are such a unique cookie feature, it is a great reminder of the ingredients.
If you’re unsure of what these fork marks look like, try looking up peanut butter cookies online. Or if you simply want to feast on these delicious, traditional treats, try Mrs. Fields peanut butter cookies. If peanut butter just doesn’t suit your taste, then stick with the traditional chocolate chip cookie, brownie or slice of cake!