Dietribes: Brownies


• By the beginning of the 20th century, chocolate (and tasty treats) were no longer just for the rich. The more aggressive promotion of chocolate to all Americans as well as lowered manufacturing costs were reflected in cookbooks and advertisements of the time, and of course the name "brownie" was directly related to its rich, deep brown color. Brownies came into their own as that special pastry that (because of more butter and chocolate with less flour) was denser than cake, but also softer than most cookies. Yum!

• Making brownies for friends (or co-workers!) will undoubtedly earn you Brownie Points (that being a term, originating somewhere in the 1950s, referencing credit for an achievement, or favor, typically for servile behavior -- or so says the OED). The connection to Girl Scout Brownies seems clear, as the term originated from school slang and is usually capitalized.
• Since its general inception in the early 1900s, the recipe for brownies really hasn't changed much. Still, according to NPR, the Pentagon has somehow managed to create a 26-page brownie recipe. How? Take Section 3.2.6 of the recipe, for example, which covers eggs. It reads, in part, "Whole eggs may be liquid or frozen and shall have been processed and labeled in accordance with the Regulations Governing the Inspection of Eggs and Egg Products (7 CFR Part 59)."

• Of course, there are a variety of ways to prepare brownies, such as 3,000 pound mega-sized ones, or perhaps brownies that all have at least one edge. And the very special "I baked this while burglarizing a home!" brownie.

• There are also plenty of way to incorporate brownies into your daily life - chapstick, shampoo, or even a husband.

• For those unfamiliar with the mention of Girl Scout Brownies (not to be confused with, you know, the cookies), Brownies are a level of Girl Scouts for younger girls (typically grades 2-3). The uniforms have always been, unsurprisingly, brown ... until 2003 when the look seems to have gotten completely revamped. (I was a Brownie! Any other former or current Girl Scouts out there?)

• Aside from little girls, Brownies can also reference little hobgoblins that, according to English and Scottish lore, are sprightly creatures that help around the house. This Brownie usage was picked up by the Cleveland Browns, who had an elf mascot from around 1946-1960, until owner Art Modell phased it out.

• Another kid-brownie note: The Kodak Brownie, released in 1900, was a camera marketed towards children that cost merely one dollar. Most historians agree it was with this model that photography became democratized, and was the most popular Kodak camera (at the time) since the company was founded.

• But back to the sweets - I love brownies and can't get enough of them! Any special way you guys make your brownies? Or what's the best instant mix (of course, scratch is always the very best!)

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‘Dietribes’ appears every other Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach. You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.