Rich, buttery and only 5 cents each, Chicago Public Schools’ iconic butter cookies done lunchtime all a merrier from a 1960s and by a ’80s. These classical shortbread cookies, pulpy with 3 fingers for good magnitude and baked to toasty perfection, once graced cafeteria trays opposite a city.
“They were a comprehensive best,” says Gwendolyn Streak, who has worked in CPS lunchrooms for some-more than 19 years and now manages operations during Schurz High School in Old Irving Park. “Once we saw a lunch ladies portion adult cookies in a cafeteria … it was strictly a good day.”
Made from scratch, with lots of butter and lots of sugar, they’re not on a menu anymore, given their fat and sugarine calm wouldn’t accommodate today’s nourishment standards.
“But we still make them each once in a while, to share among a cafeteria staff,” Streak says.
Their origins are murky, and Chicago Public Schools has no record of where or when a cookies done their debut, though according to alumni lore, they popped adult in a 1960s during both facile and high schools via Chicago. The strange recipe calls for only 4 mixture — butter, sugar, vanilla remove and flour — though during some point, a peanut butter chronicle seemed on a cafeteria scene.
In after years, a made-from-scratch cookies were transposed by mass-produced, finished goods. Today, a CPS Local School Wellness Policy clearly states, “No dessert-like equipment shall be served as partial of any propagandize meal,” creation CPS cookies cafeteria contraband.
Yet dual area entrepreneurs, Cheryl Crockett of Crockett Cookies and Diane Devroe of Lady Di’s Bakery, have capitalized on a honeyed nostalgia of CPS cookies.
Crockett was operative in a corporate universe when a college crony common her recipe for a cafeteria classic. “I blending a recipe, anticipating to re-create a happy school-day memories these cookies inspired, and brought some to a family get-together. From that day forward, we couldn’t attend a family entertainment but a collection of my cookies.”
A lightbulb went off, and Crockett began baking adult lunchroom-style cookies in her possess kitchen, afterwards changed on to Kitchen Chicago, a common kitchen space in West Town, as direct fast grew. Today she operates Crockett Cookies out of a 4,000-square-foot trickery of her really possess on a Near West Side, delivering her cherished cookies — accessible in both strange butter and peanut butter — to some-more than 100 Walgreens and Whole Foods locations opposite a city and suburbs.
Crockett, who grew adult on a South Side, fondly remembers a lunchroom provide from her possess propagandize days. “I done a indicate to say a impress of 3 fingers, that ups a nostalgia factor,” she explains. “People punch into my cookies and are ecstatic behind to their facile propagandize cafeterias. we frequently accept emails from business thanking me for holding them behind to a untroubled days of childhood.”
Diane Devroe, owners of Lady Di’s Bakery, recalls anticipating and praying daily as a small lady that a buttery cookies would be on a cafeteria menu of her school, John Fiske Elementary in Woodlawn. As an adult, her play on a childhood favorite paid off in a large way. She invested her life’s assets — $10,000 — on a down remuneration for a bakery, bartering with a prior owners to concede her to compensate a remaining change in monthly installments, and non-stop her dream, Lady Di’s Bakery, in 1998, with only $2.40 left in her bank account.
Today she distributes some-more than 20,000 containers each 3 days to restaurants, gas stations and welfare stores in Chicago and beyond. “I wanted to give behind that ambience of childhood,” she explained. She non-stop a doors to her Ashburn bakery (4356 W. Ford City Drive; 773-885-4817) to a open after neighbors complained that a honeyed smell of creatively baked cookies was tantalizing them daily. Devroe also sells her lunchroom-style cookies online during ladydisbaker.corecommerce.com.
Success didn’t come easy for Devroe, who pulled 18- to 20-hour days in a early years, while also lifting 3 kids as a singular mom.
“I spent a lot of time great and praying. we was always a hands-on parent, and we felt guilty that we was investing so most of my time in a business. we cried so tough we cruise my tears fell into my cookies and imparted them with emotion, like a film “Like Water for Chocolate.” But notwithstanding all, God kept revelation me to keep on going. And so we did.”
Devroe’s work ethic built her business — now in a 20th year — and was upheld on to her 3 kids, now entrepreneurial adults with children of their own. “My kids are overworked and still really tighten to one other. And my grandkids are now my central ambience testers!”
Lady Di’s CPS-style butter cookies are accessible in 3 shades: light (super soothing and only hardly baked), center and dim (extra toasted). “Everyone has their shade preference,” explained Devroe. “I have business that transport distant and far-reaching only to get a reason of my dim cookies.”
You can emanate a memories during home. The pivotal to memorable CPS cookies is to use top-notch mixture — don’t even cruise substituting margarine for butter. Make your symbol by regulating your 3 center fingers to kindly press a cookies down onto a ungreased cookie sheets before baking, only as a cafeteria bakers used to do. Follow Lady Di’s lead, and bake a cookies according to your preferred shade: 2 mins some-more for an even toastier, crunchier cookie; 2 mins reduction for a softer, chewier cookie.
Amy Bizzarri is a freelance writer.
CPS-style butter cookies
Prep: 20 minutes
Chill: 4 hours
Bake: 12-15 minutes
Makes: 30 cookies
Developed by Amy Bizzarri from normal recipes. Everyone has their personal shade welfare for a cafeteria classics: bake 2 mins some-more for an even toastier, crunchier cookie; 2 mins reduction for a softer, chewier cookie.
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 crater sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter and sugarine together with an electric mixer on center speed until fluffy, 5 minutes. Mix in salt and vanilla. Reduce speed to low; supplement flour in batches, blending until good combined.
2 Roll mix into a 12-inch log; hang with cosmetic wrap. Chill during slightest 4 hours.
3 Cut record into 1/4-inch slices; use 3 fingers to kindly press a cookies down onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake until edges are golden, 12-15 minutes.