Chocolate chip cookies are the most popular cookie recipe for a reason–they feel like home. Whenever I ask our oldest what kind of cookie he feels like, he always says “chocolate chip.” I make cookies every single week, sometimes multiple times a week if the batch was small.
Sometimes, you just want something a little different, but something that still feels familiar. Please meet this recipe for Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe
Graham crackers seem like a great all-purpose snack. Why not put them in a cookie? The result is the softness and flavor of your traditional chocolate chip cookie with something a little extra. Maybe a touch more chewiness. It is delicious.
If you store the cookies in a tin, as opposed to a plastic container, they will harden up on you. To prevent that, throw in a piece of bread. Otherwise, those hardened cookies are perfect for dipping into a cup of coffee. Now that’s good. It’s also probably my husband’s breakfast, if he can get away with it.
After all this graham cracker talk, I was curious. How were graham crackers invented? Who invented them? And why? The answer is absolutely shocking!
Brief History of the Graham Cracker
Graham crackers were invented by a man obsessed with self control: Sylvester Graham. You are seeing where the name “graham” cracker came from now, aren’t you? He was an 1800s Presbyterian minister with some pretty big ideas. He thought his flock needed to turn to a more plain, in-control way of life. Interestingly enough, his mission was to promote abstinence–and he was the seventeenth child of a minister.
He decided that a simple, chemical-free diet was the way to go. So, he developed a recipe for Graham bread in 1829 and published his recipe. You see, the bakeries of the day were adding alum and chlorine to bread in order to make it white. The fashion of the day was to ridicule the country brown bread and to purchase refine bread. Graham wasn’t having it. In that respect, he has a great point. However, that’s not all of it.
In his mind, vegetarianism was the cure-all for a variety of ailments–including alcoholism. At least, that’s what he thought. He pointed to meat, alcohol, even spices and seasoning, tea, coffee, condiments, and animal byproducts as lust-causing agents. In his effort to become more pure, he shrugged off them all. What’s more, he urged his followers, nicknamed Grahamites, to live a simple lifestyle, one which included more bathing (in cold water) and teeth brushing (not exactly a bad thing, and something that did supposedly contribute to our current bathing obsession), regular exercise, sleeping on hard mattresses with the window open (year round)–and abstinence. Yes, that kind of abstinence.
His bland diet, and the diet he proposed to others, largely consisted of graham bread, fruits, and vegetables. Unlike the graham cracker of today, the early form was unsweetened though it was cut into little squares, which explains how it shifted to the term “cracker.” Meals were sparse–and to be eaten only twice a day.
Think of it as less of a cookie and more of an actual cracker. Given his propensity to plainness and his position regarding spices and seasoning, and I believe it is fair to say it was probably similar in taste to a piece of cardboard. Kidding aside, Sylvester Graham generated a bit of a following.
Leaving the ministry to speak, he was mocked by the media and the general public and sometimes found it difficult to even find a place to present his ideas. His published works included titles like “The Young Man’s Guide to Chastity” and “Discourses on a Sober and Temperate Life,” a guide for how to live one hundred years.
The 1837 “A Treatise on Bread and Bread-Making” did not make him any friends at the bakery. Here’s an excerpt from his bread book:
It’s a 131 page booklet (with a large font) that very passionately denounces the evils of refined white bread. There’s even a part in the book where he shares a story of a woman who complains about the bread served in other houses and then he states that her bread was also poor quality and unhealthy and she didn’t know it. I wonder if she was still a Grahamite after reading that one? Graham flour was available for purchase–though Sylvester Graham never promoted it.
Male-only boarding houses for Grahamites appeared in Boston and New York. Remember the hard mattress, open window, and other Grahamite ideas? Yes, those were rigidly enforced at the boarding houses.
Oberlin College instituted his meal plan in the 1830s. If you remember, his diet ideas did not included seasonings, spices, or condiments. A professor was fired from the school for bringing in his own pepper shaker. It turns out, they were serious about the “no seasonings” rule. The students revolted and the plan was abandoned.
As time progressed, Sylvester Graham became more fanatic, so much more so that he began to scare away his followers. He died September 11, 1851. He didn’t exactly hit his one hundred years old goal. He was fifty-five. His movement largely died with him–but not entirely.
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg held onto his “Grahamite” status He instilled many of the methods in the Battle Creek Sanitarium where he worked, going to horrible extremes to prevent lust in his patients. In 1871, he developed what he termed “granola.” This led to the creation of cornflakes. Will Keith Kellogg, his brother, wanted to add sugar to them–something definitely not lining up with the Grahamite diet! Will formed his own company that eventually became known as the Kellogg Company.
Sylvester Graham thought he was on a mission from God and that, upon his death, his home would be made a shrine. Not quite. Instead, it is Sylvester’s Restaurant and, no, it is not vegetarian. Graham crackers? Well, those don’t exactly line up with his dietary ideals either.
Back to Cookies
These are really quite good and received a thumbs up from our kids and a good friend. Can you ever have too many variations of a classic recipe? I think not.
Use the search bar here on Little Indiana to find more excellent variations on the chocolate chip cookie theme. I know you will love them as we do.
Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe
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