Who Invented the Brownie?

The invention of culinary dishes can be complicated, and the brownie is no exception. In my search for the best vegan brownie, which is now Jillian Bakes' signature treat, I thought about how the brownie came to be. So I, like some of my baking compadres, decided to find out.

Some myths state that a chef accidentally added melted chocolate to some biscuits, or was making cake but didn’t have enough flour; still others say that a housewife in Bangor, Maine, forgot to add baking powder to her chocolate cake. But most evidence points to one source: Chefs at Chicago’s Palmer House Hotel, who created the tasty treat for the World Columbian Exposition of 1893.

Interestingly, the origin story goes something like this: Bertha Palmer, the wife of Palmer hotel owner Potter Palmer, was president of the Ladies Board for Managers for Exposition. When organizers of the event asked her to create a dessert especially for the boxed lunches at the Women’s Pavilion, Palmer went to her hotel’s pastry chefs and gave them the task of creating a dessert that was easier to eat than a piece of pie and smaller than a layer cake that could easily be served in boxed lunches. The result was a brownie made with double the chocolate normal brownies use, walnuts, and an apricot glaze that’s still made at the hotel to this day! Who knew the brownie had its start in the late 1800's as a boxed lunch item?

We like this brownie beginning as it bodes well for our delicious brownie as part of your lunch box goodies!