Excerpt from The Blond Leading the Blond:
The pantry held a treasure trove of snacks. My gaze flitted from cereal shelf to canned vegetables shelf to crunchy snacks shelf and then, lo and behold, a dessert shelf. Lined up in alphabetical order was the entire line of Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies: Double Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Mint,
and Raspberry. I gasped with the realization that Aunt Izzy was alive. Not “alive” in the physical sense, in that she’d been pirated away in the witness protection program somewhere, and another woman’s face had been beaten beyond recognition, or even the paranormal sense in that her spirit would be dragging chains down the stairs or moaning at all hours of the night. I meant alive in that she was not a glossy photograph but a real flesh-and-blood woman who had lived and breathed and loved and shared her DNA. With me. Orange
We had the same cookie-loving gene.
If you’ve read my cozy mystery, The Blond Leading the Blond, then you are aware of the strong “food” element of the book. The main character, Ellery, is always hungry and yet is often deprived of her daily nutritional requirements. The most common question I get from readers is, “Why so much food in the book?” I can only say that the majority of the book was written while my husband was deployed for six months and I was living alone so not cooking much and doing more snacking than regular meal eating, so I was probably always hungry. Besides, writers are told to appeal to all five senses when writing, and I was appealing to the most-often overlooked one, the sense of taste. (As an aside, Janet Evanovich in her Stephanie Plum series appeals to the sense of taste very well in her books. Anyone not get a hankerin’ for fried chicken after Stephanie and Lula swing by Cluck in a Bucket? She also hits the sense of touch too, because you can practically feel the grease running down your chin. But I digress.)
So today I thought a quick post about Ellery’s favorite snack, the Pepperidge Farm Milano cookie. As described on their own web page: “Ah, the classic Milano cookie. Simple. Elegant. The perfect balance of exquisite cookies and luxuriously rich dark chocolate—in irresistible varieties to match any mood.”
As described in my own (and hence, Ellery’s) words: YUM!
No surprise this upscale cookie is marketed towards an adult audience and not children, where the market is crowded with Oreos and Nutter Butters.
I figured they were named the Milano cookie because they were a favorite treat in the city of
Milan. But I figured wrong.
A little research found that the Milano Cookie was invented by Pepperidge Farm. It started out as a Naples cookie, which was a vanilla wafer cookie topped with a layer of chocolate. But when these cookies were stacked into those little white cupcake-type holders and shipped to warmer climates, the chocolate melted and the cookies stuck together. This is not a problem in my opinion, but some people really do prefer to eat one cookie at a time. So the top cookie inventors put their toques (tall white puffy chef's hats) together and came up with the brilliant idea to top the
Naples with another vanilla wafer and the Milano (a town not too far from Naples) cookie was born! The only thing I can’t find in my research was when! They seem to have been around for most of my adult life so I’m thinking maybe 25 years? Or maybe that's just when I graduated from Chips Ahoy! predilections. I don’t know for sure, but they have been around long enough to work their way into popular culture. A Google research turns up plenty of articles with plenty of pup-culture references. My favorite is:
In an episode ("The Trip") of Seinfeld, George and Jerry comment about Los Angeles Police officers eating Milanos instead of donuts.
Also found in my search are plenty of recipes on how to make your own Milano cookies. Only once you see the decadent ingredients you may not feel quite so friendly towards these delicious little things. The recipe that looks the easiest can be found here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/gale-gand/milan-cookies-recipe/index.html
But perhaps the most interesting thing discovered during my research was the craft projects inspired by Milano cookies, as in Milano Sheep (pictured at the top of this post.) Are they cute or what? I’m not sure if I would want to keep them on a shelf or eat them. Someday when I have absolutely nothing else to do, I might try making some Milano sheep and I'll be sure and update you on their fate. I'm sure I'll eat at least one...all in the name of research, of course. And do look for Milano Sheep to show up in a future Blonds at the Beach novel!
<< Not ever has one research project made me so hungry, so I’m off to the grocery store now. If you see me pushing the shopping cart down the cookie aisle, you might want to get out of my way 'cuz I'm a woman on a Milano Cookie mission.>>