06 Apr
Controversial Names for Vintage Recipes

I have changed the name of my husband’s favourite cookies since a British friend informed me that Nig Nog Cookies might be offensive. I was saddened to hear this and did some research. Nig nog is thought to be the shortened version of nigmenog, a late 17thcentury word meaning very silly person. The original word is not offensive and can still be found in British slang dictionaries. The problem is that over time, in Britain, the term nigmenog was shortened to nig nog and became an offensive name for a black person. 

My vintage cookbooks are filled with names like Rickety UncleJohnny CakeSpotted DickChunky MonkeyHoe Cakes, and Nig Nogs. One by one, as I adapt and share these recipes, I research the names and change them, if I discover they are controversial. 

At our house, the Nig Nog Cookie recipe has been infused with four generations of happy memories. For us, the term Nig Nog has a delightful sound and meaning. I am upset that words can be taken away from us because someone misused them. 

Nigmenogs, or silly people, come in all colours, and a plate of these cookies can make a fool of anyone. My husband, the boy from the Get a Bigger Wagon books, can scarcely stop eating them. In Australia, the word ning-nong is used to, affectionately, call someone a fool. I plan to have a little fun with this when next I make the boy’s favourite cookies. Who is the ning-nong in our house, I wonder? 

I first posted the recipe for Nig Nog Cookies, in June of 2013. One reader, from the USA, thanked me for posting it because she had misplaced the recipe that she had clipped from the San Francisco Harold forty-five years previous. My mother-in-law made this recipe almost 70 years ago. If you haven’t tried the recipe, you should know it falls into the “fast and simple” baking category. Melt butter in a pot with syrup, add some soda, then pour the warm liquid over the dry ingredients. Roll into balls, press flat, and place far apart, so they can melt and flatten even more. I imagine any nigmenog could make them. They deserve a better name than Crispy Caramel Oatmeal Cookies. They are buttery, paper thin, delights, which explode in your mouth. Click HERE to visit the recipe. 

NOTE: I am seriously considering renaming this recipe to Ning-Nong Cookies. What do you think? 

Comments (6)

  • Crystal Craig
    July 3, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    Maureen, I often thought about Matrimony Cake and how it got its name and the only thing I can think of is that it is full of dates!!

  • Sakina Madini
    April 26, 2018 at 01:12 pm

    I love those cookies with coffee. Oh Maureen I need to make it today! I can't wait! ?

  • Bev Gardner
    April 8, 2018 at 04:13 pm

    Ah, etymology....such fun! My first reaction was- keep the name, as the cookies won't be the same with another name. But then, I do remember telling my kids that the little candies were Licorice Babies, and the large nuts were Brazil nuts, and we all still call them that. But it's a reference to be taken as one wishes. And yes, bad Maureen, bad but hilarious that you brought up spotted dick. It's a pudding by the way- more chuckles, and then look up the etymology of dick?. Thanks, Maureen!?

  • Audra Balion
    April 7, 2018 at 10:42 am

    Keep the cute name with the silly meaning. Let the bad meaning be forgotten and die.

  • Gayle Senger
    April 6, 2018 at 02:05 pm

    I love those cookies whatever the name. Always great to hear from you. Hi to both of you!!!

  • Daphne Taras
    April 6, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    How about Ding Dong? As in the wicked witch is dead. I need to see the Spotted Dick cookie shape to determine whether it too is offensive. Bad, Maureen, bad.

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