Whatever You Call ‘Em, They’re GOOD!

Preacher cookies. Ever heard of them? Folks tend to disagree on what they’re called. They have a few different names depending on what part of the country you’re in.

Their history is interesting and everybody seems to agree on the genesis of the name. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version: Back in the day, tiny communities and off-the-beaten-path farms were visited by traveling preachers. When a housewife looked out her window and saw the preacher riding up the road on his horse, she would scurry into her kitchen and whip up a batch of these cookies. By the time the preacher arrived, the cookies were cooling. And before long they became known as “preacher cookies,” as well as everyone’s favorites.

But back to their name. “Preacher cookie” is the common term in the Appalachians. But the further west you go, you’ll hear them called “cow patties.” I suppose it’s apt, considering their looks and texture (they’ll squish under the least pressure).

And keep heading west and south to Texas and folks know them as “poodgies.” There’s no concrete explanation for this name, but drop it and people know exactly what you mean.

In the Midwest you’ll hear “1st Grader Cookies,” “Peanut Butter Delights,” “Boiled Cookies,” and “Chocolate Oaties.”

Lastly, travel to the great northwest and you’ll discover this cookie is called a “no-bake.” Maybe it was the Puritans or mathematicians that came up with this accurate (albeit unimaginative) title.

But whatever you call ‘em, one thing’s for sure. They’re GOOD! They’re also quick and easy to make, and they’re affordable. And one other thing that’s for sure: People really like them. I was so sure about this that when I was a college freshman and needed a demonstration for my final presentation in speech class, I chose to demonstrate how to make no-bake cookies (I’d been making them since I was 10 years old so this was a no-brainer).

Of course I made sure everyone had samples to munch on while I was going through the process and explanation. Needless to say, I received applause, rave reviews, and an A in the class!

I’m sure you have your own recipe for these, but if not, here’s a standard. It never fails; in fact, it’s hard to mess up.


½ cup butter

3 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1¾ cups sugar

3/4 cup milk

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 cups quick cooking oats

3/4 cup peanut butter

1½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Mix the cocoa powder, butter, sugar, milk, and salt in a double boiler (a regular pot works fine if you keep stirring).

  2. Bring ingredients to a rolling boil and boil for 1 minute.

  3. Remove from heat. Add the peanut butter, vanilla, and oatmeal (not the new, instant kind, just quick oats).

  4. Blend well.

  5. Drop large spoon-fuls onto a plate, wax, or parchment paper.

  6. Refrigerate at least 1 hour prior to serving (good luck with this; the hungering hordes know very well these are DELICIOUS even warm!).

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I end this no-bake (preacher cookies, or cow-pies, or poodgies) discussion with a few creative ways to take this special cookie to a whole new level. It’s such an easy recipe to fiddle with. You can add exotic ingredients such as Nutella® or shredded coconut to the pot, or you can stuff each dropped cookie with an almond, walnut, pecan, or what the heck, why not a square of caramel?

The recipe above (appropriately called “no-bakes,” thank you) was handed down from my mother, and I’m dying to hear about yours. Do you get creative with your recipe or are you a Puritan? And finally, what do you and your family call them?

  •   www.rivivalist.info
  •   www.teddyray.com
  •   www.mycatholickitchen.com
  •   www.westland.net
  •   www.travelandleisure.com
  •   www.thestayathomechef.com

    Alice Osborne
    DVO Newsletter Contributor since 2006
    Email the author! alice@dvo.com

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