Good Question: Why do we call them snickerdoodles? - East Idaho News (2024)

Good Question

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Robert Patten,

This week’s question came from co-workers, who marveled at the delicious cracked, cinnamon-flavored goodness I was eating. Where does the word “snickerdoodle” come from, anyway?

My first — very uneducated — guess was it had a common origin with another sweet treat — Snickers, a candy bar I adore.

Snickerdoodles vs. sugar cookies

“While snickerdoodles and sugar cookies share a lot of basic ingredients (flour, sugar, butter), there is one key ingredient that’s critical to the signature snickerdoodle taste: cream of tartar. You might think this sounds like an odd thing to put in your dessert, but it’s the age-old secret to those snickerdoodle cookies you love so much.

“There are two things that can be attributed to the cream of tartar in snickerdoodles: the signature “tang,” and the perfect chewiness. These characteristics are due specifically to the chemical makeup of the cream of tartar, which prevents the cookie from developing a sugar-crystal-induced crunch that sugar cookies have, instead giving it a soft and pillowy texture.”

The Huffington Post

(Side note: My little brother and I got in huge trouble when we were young kids after we stole Snickers and Milky Ways from my diabetic grandmother and ate them in her bathroom. We learned a big lesson that day: Never dispose of the evidence — wrappers — in your victim’s wastebasket.)

My guess was was wrong. Snickers, you see, were named after a horse. Fortunately, they lack that equine flavor.

But what of snickerdoodles?

According to the Joy of Baking:

“Snickerdoodles, also called snipdoodles or cinnamon sugar cookies, have been around since the late 1800s. They probably originated in New England and are either of German or Dutch descent. Unfortunately there is no clue as to how they got such a peculiar name.”

I couldn’t find anything by looking up the etymology (origin of the word) either. The Online Etymology Dictionary didn’t even bother with an entry and the Oxford English Dictionary only left me with crumbs.
The dictionary suggested the word could be a compound of “snicker” (“a smothered laugh; a snigg*r”) and “doodle” (“a silly or foolish fellow; a noodle”) which left me more confused than before.

I had more luck with the Joy of Cooking cookbook, which, while not a definitive answer, presents another possibility:

“A New England favorite, these large, crinkly-topped sugar cookies are probably German in origin. Their name may be a corruption of the German word ‘Schneckennudeln,’ which translates roughly as ‘crinkly noodles.'”

I don’t get it. They don’t even look close to noodles, unless you think ravioli are noodles. But that’s the best answer I could find.

More than cookies

While most people don’t know where the word comes from, it doesn’t stop them from slapping it onto other things that don’t taste as good:

Good Question: Why do we call them snickerdoodles? - East Idaho News (3)

But the instant you bite into a snickerdoodle, none of this matters. I like the description of the cookie I found on a blog:

“Good snickerdoodles are light and pillowy, with a sweet tangy overall flavor, and a glistening cinnamon crust. They are easy to make, require few ingredients, and require no chilling time in the fridge. Plus kids have fun rolling them into balls and coating them in cinnamon sugar. What’s not to love?”

Snickerdoodle recipes abound online. Just enter “snickerdoodle” into Google, and you’ll see more recipes than you’ll ever have time to make. My wife makes great snickerdoodles from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook — all you need is butter, sugar, baking soda cream of tartar, an egg, vanilla, flour, cinnamon and an appetite.

If you think you have the best (or even a decent) snickerdoodle recipe, please bring a plate of the heavenly cookies by our office at 400 West Sunnyside in Idaho Falls, and we will eat them gone.

Do you have a Good Question about anything? Send it to Robert! Email him at, visit him on Twitter @notthegeneral or message him through’s Facebook page.


Good Question: Why do we call them snickerdoodles? - East Idaho News (2024)


Good Question: Why do we call them snickerdoodles? - East Idaho News? ›

“A New England favorite, these large, crinkly-topped sugar cookies are probably German in origin. Their name may be a corruption of the German word 'Schneckennudeln,' which translates roughly as 'crinkly noodles. '

Why do they call them snickerdoodles? ›

The Joy of Cooking claims that “snickerdoodle” comes from “Schneckennudel,” a German word that literally means “snail noodles.” Schneckennudels don't have anything to do with snails or noodles, though—they're actually delicious-looking German cinnamon rolls.

What does "snickerdoodle" mean in slang? ›

The Oxford English Dictionary Describes the etymology as “uncertain." They suggest it is perhaps a combination of the words snicker, a smothered laugh, and doodle, a silly or foolish fellow.

Who named the snickerdoodle? ›

A few cookbooks explain that snickerdoodles are German in origin. They state that the cookie's name comes from the German word shneckennudel (which is a kind of cinnamon bun). Others trace its origin to New England's tradition of whimsical cookie names.

What are some interesting facts about snickerdoodles? ›

The Joy of Cooking claims that snickerdoodles are probably German in origin, and that the name is a corruption of the German word , a Palatine variety of schnecken. It is also possible that the name is simply a nonsense word with no particular meaning, originating from a New England tradition of whimsical cookie names.

What is the meaning of snickerdoodle? ›

ˈsni-kər-ˌdü-dᵊl. plural snickerdoodles. : a cookie that is made with usually butter, sugar, and flour and that is rolled in cinnamon sugar before baking.

Why do snickerdoodles call for cream of tartar? ›

Cream of tartar is an acidic by-product of fermenting grapes into wine. Bakers primarily use it to stabilize meringues and whipped creams, and to make traditional cookie recipes like snickerdoodles. Although not many recipes call for cream of tartar, it's worth keeping around because it lasts forever.

What does cookie mean from a guy? ›

informal. dear; sweetheart (a term of address, usually connoting affection)

What is slang for toss my cookies? ›

But to toss your cookies isn't an invitation to share baked treats, but an idiom meaning “be sick” – known in Australia as “go for the big spit”.

What does dirty dawg mean? ›

a person who is deemed to be despicable or contemptible. synonyms: bum, crumb, git, lowlife, puke, rat, rotter, skunk, so-and-so, stinker, stinkpot. type of: disagreeable person, unpleasant person.

What does snickerdoodle translate to? ›

The Oxford English Dictionary claims the word's origin is "uncertain", and possibly a portmanteau of the word snicker, an "imitative" English word with Scottish roots that indicates a "smothered laugh", and doodle, a German loanword into English meaning a "simple or foolish fellow", originally derived from the Low ...

What is a substitute for cream of tartar in snickerdoodles? ›

You can either replace cream of tartar with baking powder at a 1:1.5 ratio (1 teaspoon cream of tartar : 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder), or you can replace cream of tartar with the combination of baking soda and either lemon juice or vinegar (as with this recipe).

Why do snickerdoodles crack? ›

Almost all recipes call for a combination of cream of tartar and baking soda (an acid and a base); the idea is that when they bake the reaction of these two ingredients will cause the cookies to puff up and then collapse, creating those cinnamon-y cracks on top.

Do snickerdoodles go bad? ›

Yes they do have an expiration date printed on the box. I buy a dozen boxes each December to last the year which is when the expiration date is on mine.

Why do snickerdoodles get hard? ›

Snickerdoodles might turn out hard if they are overbaked or if the dough is too dry. Be sure to keep an eye on them as they bake – when the edges are set but the centers are still soft and puffy, they are done. Also, make sure you're not adding too much flour.

What is the difference between a snickerdoodle and a cookie? ›

Snickerdoodles are often referred to as "sugar cookies". However, traditional sugar cookies are often rolled in white sugar whereas snickerdoodles are rolled in a mixture of white sugar and cinnamon. Cream of tartar is added for its signature texture as another main difference.

Why are Snickers called Snickers? ›

History. In 1930, Mars introduced Snickers, named after the favorite horse of the Mars family. The Snickers chocolate bar consists of nougat, peanuts, and caramel with a chocolate coating.

What were cookies originally called? ›

"Early English and Dutch immigrants first introduced the cookie to America in the 1600s. While the English primarily referred to cookies as small cakes, seed biscuits, or tea cakes, or by specific names, such as jumbal or macaroon, the Dutch called the koekjes, a diminutive of koek (cake)...

What mascot is the snickerdoodle? ›

Snickerdoodle is a mascot of the Saints in the Saints Row reboot.

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