Connecticut - The Constitution State
Updated: Sep 10
Alternate Nickname “The Nutmeg State”
Suggested Nickname “The WASP State”
Two Truths and a Lie
King C. Gillette, the razor mogul, designed and built a medieval castle on a hilltop in East Haddam. The 24-room stone structure is still standing and guided tours are available for $6 which is cheaper than any Gillette razor nowadays.
A devastating fire ran through New York City in December 1835. The president of the Hartford Insurance Company hopped in a sled and rolled into Manhattan to reassure policyholders that all their claims would be honored. Rapidly, New York’s insurance companies went bankrupt while Hartford’s companies gained public trust. Hartford became “The Insurance City” overnight.
Connecticut’s state song is “Yankee Doodle” even though the line “stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni” is an insult. It implies that Americans were uncultured rustics who thought one feather would be sufficient ornamentation to be considered a dandy at a time when fashionable European men wore massive wigs with tiny hats.
The Recipe - History's First Cookies
Connecticut claims to have the first written constitution of any democratic society. Colonists drafted and approved the Fundamental Orders in 1639 which set rules on how to conduct elections, gather taxes, and placed limits on governmental power. This document served as a model for the U.S. Constitution.
Connecticut can also claim to be the home of the world’s first cookie recipe. The Hartford publishing firm, Hudson & Goodwin, printed “American Cookery” by Amelia Simmons in 1796. This slim tome used the word “cookie” for the first time in print, you can see it here:
This recipe is a bit nonsensical to the modern cook. Old typefaces used a long “s” even though it looks nearly identical to an “f”. In 1796, the long “s” was already phased out at London’s best printing houses, but it held on for a few more decades in more provincial places.
Pearl ash is a household name for potassium carbonate which provided leavening before baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, replaced it. Also, the ratios seem preposterous. Most cookie recipes today call for 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat, and 1 part sugar by weight. Simmon’s recipe uses 10 parts flour, 1 part fat, and 4 parts sugar. Simmons doesn’t use the creaming method either; she boils sugar and pours it over the flour mix.
At first, this recipe seemed too weird, but after scrolling the internet I discovered two things. First, rubbing butter into flour before introducing liquids is called the reverse creaming method. It is gaining popularity because it reduces gluten formation and leads to more tender cakes and cookies. Secondly, A popular New Zealand cookie, Hokey Pokey Biscuits, calls for homemade caramel poured directly onto flour. What works for New Zealand should work for New England, so I went for it.
I made a few adjustments to the original recipe. I went past boiling and let the sugar caramelize for extra flavor. I used baking powder in place of pearl ash. Finally, I used a lot more butter than Simmon’s called for because I like my cookies very rich and not too sweet.
These were surprisingly good -- not amazing, cookie recipes have certainly improved in the past 225 years. I probably would have had an easier process and tastier outcome if I’d just made snickerdoodles, but I’m glad I tried this.
Want to experience Connecticut for yourself? Then Teresa recommends ...
I have not visited Connecticut, but I can recommend a lovely YA novel set there: “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” by Elizabeth George Speare
Time for the whole truth
Actor William Gillette designed and built the eponymous castle; it has nothing to do with the shaving company.
(By the way, you can click on any of the 2 truths and a lie statements to visit the source of the trivia)