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If you’ve noticed something making the rounds again on Facebook that looks familiar, yet delicious, you aren’t alone.

In 1996, what could possibly be the first “viral” story made the rounds via email (oh, the days before social media!): The infamous “Neiman-Marcus Cookie Recipe” was sent and forwarded by everyone probably before “spam” was even a term (“cookie” was already taken).

If you don’t remember the email, or the story, or you haven’t seen it pop into your newsfeed yet, Snopes.com recounts it like this:

My daughter & I had just finished a salad at Neiman-Marcus Cafe in Dallas & decided to have a small dessert. Because our family are such cookie lovers, we decided to try the “Neiman-Marcus Cookie”. It was so excellent that I asked if they would give me the recipe and they said with a small frown, “I’m afraid not.” Well, I said, would you let me buy the recipe? With a cute smile, she said, “Yes.” I asked how much, and she responded, “Two fifty.” I said with approval, just add it to my tab.

Thirty days later, I received my VISA statement from Neiman-Marcus and it was $285.00. I looked again and I remembered I had only spent $9.95 for two salads and about $20.00 for a scarf. As I glanced at the bottom of the statement, it said, “Cookie Recipe – $250.00.” Boy, was I upset!! I called Neiman’s Accounting Dept. and told them the waitress said it was “two fifty,” and I did not realize she meant $250.00 for a cookie recipe. I asked them to take back the recipe and reduce my bill and they said they were sorry, but because all the recipes were this expensive so not just everyone could duplicate any of our bakery recipes….the bill would stand. I waited, thinking of how I could get even or even try and get any of my money back.

I just said, “Okay, you folks got my $250.00 and now I’m going to have $250.00 worth of fun.” I told her that I was going to see to it that every cookie lover will have a $250.00 cookie recipe from Neiman-Marcus for nothing. She replied, “I wish you wouldn’t do this.” I said, “I’m sorry but this is the only way I feel I could get even,” and I will.

So, here it is, and please pass it to someone else or run a few copies…. I paid for it; now you can have it for free. (Recipe may be halved):

2 cups butter
4 cups flour
2 tsp. soda
2 cups sugar
5 cups blended oatmeal**
24 oz. chocolate chips
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 8 oz. Hershey Bar (grated)
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)
2 tsp. vanilla

Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey Bar and nuts. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 112 cookies.

** measure oatmeal and blend in a blender to a fine powder.

Now, 20 years later, the story is popping up on Facebook newsfeeds, altered slightly, with the opening “over the holidays, my daughter & I…” proving everything old is new again.

Unfortunately, now as it was then, it’s not true. Neiman-Marcus doesn’t sell its recipes, and in fact,  the store created a cookie after this story originally circulated to capitalize on the popularity.

Snopes’ Barbara Mikkelson details out the history of these kinds of posts/emails/urban legends: “As to why this legend has taken on a life of its own despite persistent and detailed debunkings, it’s a classic David and Goliath story. It is, after all, the little guy smacking the big, heartless corporation a swift one right across the nose, something many people have often longed to do.”

Whatever. It’s still an excellent cookie recipe, and you can make it without fear of being charged $250.00. Zap2it promises.