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

Good Question

Published at |Updated at

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 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.

What is another name for a snickerdoodle cookie? ›

Snickerdoodles are often referred to as "sugar cookies".

What is the history of the snickerdoodle cookie? ›

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 is an interesting fact 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.

Why are snickerdoodles so good? ›

Tangy Flavor: Cream of tartar contributes a subtle, tangy flavor to the cookies. This tangy note helps balance the sweetness of the cookie dough and enhances the overall flavor profile of snickerdoodles. It gives the cookies a unique taste that sets them apart from other cinnamon-sugar-coated cookies.

What is the slang word for cookies? ›

(slang, drugs) A piece of crack cocaine, larger than a rock, and often in the shape of a cookie. (informal, in the plural) One's eaten food (e.g. lunch, etc.), especially one's stomach contents. I lost my cookies after that roller coaster ride. I feel sick, like I'm about to toss my cookies.

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)...

Is there a snickerdoodle Oreo? ›

Snickerdoodle Oreo

The cinnamon isn't too strong or overpowering, but it's there, and the sugar crystals in the creme center are slightly crunchy just like a snickerdoodle. They've also got this subtle tart flavor, too, almost like a carrot cake. The Snickerdoodle Oreo is so damn good!

What are the oldest cookies in the world? ›

Pizzelles, the oldest known waffle cookies, originated in Italy. The name pizzelle is based on the Italian word 'pizze' meaning round and flat, with the ending 'elle' referring to its small size.

What does snickerdoodle flavor taste like? ›

It's a slightly spicier take on the classic, plain sugar cookie, perfect for cold weather but enjoyable at any time of year. If you're a fan of the warm, cinnamon-sugar flavor combination in the form of cinnamon buns or cinnamon toast (or even Cinnamon Toast Crunch), you're probably going to love snickerdoodle cookies.

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

Snickerdoodle cookies have a unique flavor profile due to the addition of cream of tartar and cinnamon, which gives them a slightly tangy and spicy taste. In contrast, sugar cookies have a more neutral, buttery flavor with a hint of vanilla.

Why is it called Snickers? ›

At the time, the couple had been planning to create a new candy bar and put it in production as a nameless bar — that is, until one of their favorite horses named Snickers died. So, to honor the horse, Ethel and Frank gave the “no-name” bar the name Snickers.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Last Updated:

Views: 6038

Rating: 5 / 5 (70 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Birthday: 1998-01-29

Address: Apt. 611 3357 Yong Plain, West Audra, IL 70053

Phone: +5819954278378

Job: Construction Director

Hobby: Embroidery, Creative writing, Shopping, Driving, Stand-up comedy, Coffee roasting, Scrapbooking

Introduction: My name is Dr. Pierre Goyette, I am a enchanting, powerful, jolly, rich, graceful, colorful, zany person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.