1. CHOCOLATE CHIPS WERE INVENTED AFTER THE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE.
It’s true the cookie preceded the chips. Chocolate chips were created in response to the cookie’s popularity, rather than the cookie being designed as a vehicle for the chips. The first chocolate chip cookies were actually made by mistake. As the story goes, baker Ruth Wakefield tried to add chopped chocolate to cookie dough in hopes that it would be a shortcut to making a type of chocolate cookie, melting as the cookies baked. Well, the chocolate didn’t melt all the way, but those melty bits of chocolate studded in the cookies were good enough to be declared a new classic. The popularity of this happy accident would spur the production of easy-to-use chocolate chips a few years later, which turned out to have many more uses than just making chocolate chip cookies.
2. CREAM OF TARTAR IS A BYPRODUCT OF WINEMAKING.
The next time you say “cheers,” add a small “thank you” to your wine for producing the cream of tartar that makes your meringues so lofty and your snicker doodles so tender. Cream of tartar is formed from the sediment left over in barrels after the winemaking process. Once formed, it’s scraped off of the sides of the barrels and then cleaned and ground to form cream of tartar. It’s actually been stated that cream of tartar residue has been found in pottery dating back 7,000 years!
3. CROISSANTS WEREN’T CREATED IN FRANCE.
Could there possibly be a French-ier thing than a flaky, buttery croissant? Despite these buttery delights’ association with France, they are actually an Austrian creation. Croissants were preceded by something called “kipferl,” which is a dowdier; simpler version of the croissant developed in Austria. It’s said that the concept was taken to France by a man named August Zang, who founded a Viennese bakery in France. He introduced yeast into the butter pastry, and the method quickly took off — the French croissant as we know it was born.
4. GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH GERMANY.
The “German” of German chocolate cake fame was actually a man named Samuel German, who was an employee of an American chocolate company. German didn’t invent the cake, but he is the one who developed German’s sweet baking chocolate, which is a key ingredient in the cake. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the story, though, is that the chocolate was developed nearly 100 years before the cake began to gain popularity. The cake was first dubbed “German’s chocolate cake,” but it was eventually shortened to “German chocolate cake.” This means that Samuel German died long before he got to taste the now-famous cake that bears his name.
5. BAKED ALASKA WAS CREATED IN NEW YORK CITY.
What we commonly call “Baked Alaska” was dubbed as such by the famous Delmonico’s in New York City in 1876 to celebrate Alaska’s annexation. The restaurant didn’t invent Restaurant Baked Alaska, though. The dessert was developed by an eccentric fellow who went by “Count Rumford” (whose real name was Benjamin Thompson and who was a physicist and rumored spy). As he was experimenting with dessert techniques, Count Rumford realized that while pastries would conduct the heat and protect a cold core, a layer of meringue would do so to an even greater degree. He created a dessert that was called either “omelet surprise” or “omelet à la norvégienne,” which translates to “Norwegian omelet,” in reference to its snowy appearance.