How In The Dunk Did We Get Here?

January 04, 2018 Arthur Watson

Confessions of A (Cookie) Monster:

How In The Dunk Did We Get Here?

                  Happy New Year friends! I hope you all enjoyed the holiday season filled with family, friends and hopefully, lots of culinary enjoyment. As anyone who knows me can tell you, my holidays would never be complete without taking my mom’s sugar cookies for a spin through chocolate milk, hot cocoa, tea and even coffee (all with the help of my trusty Dunking Buddy).  As I savored each delicious dunk, I began to think back over the past year and started letting my mind wander to history- and specifically – cookie dunking history. I mean-think about it- where in the world did we first get the idea to take a perfectly good cookie and dunk it into liquid? Who was the first person to have this inspiration and why the heck would it even occur to them? I began to pose this question to friends and family members and while most of them looked at me like I was weird brilliant to ask the question, no one had the answer. And so – to Encyclopedia Google I went with my Dunking Buddy in one hand and a sugar cookie between my teeth.

                  I have to admit – what I found was nothing short of fascinating and, for some of these accounts, highly amusing to this cookie monster. So, let’s start at the very beginning (and sing it *a very good place to start*):

  • Ancient Rome – Can you picture good ol’ Caesar himself as dunker? Well, he very well may have been. Romans took treats called ‘bis cotum’ (ahem- sound familiar biscotti lovers??) and would dip them in WINE to soften them up and make them easier to eat.
    • Can we pause here for a second because after reading this, I immediately used my Dunking Buddy to dunk a sugar cookie into Moscato. Yes, I am that weird And no, I don’t regret it. Oh- and don’t believe me on the Roman spin? Read it for yourself here.
  • Fast forward to the 16th century – Members of the Royal Navy would rely on biscuits known as hard tacks for supplemental nutrition. However, due to the unknown nature of the length of time at sea, these biscuits were made to have a really, really, really long shelf life – which made them so hard they were inedible without dunking them in some sort of liquid. So, the beverage of choice for dunking by these seafaring gentlemen? Beer! (I promise- this is all true verified across multiple sources- check one of them out here.)

I know what you’re thinking at this point, “JM – as all well and good as this is, how in the world did we go from dunking biscuits in booze to cookies in milk or tea?” I AM SO GLAD YOU ASKED! While things here seem to get a bit fuzzy in terms of historical records, I can tell you that Queen Victoria was known to make dunking biscuits into tea an embraceable activity, one that was initially frowned upon by high society. It is said this was a tradition that she learned in her German childhood. So, with that, it isn’t much of a stretch to see how dunking desserts in an accompanying beverage carried on around the world to reach us in present day.

So, what do we learn from all of this? Well, as I finished my tour of dunking history, here are the conclusions I devised:

  • The Romans still remain one of the most influential societies of all time
  • 16th century British sailors really knew how to make the most of beer
  • Queen Victoria is a hero for not caring one bit about what ‘high society’ thought and carrying on her own traditions
  • As someone who believes in carrying on long standing traditions, it’s up to us dear reader to carry on the Dunking Revolution and spread this knowledge to the next generation of dunkers!

So friends- what is your dunking inspiration in all of this? Do you have a dunking tradition to share? Or a story about what you think of as your most crazy/ingenious dunk? Comment below and I look forward to reading them! Cheers to a brilliant 2018!


Jean Marie McCormick is a Stamford resident, with a piece of her heart permanently residing in the Bronx. She is a full-time market researcher, part-time thespian, and lifelong fan of cookies and milk. She lives with her dog-daughter Emma and looks forward to sharing more cookie adventures!


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