O’Henry Bars, 1965 – A Vintage Recipe Test

Posted on Oct 5 2017 - 4:54am by RetroRuth

This week we aren’t doing anything freaky, just making some nice, calm bar cookies.


These are O’Henry Bars!

5.0 from 3 reviews
O’Henry Bars
  • ⅔ cup melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ⅔ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 4 cups quick cooking oatmeal
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  1. Mix melted butter and sugars, then add vanilla and oatmeal. Pat firmly into well-greased 9x13 pan. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  2. Melt chocolate chips and stir in peanut butter. Spread over baked mixture as soon as it is removed from the oven. Let set in the refrigerator.

Oh Henry Bars Art of Cooking St. Pauls

This recipe is from the Art of Cooking, a community cookbook from St. Paul’s Church from 1965. Sorry, this scan got kind of smeared, probably because a kid was tugging on my arm while I was scanning it.

Anyway, since O’Henry Bars are candy bars, I was interested to see if this would taste like candy, a cookie, or…a granola bar. Because 4 cups of oatmeal is a lot of oatmeal for a candy bar. Anyway, this also is missing the caramel and peanuts from the candy bar version, but there is peanut butter so I guess that counts. Sort of.

Interesting tidbit about candy Oh Henry Bars, Nestle writes on their website that it was named after a young man named Henry who used to flirt with the candy shop girls, which is kinda cute.


These were incredibly easy to throw together, which is always much appreciated for a dessert.




And, covered with chocolate. We can’t forget that important step.


A little note about these: They were very, very firm. It wasn’t difficult to get them out of the pan, but they were just very crunchy.



“What’s that face for? It’s a cookie!”
”It’s not a cookie. It’s a granola bar.”

The Verdict: Granola Bar

These were very good, but obviously a chocolate-covered granola bar. They were very sweet and crunchy. Not so crunchy you broke your teeth, but they were on the firm side. The brown sugar gave them a slight caramel flavor. Not as fun as eating caramel, but it was good enough for me. You couldn’t really taste the peanut butter at all, so I probably would add more of that in the future. But overall, a yummy crunchy treat. Tom and Alex weren’t huge fans, so I ended up eating most of them. Were they like the candy version of O’Henry Bars? No, not at all. Were they good? Yes. Would I make them again? Yes. But next time I think I am doubling the chocolate topping.

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit in...to the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (www.midcenturymenu.com), No Pattern Required (www.nopatternrequired.com), and I Ate The 80's (www.iatethe80s.com).

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8 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Sue October 6, 2017 at 11:12 am - Reply

    I remember those! A Midwestern church potluck and bake sale staple when I was a kid in the 70s. Didn’t matter which church!

  2. Lassie October 7, 2017 at 11:15 pm - Reply

    They sound delicious, but that’s a heckuva lot of sugar and chocolate. They say most granola bars are more candy than healthy snacks. Sound darn tasty, nonetheless.

  3. bkd69 October 11, 2017 at 3:52 am - Reply

    Instead of doubling up on the chocolate, take a cue from millionaire shortbread and drop a layer of caramel on top of the bars before the chocolate. And mix in some salted peanuts with the oatmeal.

  4. Diego Lopes October 16, 2017 at 7:16 am - Reply

    These cookie bars look delicious!! Can’t wait to try making (and eating!) them!

  5. Keiko October 30, 2017 at 10:56 am - Reply

    I made these-and they were exactly the way I remember them from my “mid century mom”. The only screw-up was that I baked them a little too long so I had to dig them out a little bit-I was misled by thinking that because they weren’t “set” when I pulled them out that they weren’t done when in reality they harden as they cool. I thought they tasted like the candy bar and not a granola bar. I was a tad short on the chocolate so I threw in a scoop of Nutella to improvise and that kicked it up a notch 🙂

    • Brenda November 8, 2017 at 8:46 pm - Reply

      The nutella probably added some oil to help with the consistency. That’s a good idea. My thought was to mix marshmallows into the oatmeal base to soften it.

  6. Speedy-O'Reedy November 25, 2017 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    Try this, and you’ll see that not only does it make a softer base, but the whole thing is much more akin to the O’Henry bar. In any case, a much more enjoyable version…and the actual recipe handed to my mother in the late’70s…even my elementary school would serve them.

    Preheat oven to 350.

    1 C butter
    1 C sugar
    1 C brown sugar

    2 eggs
    1 C peanut butter, creamy
    1 t vanilla

    1 t baking soda
    1/2 t salt
    2 C flour
    2 C oats

    Blend. Spread onto greased 11×17 pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, checking after 15, until browned but not too browned. Remove from oven, sprinkle 12 oz chips onto top, let them melt, spread.

    1/2 C peanut butter, creamy
    1 C powdered sugar
    4-8 T canned milk

    Beat well until smooth and creamy. Frost over cooled (and hardened) chocolate layer.

  7. Mander December 4, 2017 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    Sounds a lot like British flapjacks, which are sort of a cross between granola bars and cake. Usually they are not much more than oats, golden syrup, and butter though there are many variations.

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