Cracker Jills, 1971 – A Vintage Christmas Cookie Recipe Test

Posted on Dec 6 2017 - 7:23am by RetroRuth

I seriously love this time of year. It is time for cookies!

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And these are Cracker Jills!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Cracker Jills
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter
  • 3 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1¼ cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 cup salted Spanish peanuts (I used cocktail peanuts)
  • 2 cups coarsely crushed soda crackers (saltines)
  • Powdered sugar for rolling
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and cream cheese; add sugar gradually; beat in egg.
  2. Blend in flour, baking soda and syrup. Fold in peanuts and crackers. These can be made right away, or chilled until ready to bake.
  3. Scoop out tablespoon-sized balls with your cookie scoop or a spoon. Roll in powdered sugar. Place on lightly greased or parchment covered cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes. Makes 30 cookies.

Cracker Jills  - Christmas Cookie Book, Wisconsin Electric, 1971

Super, super cute name on these. I was interested to see if they would taste like Cracker Jack!

This recipe is from the most hallowed and revered Wisconsin Electric holiday cookie book, the 1971 edition. Wisconsin Electric starting sending out holiday cookie recipes collected from employees and customers in holiday booklets in 1928, and distributing them to customers as goodwill freebies. They have continued this tradition up to the present day, which is amazing. The cookie recipes in these books are unique and fantastic, and many, many Wisconsin households have used their books for generations, including my family. My mom makes Coconut Top Hats every Christmas, which are also from the Wisconsin Electric booklet from 1971 (and in other editions as well).

The best part about this is that Wisconsin Electric has put all of their holiday booklets online, for free, so you can download cookie recipes to your hearts content! To see the recipes, you can go here. To see a cute little video about the booklets, you can go here.

But enough history. On to cookies and glory!

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Crushed up saltines! Alex crushed them up for me, and had a great time doing it.

Just FYI – 2 cups of crushed saltines is exactly one sleeve of crackers from the box.

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Peanuts! These are technically cocktail peanuts, but they still had some of the skins so I called it good.

“Mama, I can tell we are making cookies.”

“Oh? How can you tell that?”

“Because it smells like sugar and flour in here instead of our regular home place.”

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All mixed up!

I was very intrigued by this point. I wondered what a cookie with a big hunk of saltine cracker in it was going to taste like.

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The rolling took the bulk of our time. It turns out Alex needed to make sure every bit of dough was covered with powdered sugar.

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Missed a spot!

Trust me, she noticed. She re-rolled that cookie about six times.  I finally distracted her by letting her eat a little bit of dough so I could get the cookie sheet in the oven.

“Mama, I can taste the sugar inside this cream.”

“That sounds yummy.”

“It is. I think we are done. I think it tastes like cookies.”

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All crispy and delicious.

Now, onto the judging.

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“What do you think?”

“These are really good. It tastes like peanut brittle in cookie form.”

“Are there big hunks of crackers in them?”

“Big hunks of…what? What are you talking about?”

“Nevermind. Alex, what do you think of them?”

“I think they are wonderful!”

The Verdict: Wonderful

From The Tasting Notes –

Once again, the Wisconsin Electric Cookie Book wins the day. These were super interesting and fun to make. Also, on the cheap side for Christmas cookies. Bonus is you get to use up some of the dark corn syrup you have leftover from that one pecan pie you made for Thanksgiving. I was wondering if the finished cookies would have big cracker chunks in them, but the crackers just kind of melted into the cookies and left them with an interesting texture and a good level of saltiness, but no cracker chunks. They didn’t taste as much like Cracker Jack as I thought they would, but they did have some of that that toffee/peanut taste so I would call that a win. To me they tasted more like peanut brittle, but I’m not complaining about that. They stuck together well and baked up prettily, so high marks all around. I am totally remaking these for my Christmas cookie plate.

And here is Tom, sneak-tasting another one. For science.

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

  1. Amanda December 6, 2017 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Well now I’m obsessed with that website of vintage booklets! I want to print them all but that is not a realistic goal. For today. 🙂

  2. Kerry December 6, 2017 at 12:04 pm - Reply

    My Wednesday treat! These sound delicious…we’ll make them this weekend!

  3. Morgan December 6, 2017 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    Did you use the Saltines with salted tops or without?

    • RetroRuth December 7, 2017 at 4:58 pm - Reply

      Salted tops!

  4. Maureen December 7, 2017 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    These look delicious! I watched the video about the cookie books, and got a bit teary eyed…what a sweet (no pun intended) tradition!

  5. Godzilaw December 7, 2017 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    These look amazing! Can’t wait to make them with the kids!

  6. Lisa Wolf December 7, 2017 at 10:26 pm - Reply

    Wow.
    Powdered sugar.
    Black suit.
    Tom is a brave man.

  7. Marty December 7, 2017 at 11:58 pm - Reply

    I just bookmarked the index page! I’ve got some research to do before going to the store! 🙂

  8. Gristle McNerd December 9, 2017 at 10:13 am - Reply

    I just made these! Corn syrup is hard to come by around here, so I used beet molasses, probably the wrong kind of cracker too, and I ran out of powdered sugar halfway through, but they nonetheless are, indeed, quite wonderful.

  9. amanda December 9, 2017 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    I made these last night and they are so good! I made my first batch too big so had to correct that for the rest of the sheets because they didn’t spread out much for me. I also had to add about 2 min to the baking time, but that could be my oven. I am supposed to take these to a party but I keep eating them!

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