Cookies vs Biscuits

I grew up learning the British English. Hence, in my head, biscuits were cookies. When I wanted cookies, I asked for biscuits. I only used “biscuits”. But this no longer applied when I moved to the US.

According to theFreeDictionary, cookies are defined as “small, usually flat and crisp cakes made from sweetened dough”. I just learned that cookie is a Scot word for bun. And cookie is a popular Internet term- a cookie is “a collection of information including username and the current date and time, stored on the local computer of a person using the WWW”. The Internet cookie is used mainly “by websites to identify users who have previously registered or visited the site”. But we digress.

Biscuits, on the other hand, are defined by theFreeDictionary as “small cake of shortened bread leavened with baking powder or soda”. The British often refer to them as “thin, crisp crackers”, most akin in American English to a cookie. Biscuits are popular in America since they can go with gravy, serve as a topping for shepherd's pie or simply eaten by themselves.

In North America, biscuits have soft bread-like texture, almost similar to scones. Cookies are baked until crisp and typically chewy in the inside. Some cookies recipes do not require baking.

So where did the words derive from and how they became popular?

According to AnswerMeThis!, the word “biscuit” derives from the Latin for “twice-cooked”. I guess, the rest is history. However, the word “cookie” is probably derived from the Dutch word “koekje”, which means small cake. David from Canada explained how the word “cookie” became popular in North America. New York used to be New Amsterdam. It was important to the development of the American lexicon and Dutch words were already integrated by the time the British took over. I highly doubt the word “cookie” became famous due to the widely-known fictional Muppet character Cookie Monster from the TV show Sesame Street.

Now on to the nutritional facts. One Southern biscuit contains 163 calories, while the same kind from McDonalds packs in 410 calories. Everyone’s favorite chocolate chip cookie, made with margarine, contains 138 calories. Oatmeal raisin cookie has 123 calories compared to the 134 calories from a peanut butter cookie.

At the end of the day, life is simpler when we clear up the confusion and know the differences between a cookie and a biscuit. My two cents is use them as appropriate and avoid any heated debate over who is right and who is wrong. And that, my friend, is being a smart cookie!

Don't forget to check out my oatmeal raisin chocolate chip nut cookies recipe.

Date: 7/8/10