Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pittsburgh flair: The cookie table

"No Pittsburgh wedding is complete without one." You can find a cookie table at nearly every wedding in Western Pennsylvania: a long buffet table filed with trays and trays of sweet treats. Many local reception venues even include the table for cookies in their packages, offering to "tray your cookies" for you.

While we like to consider this a Pittsburgh tradition, historical research shows that the cookie table may have actually originated in nearby Youngstown, Ohio. Several other regions across the U.S. indulge in the cookie buffet as well, but nowhere so predominantly as Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.

Traditionally, female relatives of the bride all pitch in and bake dozens and dozens of homemade cookies in several varieties before the big day. You can also order the cookies from a local bakery, or mix it up with a combination of homemade and bakery treats.

Give your cookie table a modern twist and combine it with a current national trend, the candy buffet. Pair trays of cookies with bowls of candy and provide bags for guests to create their own favor to take home. Or, go for a different look and serve the cookies out of clear cookie jars instead of tray. Hang a tag from each jar identifying the type and the baker (e.g. "Grandma's Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies."

If you're getting married in Pittsburgh, many of your local guests will expect to find cookies at the reception. But your out-of-town guests may be clueless about the tradition. If you want to give them a local history lesson, clue them in with a simple sign explaining the cookie table. In my experience, most out-of-towners are delighted by the idea (case in point, the picture below of an out-of-town college friend of the bride and groom, who went a little too crazy over the cookies).
No matter how you choose to include the cookie table on your wedding day, it is an old-time tradition that will never get old.

Images, from top: Shout Youngstown, Design Mom, Perfect Memories
Sources: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Wikipedia, Miami University of Ohio


Shawn Ramsey said...

Pittsburghers love their wedding cookies and we specialize in them. Please come check us out.

The Cookie Connection @

Great photo of the cookie lover by the way. :)

Laura said...

I'm doing the traditional Pittsburgh Cookie Table and half of my guest will be from out-of-town. I thought of the idea to have a note framed explaining the tradition. I'm looking for some suggestions on what to put. I dont want it to seem like a history lesson just something simple. Thanks!

Lauren said...

Hi Laura,

I used this at my wedding, hopefully it will help!

The cookie table is a Pittsburgh tradition attributed to the collaborative and culinary efforts of many ethnic groups. The bride’s family and friends present an awe-inspiring spread of cookies and desserts for the wedding feast. While no one knows where or why the cookie table originated, no Pittsburgh wedding is complete without one.

Laura said...

Thats perfect! Thank you so much for your help!

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