From wedding soup to pizza shops, the Youngstown area is home to many widely-loved recipes and traditions. But, one of our most cherished traditions undoubtedly is the Youngstown Wedding Cookie Table.
Let Us Explain
If you’re not from the Youngstown area, then the concept of a “cookie table” might be kind of foreign to you. In short: It’s our local tradition to serve hundreds (usually more like thousands!) of cookies in an elaborate display at a wedding reception. Many times the wedding cake takes a back seat to the cookie table, with some couples foregoing a traditional wedding cake altogether. In Youngstown, the first thing people ask about a wedding is, “How were the cookies?”
The immigrants that came to the Youngstown area in the early 20th century brought with them many wonderful ethnic traditions centered around food and baking. Money was tight–especially during the Great Depression–and the cost of a wedding cake was often prohibitive. Family and friends would step in and provide an amazing display of homemade cookies to serve at the reception. This time-honored tradition continues today, and it is seen as a way to show love for the newlywed couple.
The “Ingredients” For a Great Cookie Table
Cookie tables may look a little different from wedding to wedding, but there are definitely some cookie varieties that you’ll find on every great cookie table. Let’s break it down:
- The Classics: At the base of all memorable cookie tables lie varieties like Clothespin Cookies, Kiffles, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Pecan Tarts, Snowballs, Chocolate Crinkles and Thumbprints
- Straight from Nonna’s Kitchen: Homemade Pizzelles, Biscotti, Ricotta Cookies, Italian Wedding Cookies and Wands (which look like a large bow tie)
- The Natives: It’s not a true OH-IO cookie table without a hefty helping of Buckeyes. And don’t forget the Kolachi!
Check out the Youngstown Cookie Table Facebook group. With nearly 12,000 members, this page is FILLED with photos and recipes for all cookies imaginable. For ingredient advice, recipe feedback or just cookie entertainment, join the group! You can also “wear” your Cookie Table pride with a cool T-shirt created by Youngstown Clothing Company to commemorate this tradition.
If I Can’t Bake, What Do I Do?
Great question! If baking just isn’t your forte (or if you don’t have time to bake thousands of cookies), look no further than the local bakeries of Mahoning County.
- Classic Bakery | Boardman, OH – Serving baked goods for over 50 years, you’ll find everything from homemade pastries and cookies, to pies, cakes and donuts
- Bake Me Treats | Poland, OH – Known for their French macarons and specialty cakes
- One Hot Cookie | Berlin, Boardman & Youngstown, OH – Decadent cookies piled high with specialty toppings
- Butter Maid Bakery | Boardman, OH – Serves some of the area’s best kolachi, using a 150-year-old recipe
- The Amish Market | Boardman, OH – Baked goods are made fresh and sold in the market
- White House Fruit Farm | Canfield, OH – Lots of baked goods sold year-round, along with a variety of seasonal items
- Das Dutch Haus | Columbiana, OH – Traditional fresh baked goods and specialty cakes
Not invited to a Youngstown-area wedding? The Mahoning Valley Historical Society hosts an annual fundraiser each February, Cookie Tables & Cocktails, based around this beloved tradition. It’s a great way to have a Cookie Table experience!
Be sure to follow our Facebook page or take a look at the Mahoning County Convention & Visitors Bureau website! If you’ve created a cookie table of your own recently, share your photos on social media with the hashtag #VisitYoungstown.