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Berger Cookies may be victim of trans-fat ban

Personally, I've never liked Berger Cookies or understood their appeal, but for those who love them - beware. If the FDA goes ahead with the transfat ban, Berger Cookies as you know and love them may be a thing of the past. The company owner and president says they have tried alternate recipes and the cookies just aren't the same. Transfats were not used commercially until about 1910 and Berger Cookies have been around since 1835. There must have been a recipe that didn't use transfats for those first 75 years, but of course, what all of us alive today know as Berger Cookies were probably made with the transfats. Still, it seems like they should dig through the company archives to see if they can find the original recipe.

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    1. Maybe the reason they don't taste like real chocolate is the trans fats?

      1. Just some facts: the FDA has not actually proposed to ban. It has announced a tentative decision to ban and has called for comments and submission of scientific info. Now in reality, it means that they have made a decision but they are begging the public to overwhelm them with supportive comments (yes, I am a cynic - does it show? but I've been doing this kind of work for a long time). Trust me, they have no trouble digging up the scientific info on their own.


        I suspect that the 2016 comment implied that there will be regime change resulting in an administration that does not like this kind of regulation and that would reverse it.

        2 Replies
          1. re: flavrmeistr

            Yes. As I think of them (ALL of them): The Fools on the Hill. Or given the proximity to T-day, the Washington Turkeys. Hmm. Maybe that's what they could call the football team: the Washington Gobblers.

        1. Similar thing happened with HP Sauce. Heinz agreed to voluntarily lower the salt content by 38%, which totally changed the flavor. I imagine this won't be the last product where the flavor changes because they're trying to lower transfat/sugar/salt content.


          1. I am 68 and have been eating Berger's cookies forever. I have never understood the love they get from many. maybe its nostalgia, but I still dont understand it. Cookies w/o trans-fats appeal to me greatly.

            1 Reply
            1. re: tartuffe

              You've been eating them forever but don't get the appeal?

              Sounds to me like you are '-)

            2. That's so funny. Because the sugar content in those cookies isn't a problem *at all*.

              1. No great loss IMO. Went to the Baltimore board for advice prior to my first visit and was told "be sure to get the Berger's cookies". To me, they were worse than mediocre -- they completely sucked. The "chocolate" topping didn't even taste like chocolate.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Steve Green

                  Well, that's what happens when hydrogenated soybean oil stands in for cacao butter. ;)

                  My friend from Baltimore once brought me a tasting sampler of Berger cookies, from the original bakery, and look-a-likes from other bakeries in the area. Quite frankly, the counterfeits tasted much better, perhaps because they were made with real butter and/or genuine chocolate.

                  I read some of the news coverage that included quotes from the owner. Apparently the current recipe uses margarine and hydrogenated soybean oil. I wonder if the reformulation experiments have used only non-transfat margarine and soybean oil, or if the owner might have tried using actual butter, gasp!

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    At last some sanity! Thank you Melanie Wong for your comments on this trumped up controversy: yes, encourage the owners to use butter and good ingredients

                    1. re: curioussheridan

                      King Arthur Flour has two recipes for making the cookies with ingredients that would make me want to eat them.

                      1. re: curioussheridan

                        And I just read this article that says he's been experimenting with non-transfat shortenings. Duh.


                        California and New York, the two largest food markets in the country, had already banned transfats from restaurant kitchens. Businesses had no trouble adjusting and manufacturers have plenty of non-transfat cooking fats ready to use that were developed for use in CA and NY.

                  2. I have lived here all my life (mostly) and have never comprehended the love of Berger's cookies. I have always assumed it was nostalgia divorced from reality--that is, the cookies were less than special

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: tartuffe

                      Agreed. Otterbein cookies get my vote for Baltimore's Best Cookie. Far superior, IMHO.

                      1. re: tartuffe

                        The odd thing is that Berger's aren't common. No one I knew kept them in their houses or bought them. I knew of Berger's and people mentioned them but I only ever had them rarely, usually at a potluck party where someone brought a box, and I can probably count the number of times when it happened on one hand.

                        How it morphed into a "Baltimore" culinary tradition is puzzling. It's always been a cookie talked about far more than actually eaten. In my early childhood there was a local rival to Berger's, which was much more commonly seen: the yellow cookies with chocolate frosting from the old New System bakery in pre-hip Hampden. They were in the shape of a thick yellow spritz cookie with a big dollop of chocolate frosting. While Berger's were messy looking, the New System cookies looked more elegant. Anyone else remember them?

                      2. Here's the latest news about Berger cookies . . . mislabeling.

                        The cookie has not been reformulated yet. And according to the article, the owner is still messing around with non-transfat shortening.

                        A word of advice . . . BUTTER.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          yes butter. yet perhaps they've forgotten how to use it...

                        2. Due to the buzz on this board I bought a box (expensive!) and tried one. Horrible. The frosting was like canned frosting. I threw the rest out.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Mulan

                            Try them from the Berger Bakery at Lexington Market. I find them a little too sweet, but not "horrible". If you want a good Baltimore supermarket cookie, try Otterbein's. The chocolate chip are exquisite. Safeway and Giant carry them.

                            1. re: Mulan

                              I also bought some recently. I happened to be pacing the aisles trying to find a dessert that wasn't the standard store-bought fare. I vaguely recalled that the Berger cookies might be what I had read on Chowhound and confirmed that they indeed were, when I got back to my hotel room.

                              Well, I think I ate one and a tiny part of the second one. I didn't take them with me (why bother) but felt kind of bad about just tossing the almost full package, so I just left them off to the side.

                              I guess next time I should look for the Otterbein's.

                            2. I'm coming into this discussion late, but I found this and remembered that it had been discussed, several times.
                              Just make your own!