Stories behind delicious desserts’ recipes add character


As Joey lifted a thick piece of his favorite red velvet cake onto his fork, he reminisced about years of previous birthdays where his mom made this same cake for him.

He looked across the counter at the recipe book, a few of its pages stained with splatters from red food coloring after countless times of carefully following the recipe. As he turned the book over to see where his favorite cake recipe had come from, he was surprised by its title, “Too Good to Be True: The Colossal Book of Urban Legends.”

The book, published in 1999, is filled with hundreds of stories that seem too good, too interesting and too funny to be true.

The story behind  this red velvet cake, favored by Joey Pitt, a junior studying political science, is both interesting and expensive.

“So the story goes that a woman was at a fancy hotel in New York, and she loved the red velvet cake they served,” Joey said. “She asked for the recipe, which they mailed to her, and then charged her $300 for.”

According to the story, that has become a legend, the woman was shocked and angry at the high price and consulted with a lawyer who told her she couldn’t do anything to get her money back.

In retaliation, the woman decided to spread the recipe to as many people as she could. Eventually it spread across the Internet, into books and eventually into the Pitt home, where Joey’s mom, Wendy Pitt, makes it frequently.

“I have always loved red velvet cake, and the story behind this certain recipe is so funny to me it makes me like it even more,” Wendy said.

Another similar food legend found in this same book revolves around a different expensive recipe, but this time for cookies. Hillary Rankin, a sophomore from Cedar Hills studying nursing, first was given these cookies from a friend and soon learned the story behind the recipe.

“My neighbor made me some cookies, and they really were some of the best I have ever had,” Rankin said. “I asked for the recipe, and my neighbor laughed and said they were the Neiman Marcus million dollar cookies.”

Rankin said she then learned the recipe was said to be from the Neiman Marcus Cafe, where when a customer asked for the recipe was charged a million dollars for it.

“I really don’t believe that they charged a customer a million dollars for the recipe, ” Rankin said, “but it really is an amazingly good cookie.”

Becca Allred, a junior from San Jose studying art, said she loves searching out urban legends like the red velvet cake and Neiman Marcus cookies.

“I’ve heard that there’s a sandwich somewhere in Europe that costs a few hundred dollars because of some fancy mushroom they put on it,” Allred said. “Who knows if that is true or not, but it intrigues me enough that I want to find it.”

From sandwiches to cookies and cake, there are many urban legends that exist and peak the curiosity of many. These stories add character to recipes like for a simple red velvet cake enjoyed at each and every birthday.

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