Eat Like a Geek: The Neiman-Marcus Cookie Meme

Cooking and Recipes GeekMom
Internet meme be damned! This is a really really good cookie, chock full of rich, sweet ingredients. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

In this installment of Eat Like a Geek, we’re going to discuss one of my family’s favorite cookie recipes, the Neiman-Marcus cookie, based on the 1996 meme. Neiman-Marcus is Dallas, Texas’s flagship department store, now throughout the United States, and starting on December 1st it will have products available through their partnership with Target department stores.

Back to this cookie. Even though it isn’t specifically a holiday cookie, every November/December I end up making mass quantities of them along with my other favorite holiday cookie recipes; they ship well for care packages to deployed servicemembers, and everyone who ever tastes one can’t get over so much flavor and richness in such a small cookie. I still have my printed copy in my recipe box, although I now just refer to my own blog post with my iPad — my new best friend when it comes to displaying my favorite online recipes!

A show of hands, please. How many of you were emailed the following message in the mid-90s?

FWD: Free Neiman-Marcus Cookie Recipe

This is a true story… Please forward it to everyone that you can…. You will have to read it to believe it….

My daughter and I had just finished a salad at Neiman-Marcus Cafe in Dallas & decided to have a small dessert. Because both of us are such cookie lovers, we decided to try the “Neiman-Marcus Cookie”. It was so excellent that I asked if they would give me the recipe and the waitress said with a small frown “I’m afraid not.” “Well” I said, “would you let me buy the recipe?”

With a cute smile, she said “YES”. I asked how much and she responded, “Only two fifty, it’s a great deal!” I said with approval, “Just add it to my tab”. Thirty days later, I received my VISA statement from Neiman-Marcus and it was $285.00. I looked again and remembered I had only spent $9.95 for two salads and about $20.00 for a scarf. As I glanced at the bottom of the statement, it said, “Cookie Recipe – $250.00”. That’s outrageous!!!

I called Neiman’s Accounting Dept. and told them that the waitress said it was “two-fifty,” which clearly does not mean “two hundred and fifty dollars” by any POSSIBLE interpretation of the phrase. Neiman-Marcus refused to budge. They would not refund my money, because according to them, “What the waitress told you is not our problem. You have already seen the recipe — we absolutely will not refund your money at this point.” I explained to her the criminal statutes which govern fraud in Texas. I threatened to refer them to the Better Business Bureau and the state’s attorney general for engaging in fraud. I was basically told, “Do what you want, we don’t give a damn, and we’re not refunding your money.” I waited a moment, thinking of how I could get even,or even try to get any of my money back. I just said, “Okay, you folks got my $250.00, and now I’m going to have $250.00 worth of fun.”

I told her that I was going to see to it that every cookie lover in the United States with an e-mail account has a $250.00 cookie recipe from Neiman-Marcus … for free. She replied, “I wish you wouldn’t do this.” I said, “Well you should have thought of that before you ripped me off,” and slammed down the phone on her. So, here it is!!! Please, please, please pass it on to everyone you can possibly think of. I paid $250.00 dollars for this … I don’t want Neiman-Marcus to ever get another penny off of this recipe…

(Recipe may be halved):
2 cups butter
4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar
5 cups blended oatmeal (measure oatmeal and blend in blender to a fine powder)
24 oz. chocolate chips
1 tsp. salt
1 8 oz. Hershey bar (grated)
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)
2 tsp. vanilla

Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey bar and nuts. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 112 cookies. Have Fun!!!

This is not a joke — this is a true story. Ride free citizens!!!! This isn’t some stupid chain letter either …  pass it on … if you don’t, you won’t die or get dumped. You’ll just do the world an injustice…


True Neiman Marcus geeks will tell you right away that Neiman Marcus (a) does not have a “Neiman Marcus Cafe” in any of their Dallas stores, (b) does not sell any recipes, they’re given away for free for the asking, and (c) didn’t even have chocolate chip-based cookies until after this email spread like wildfire.

Interestingly, even though this is known as one of the earlier Internet memes, it comes from a classic story that had been passed — with the recipes — through the ages. Two well known examples are the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel’s Red Velvet Cake and Mrs. Field’s chocolate chip cookies. In all of these cases, a customer allegedly attempted to get the recipe for the yummy dessert, and the store charged an unrealistic amount of money for the recipe.

It was my parents who actually tried the recipe in 1997 and assured me that the proportions are legitimate (although I’d have put the ingredient list in a better order).  I remember first baking these in Seoul, Korea in my tiny tiny kitchen for Christmas 1998. I have a good-sized stand mixer, and the full recipe overflowed cookie dough up and out of the mixer bowl!

Because I personally have a hard time with the order of ingredients, the volume of dough, and the cooking times in the recipe above, I present to you GeekMom Patricia’s specially modified Neiman-Marcus Cookie recipe, optimized for that cooking geek who understands the traditional procedure to make cookie dough:

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 cups blended oatmeal — run oats through food processor or blender, then measure what you need
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter (that’s 2 sticks)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Add Ins

  • 4 oz. of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate — you can run Kisses, Nuggets, candy bars, through the food processor till a fine powder
  • 12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (one small package)
  • 1 to 1.5 cups of chopped nuts (optional, I use black walnuts)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine dry ingredients thoroughly. With a stand mixer, cream together butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, mix well.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until just combined. Mix in Add In ingredients until just combined.

Roll into balls, or use a cookie scoop to distribute 2 Tbsp. of batter on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes if using metal cookie sheets, or 12-15 minutes on a baking stone.  If using a baking stone, the first batch will take significantly longer than the subsequent batches.

Fifteen years later, I’m still making at least one, oftentimes two full batches of these cookies. Give them a shot and let me know what you think!


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