In my hometown of Pittsburgh, we celebrate weddings like no one else. We typically invite every relative (even the crazy ones) and all our friends from as far back as elementary school. The parties can go on for days.
But whether the reception is held in a local fire hall, a picnic shelter in a park, or a fancy hotel ballroom – no matter how upscale the venue – there is one element of the traditional wedding reception that is an absolute necessity. In fact, I’m not sure a Pittsburgh couple is considered legally married without it.
I’m talking about a wedding tradition that originated here, though some other cities have tried to claim it – the legendary Pittsburgh Cookie Table!
What? You’ve never heard of it? Let me enlighten you…
At any Pittsburgh wedding worthy of the name, in addition to the multi-tiered wedding cake, guests also eagerly look forward to the Cookie Table, which is a large decorated table laden with hundreds of artfully arranged homemade cookies.
As far back as anyone can remember, legions of Pittsburgh moms, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, and friends have spent weeks or even months before the wedding on this labor of love, baking massive numbers of delicious cookies, each focusing on their own specialty. But all that work was worth it! A fabulous cookie table was a source of pride for both the family and the bakers, who loved showing off their skills.
The origins of the cookie table are rather mysterious. Some say the tradition began in the immigrant mill towns where few working families could afford a big wedding cake, and the community pitched in to make cookies instead. I’ve also heard that it was a way for families to keep the traditions of the old country in America.
Certain kinds of cookies are de rigueur. Old-fashioned standards like buckeyes, ladylocks, mini cheesecakes, pizzelles, apricot and nut horns, Italian wedding cookies, and thumbprints are the classics, but every family has their favorites.
Unfortunately, many brides today don’t have family close by. And modern grandmas, moms, and aunts are often too busy to spend weeks baking cookies.
So here’s where you come in… If you love to bake, you can start a lucrative business by providing these brides with delicious handmade cookie creations for their wedding guests.
How do you get started as a Cookie Table Consultant?
- Collect your best recipes – moms and grandmas are an excellent resource.
- Acquire the necessary baking equipment –baking sheets, bowls, a big sturdy mixer, etc.
- Start collecting fancy plates, cake stands, platters, and other items to display the cookies. Thrift stores and yard sales are great places to find them on the cheap.
- You’ll also need your own tables, linens, crystal, candlesticks, and other decorative items to help make a beautiful table.
- Don’t forget to check out local requirements for licenses and permits to sell food.
As a Cookie Table Consultant, your job is to design and bake a fabulous cookie spread for couples based on their personal preferences, their family traditions, and their budget. When the Big Day arrives, you set up and decorate the tables to show off the cookies.
It wouldn’t be difficult to expand your business beyond weddings. Because food often plays a major role in celebrating life’s milestones, your cookie table business can just as easily serve clients for graduation parties, christenings, and funerals. Corporate events are another potential venue for your services.
Because whether you’re from Pittsburgh or Portland… who doesn’t love cookies?