The classic brownie is deep in the heart of a dramatic makeover. There are now brownie Bundt cakes, brownie-inspired cheesecake slices, brownie cookies, brownie batter bites and over-the-top brownie desserts topped with marshmallows at classic restaurants. But before we get carried away with all the creative possibilities, here’s a bit of history.

Sources suggest that it was at the Columbian Exposition in the 1890s that the decadent chocolate dessert was introduced. As the story goes, the wealthy socialite Bertha Potter Palmer “asked her chef at The Palmer House Hotel in Chicago to create a dessert that could be tucked into a box lunch for ladies to eat while attending the Columbian Exposition. The result was a super-rich, fudgy-chocolate confection – the Palmer House brownie. The brownie remains on the hotel’s menu, but the name of the creative chef, alas, is lost in antiquity,” as reported by Suzanne Hall in A Batch of Brownies.

These brownies, possibly the first ever made, included significant amounts of chocolate, butter, and sugar, as well as cake flour and eggs. Interestingly, they were also topped with walnuts and an apricot glaze.

The use of chocolate in baking increased dramatically in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, largely thanks to the efforts of enterprising housekeeping and cooking educators who partnered with industry in the name of “domestic science.” At the Columbian Exposition, for example, Walter Baker & Company demonstrated chocolate making with their equipment and offered free samples to visitors.

Promotional ideas

Looking for tips on how to promote the ultimate brownie experience? Try H‑E‑B Bakery Two‑Bite Brownies. Made with a blend of real chocolate and double‑roasted cocoa, they have a crispy edge and a soft and moist middle. Enjoy this mouthwatering treat on its own or with a scoop of your favorite ice cream.

  • Two-Bite Brownies
  • Made with real chocolate and double-roasted cocoa
  • Soft and moist on the inside
  • Crispy edges
  • Mouthwatering treat or dessert