Rich, buttery and only 5 cents each, Chicago Public Schools iconic butter biscuits made lunch time all the merrier from the 1960 and thru the 80s. These classic shortbread biscuits, pressed with 3 fingers for fantastic measure and baked to perfection toasted, once graced cafeteria trays throughout the city. They’d been the absolute best, says Gwendolyn Streak, who’s worked in CPS lunchrooms for at least 19 years and now manages operations in Schurz High School from Old Irving Park. Once you saw the lunch girls serving up biscuits from the cafeteria it was formally a good day.” . Made from scratch, with a lot of butter and plenty of sugar, they are not on the menu anymore, since their sugar and fat content wouldn’t meet today’s nutrition criteria.
But we still create them from time to time, to discuss among the cafeteria staff, Streak says. Their origins are murky, and Chicago Public Schools does not have any record of where or when the biscuits made their introduction, but based on alumni lorethey popped up in the 1960 at both elementary and high schools through Chicago. The original recipe requires only four components sugar, butter, vanilla extract and flour, but in some stage, a peanut butter variant appeared on the cafeteria scene. In later years, the made of scratch biscuits were replaced by mass produced, packaged goods.
Today, the CPS Local School Wellness Policy clearly states, No dessert like items shall be served as part of any school meal, making CPS biscuits cafeteria contraband. However two area entrepreneurs, Cheryl Crockett of Crockett Cookies and Diane Devroe of Lady Di’s Bakery, have capitalized on the sweet nostalgia of CPS biscuits. Crockett was working at the corporate world when a college friend shared her recipe for the cafeteria timeless. I adapted the recipe, hoping to re create the happy school moment memories these biscuits inspired, and brought a few to a family get together. From that day forward, I could not attend a family gathering without a batch of my cookies.”.
A lightbulb went off, and Crockett started baking up lunchroom style biscuits in her very own kitchen, then moved about to Kitchen Chicago, a shared kitchen space from West Town, as demand rapidly grew. Today she operates Crockett Cookies out of a 4, 000 sq foot facility of her very own about the Near West Side, delivering his precious biscuits available from both original butter and peanut butter to over 200 Walgreens and Whole Foods locations throughout the city and suburbs. She also sells her cookies on-line at crockettcookies.com, and will sell at walmart.com in 2018, she says. Crockett, who grew up about the South Side, fondly remembers the lunchroom treat of her very own school days. I made a point to keep the imprint of 3 fingers, which ups the nostalgia factor, she explains.