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20 Best American Cookies

American Cookies from Above
Image: ©2foodtrippers

Just because the cookie precedes the founding of the United States by centuries doesn’t mean that the USA doesn’t have great cookies. Instead, Americans deserve credit for creating and baking some of the world’s best. We know this because we grew up eating cookies in Georgia and Pennsylvania – two states where the act of combining butter and sugar is both an art and a skill.

Fast forward to the present and American cookies are the cookies we crave most. While we rarely refuse eating biscuits in London, biscotti in Florence or galettas in Barcelona, we experience a prideful thrill each time we see Oreo packs in an Asian 7-11. We also experience joy when we smell the heavenly aroma of Toll House cookies baking in our oven. Just thinking about that aroma makes us crave American cookies.

Buy a cookie sampler from Amazon if you love American cookies too.

Our Picks For The Best American Cookies

American Cookies on White Plate
We ate a lot of American cookies to find our favorites. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Eating cookies is a guilty pleasure that we rarely resist whether we’re at home or in America. We’re not talking about bakery cookies, Girl Scout cookies or ginormous Crumbl cookies. We love those desserts too. We’re talking about cookies that line the shelves of American convenience stores, supermarkets and vending machines.

Our cookie passion hatched a sweet plan or, as we call it, our American cookie project…

This plan involved purchasing and tasting dozens of cookies over a one-week period in a quest to eat as many great American cookies as physically possible. Some of the top cookies were sentimental childhood favorites while a few are newer favorites.

Read on to discover our picks for the best American cookies.

1. Oreos

Year Introduced: 1912
Original Owner: Nabisco
Current Owner: Mondelēz International

The Oreo cookie is the most popular cookie in America and the world. This factoid is no surprise since the chocolate, cream filled sandwich gems are ubiquitous in far-flung countries like Thailand and Vietnam. The numbers are staggering. Oreo sales have reportedly exceeded half a trillion (with a t) dollars since Nabisco sold the first Oreos in New York City in 1912.

Essentially, Oreos are chocolate sandwich cookies filled with sweet sugary cream. When you eat Oreos you need to make a decision – to dunk them in milk or not to dunk them in milk. You also need to decide whether to eat the cookie whole or separate it so that you can eat the cream first and the cookie second.

Today’s Oreos require even more decisions. They now come in varieties like ‘double stuf’ and ‘mega stuf’ and have cream flavors that include java chip, peanut butter and mint.

Fun Fact
Oreos are currently available in more than 100 countries.

2. Chips Ahoy!

Year Introduced: 1964
Original Owner: Nabisco
Current Owner: Mondelēz International

Chips Ahoy! chocolate chip cookies may be America’s most popular mass-produced chocolate chip cookie. But they’re not the country’s first chocolate chip cookie. It’s not even close. They debuted more than 25 years after Ruth Wakefield baked her original batch of Toll House chocolate chip cookies.

To make things more complicated, there’s not just one Chips Ahoy! cookie. In addition to the original variety, Chips Ahoy! cookies are available in various mini, chewy and chunky styles. You can even buy them filled with candy bits and rainbow sprinkles.

This is a cookie brand with generational staying power. Chips Ahoy! is now popular with 20-somethings who weren’t even alive in the 1960s.

Fun Fact
Chips Ahoy! cookies were not invented by sailors or pirates despite the cookie brand’s nautical-sounding name.

3. Tate’s Bake Shop

Year Introduced: 2000
Original Owner: Tate’s Bake Shop
Current Owner: Mondelēz International

Tate’s Bake Shop cookies are proof that cookies don’t have to be plump and chewy to taste great. Along with Toll House Cookies, Milk Bar and Pepperidge Farm, they’re also proof that women bakers rock. Even Daryl, who’s a man, agrees that Tate’s thin and crispy chocolate chip cookies are addictively delicious.

While we’re partial to Tate’s chocolate chip cookies, they’re not Tate’s only cookie. Other cookies include butter crunch, coconut crisp, lemon and oatmeal raisin plus gluten-free and vegan cookies.

Originally baked by Kathleen King at her family’s Long Island farm and then later in Southampton, New York, the brand was Kathleen’s Bake Shop until King lost rights to that name due to a business deal that went bad. Fans of happy endings will appreciate that her re-named cookie company was bought by Mondelēz International in 2018 for half a billion dollars.

Fun Fact
Tate’s Bake Shop is named after original owner Kathleen King’s father. (Tate is his nickname.) Had she gone with his given name, Richard, the company’s moniker wouldn’t have the same panache.

4. Nilla Wafers

Year Introduced: 1898
Original Owner: Nabisco
Current Owner: Mondelēz International

Originally called Vanilla Wafers by inventor Gustav Mayer and Nabisco, America’s most popular wafer cookie kept the vanilla flavor but lost the ‘v’ and ‘a’ in 1967. In other words, most current Nilla Wafer fans never knew the cookie by its original name.

Nilla Wafers are most commonly used in banana pudding recipes. However, savvy home bakers know that the cookie is a versatile ingredient, appearing in a range of other dessert recipes including pies, dips and parfaits.

Fun Fact
Nilla Wafers are currently produced with ‘artificial flavor and natural flavor’ which we hope and assume includes actual vanilla.

5. Famous Amos

Year Introduced: 1975
Original Owner: Wally “Famous” Amos
Current Owner: Ferrero SpA

A former talent agent and black entrepreneur, Wally Amos hit the big time when he turned his family’s chocolate chip recipe into a Los Angeles business in 1975. It didn’t take long for Amos to transform the Sunset Boulevard cookie shop into to a top American cookie brand. Was Amos’ quick success due to his uniquely crispy cookies or his flamboyant personality? After meeting him in the 1980s and eating more than a few of his cookies, Mindi is certain that the answer is both.

Wally Amos’ cookies have remained famous among cookie connoisseurs years after he sold the company. Famous Amos cookies have a crispy texture which differentiates them from most other mass-market cookies. Plus, they’re bite-sized, which makes them extra fun to eat.

Fun Fact
Famous Amos flavors have gone global with ingredients inspired by Belgium, the Mediterranean, the Philippines and the UK.

6. Barnum’s Animals Crackers

Year Introduced: 1902
Original Owner: Nabisco
Current Owner: Mondelēz International

Nabisco started selling animal crackers more than a century ago. A key inspiration came from animal-shaped biscuits baked by British bakers. Another inspiration came from P.T. Barnum, the American showman of circus fame. Our only question – why are they called crackers instead of cookies? After all, everybody knows that animal crackers are actually cookies.

In a move against animal cruelty, the Barnum’s Animals Crackers box changed in 2018 and now features free roaming animals. The cages are gone. The box also lost the string and now features a paper handle. But traditionalists fear not – Barnum’s Animals Crackers are still shaped like animals and they still satisfy the flavor cravings of kids of all ages from sea to shining sea.

Fun Fact
Shirley Temple sang Animal Crackers in My Soup in the 1935 movie Curly Top. Both the song and movie are classics.

7. Entenmann’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Year Introduced: 1972
Original Owner: Entemann’s
Current Owner: Grupo Bimbo

William Entenmann didn’t sell chocolate chip cookies when he opened his Flatbush (Brooklyn) bakery in 1898. Instead, he sold bread loaves and buttery pound cakes before moving the family business to Long Island. It was the next Entenmann generation that introduced see-through boxes and added chocolate chip cookies to the menu. That generation also transformed the family bakery into a national business before selling it for beaucoup bucks in 1978.

Frank Sinatra was reportedly a fan of Entenmann’s crumb coffee cake back in the day while others swear by the company’s cakey donuts, however, we’re partial to the company’s bite-sized chocolate chip cookies. We’re not alone. Soft and loaded with chocolate chips, Entenmann’s original chocolate chip cookies are the company’s most popular cookie product.

Fun Fact
Buy a copy of Entenmann’s Big Book of Baking if you love these cookies and want to bake a similar version at home.

8. Lorna Doone Shortbread Cookies

Year Introduced: 1912
Original Owner: Nabisco
Current Owner: Mondelēz International

If you’re wondering which Lorna Doone (the book or the cookie) came first, that answer is easy. R.D. Blackmore published his iconic book in 1869 and the shortbread cookies didn’t hit the market for another 40+ years. And, although the book and cookies share a name, they don’t actually have a lot in common.

Lorna Doone (the book) is an exciting historical romance set in England while Lorna Doone cookies are buttery, square-shaped shortbread cookies that channel shortbread cookies baked in Scotland. Some people eat them straight out of the box while others dip them in tea or coffee. While we’re on team dunk, how you eat Lorna Doone cookies is up to you.

Fun Fact
Despite their ties to the UK, the Lorna Doone cookie recipe was created by Irish immigrants living in Chicago.

9. Nutter Butters

Year Introduced: 1969
Original Owner: Nabisco
Current Owner: Mondelēz International

Nutter Butters aren’t the most popular American sandwich cookie. That honor goes to the Oreo (see above). However, it’s easily the most popular American sandwich cookie that’s shaped like a peanut and made with real peanut butter. However, don’t get too excited.

Not only are many Nutter Butters now round, but the popular peanut butter cookie contains ingredients like corn syrup and hydrogenated vegetable oil in addition to roasted peanuts. The cookie still tastes good anyway.

Fun Fact
Nutter Butter Double Nutty cookies have twice as much cream filling as regular Nutter Butters cookies.

10. Milano Cookies

Year Introduced: 1957
Original Owner: Pepperidge Farm
Current Owner: Campbell’s

You might think that Milano cookies hail from Italy, which would make sense since Milano (i.e. Milan) is Italy’s second largest city, however, you’d be wrong. Instead, the oblong cookie was created in Connecticut as part of Pepperidge Farm’s Distinctive cookie line. Inspired by founder Margaret Rudkin’s trip to Europe, most of the cookies in this line are named after European cities like Bordeaux, Brussels, Dublin, Geneva, Naples, Verona, Zurich and (of course) Milan.

We remember when there were just two Milano flavors – original dark chocolate and chocolate plus mint. Times have certainly changed. There are currently 13 Milano flavors on the market. What hasn’t changed is how much we enjoy eating the popular sandwich cookie, especially in its original dark chocolate format.

Fun Fact
In addition to dark chocolate and mint, Milano flavors include caramel macchiato, coconut, dark chocolate sea salt, double dark chocolate, double milk chocolate, milk chocolate, orange, pumpkin spice (seasonal), raspberry, strawberry and toasted marshmallow.

11. Chessmen Cookies

Year Introduced: Unknown
Original Owner: Pepperidge Farm
Current Owner: Campbell’s

Chessmen cookies aren’t typical butter cookies for two reasons. First, they’re square instead of round. And, more important, the sweet, buttery cookies are adorned with images of chess pieces like knights, queens and kings.

Despite the non-city name, Chessman cookies are part of Pepperidge Farm’s Distinctive cookie line. We assume that the cookies were inspired by either Danish butter cookies or Scottish shortbread but we’re not really sure.

Fun Fact
Butter is indeed included in this butter cookie’s ingredients.

12. Newtons

Year Introduced: 1891
Original Owner: F. A. Kennedy Steam Bakery
Current Owner: Mondelēz International

Don’t look for Fig Newtons at your local store. That name, which dates back to 1892 when the fig-filled cookie debuted in Boston, bit the dust in 2012.

The iconic rectangular cookies are now simply called Newtons and don’t always have fig fillings. (Some Newtons are filled with strawberry paste.) However, despite the new name and filling options, these rolled cookies will always be Fig Newtons to us.

Fun Fact
The Newton website has a range of recipes featuring the fig-filled cookie as a main ingredient.

13. Chips Deluxe Cookies

Year Introduced: Unknown
Original Owner: Keebler
Current Owner: Ferrero SpA

The Keebler elves have kept busy despite the sale of the Keebler company to various entities including current owner Ferrero SpA. In fact, according to the company website, the industrious elves craft each Soft Batch Chips Deluxe cookie in a tree and bake them in a magic oven. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to take tour of that factory?!

Magic elves jokes aside, Chips Deluxe cookies are sold in flavors that include Coconut, Dipped DUOS, Fudgy and M&Ms. While those flavors are surely good, we’re partial to the company’s Soft Batch Chips Deluxe cookies which taste great without any extras.

Fun Fact
A limited-edition Keebler Chips Deluxe Birthday Cake cookies flavor hit grocery shelves in 2020. Not currently available, those cookies were filled with milk chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and sprinkles.

14. Fudge Stripes Cookies

Year Introduced: 1975
Original Owner: Keebler
Current Owner: Ferrero SpA

Fudge Stripes cookies live up to the hype since each ring-shaped cookie is topped with, you guessed it, fudge stripes. But those stripes are only part of the shortbread cookie’s story since the entire cookie bottom is coated with fudge. You’d think that would be enough but no.

In an effort to make a good thing better, Keebler introduced Whoopsy! Fudge Stripes cookies in 2018 and Fudge Stripes Minis Dip’mmms four years after that. Both variations take the cookie’s concept further. The first cookie is fully coated with fudge and the second cookie is paired with marshmallow frosting.

Fun Fact
Keebler Whoopsy! Fudge Stripes don’t have any stripes.

15. Sugar Wafers

Year Invented: Unknown
Original Owner: Keebler
Current Owner: Ferrero SpA

Europeans have been eating Neapolitan wafers layered with hazelnut cream since 1898 when Josef Manner started selling Manner Wafers in Vienna. More than a century later, Manner Wafers are sold in countries around the world including the USA.

While you can make an effort to buy Manner Wafers at specialty markets, you can also buy Keebler’s Sugar Wafers at a local convenience store or supermarkets instead. Keebler also sells Fudge Sticks which are essentially sugar wafers coated with chocolate.

Fun Fact
Keebler’s three Sugar Wafer flavors (chocolate, vanilla and strawberry) mirror the three flavors typically included in Neapolitan ice cream packages. Voortman Bakery goes even further by selling lemon, raspberry and peanut butter wafer cookies.

16. Grandma’s Jumbo Cookies

Year Introduced: 1914 (estimated)
Original Owner: Grandma’s Cookies
Current Owner: Frito-Lay

Fans of Grandma’s cookies might be surprised to learn that the the Portland cookie company was founded in 1914 by a man, Foster Wheeler, who clearly wasn’t a grandma. They might also be surprised to learn that Frito-Lay (yes, the chips company) bought the company in 1980 and turned it into the well-known brand that it is today.

However, cookie fans won’t be surprised to learn that Grandma’s jumbo-sized cookies come in multiple flavors that include brownie, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and peanut butter. Many of these fans will also agree that Grandma’s cookies taste great.

Fun Fact
Each Grandma’s cookie package contains two jumbo cookies.

17. Grandma’s Sandwich Cookies

Year Introduced: 1914 (estimated)
Original Owner: Grandma’s Cookies
Current Owner: Frito-Lay

Like many of our generation, we grew up eating cream-filled chocolate Oreo and Hydrox sandwich cookies. The thought of eating non-chocolate sandwich cookies didn’t occur to us back then. Today is a different story. Not only is Hydrox practically obsolete, but shoppers can now buy a variety of sandwich cookie flavors beyond chocolate.

Case in point – Grandma’s sells two sandwich cookie flavors and neither is chocolate. Instead, the two flavors are vanilla and peanut butter.

Fun Fact
You can buy a Grandmas Cookies Variety Tray from Amazon if you can’t choose between the company’s jumbo cookies or its sandwich cookies.

18. Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies

Year Introduced: 1960
Original Owner: McKee Foods Corporation
Current Owner: McKee Foods Corporation

Surprise – the Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie isn’t actually a pie. Instead, it’s a jumbo oatmeal cookie sandwich with cream in the middle. It’s also Little Debbie’s signature product, outselling the company’s Cosmic Brownie, Nutty Bar, Swiss Cake Roll and Zebra Cake.

O.D. McKee created the Oatmeal Creme Pie in Chattanooga during the 1930s but he didn’t sell his creation nationally until 1960 when the Little Debbie brand was formed. His pie that’s actually a cookie achieved immediate success and has remained popular to this day.

Fun Fact
The real-life little Debbie was the granddaughter of O.D. and Ruth McKee.

19. Milk Bar Cookies

Year Introduced: 2020
Original Owner: Milk Bar
Current Owner: Milk Bar

Milk Bar rocketed to fame in 2008 when the NYC bakery opened thanks to Christina Tosi’s burgeoning fame and menu items like cereal milk ice cream, crack pie (now called milk bar pie) and compost cookies baked with chocolate chips, pretzels, potato chips, graham crackers, coffee, oats, and butterscotch. For years, crowds queued for those treats as well as the bakery’s bite-sized cake truffles.

It became easier to buy Milk Bar creations once the bakery starting distributing its products nationally in 2020. Savvy shoppers can now buy a range of ice creams, bite-size cookies and truffle crumb cakes at grocery stores around the country and online.

Fun Fact
Milk Bar sells flavored cookie dough that you can bake at home.

20. Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding Cookies

Year Introduced: 2023
Original Owner: Magnolia Bakery
Current Owner: Magnolia Bakery

Magnolia Bakery may be new to much of America but it’s far from a new operation. The bakery has been selling cupcakes, full-sized cakes, brownies, cookies and banana pudding in New York City since 1996. And, in a fun twist, the bakery launched a line of packaged banana pudding cookies in 2023.

Made with real butter, real bananas, real chocolate and crunchy vanilla wafers, Magnolia Bakery’s premium-priced cookies currently come in three flavors – classic vanilla, classic vanilla with white chocolate chips and confetti with white chocolate chips. Each box has four jumbo-sized cookies.

Fun Fact
Magnolia Bakery’s banana pudding cookies are a good grab-and-go option since each cookie is individually wrapped.

American Cookies Selection

Image: ©2foodtrippers

Frequently Asked Questions

What are American cookies?

American cookies are cookies which are baked, sold and/or eaten in the United States.

What is the most popular cookie brand in America?

The Oreo is the most popular cookie brand in America.

What is America’s best cookie brand?

The best American cookie brands sell chocolate chip cookies, sandwich cookies and even banana pudding cookies. The only way to find your favorite brand is to taste them all.

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About The Authors

About The Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.

Disclosures

Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

Funding
We purchased and tasted all cookies featured in this article.

Original Publication Date: January 7, 2024

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