The 1893 World’s Fair

In 1893, Grover Cleveland began serving his second term as U.S. president, Lizzie Borden was acquitted of the murder of her parents, and the World’s Columbian Exposition opened in Chicago.

Three life size reproductions of Christopher Columbus’s ships were unveiled to celebrate the 400th year anniversary of his famous voyage. The popular dancer, Little Egypt, put on daily shows in her skimpy attire. And the first moving sidewalk made an appearance.

Several products and inventions made their debut at the Exposition. The first ferris wheel, Juicy Fruit gum, shredded wheat, Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, and cream of wheat were on that list. But it was the introduction of the delectable brownie that stole the show.

It happened when Chicago socialite and philanthropist Bertha Palmer instructed the pastry chefs at her husband’s hotel, the Palmer House, to create a dessert that could fit inside the box lunches for ladies at the fair and that could be eaten without a mess. Thus, the humble chocolate brownie was born.


Fondness for the dessert quickly spread. And in 1896, Fannie Farmer included the brownie recipe in her Boston Cooking School Cook Book.

I can’t think of any dessert that’s more versatile. It can be made plain or with icing, with nuts, fruit bits, and any number of things, whatever strikes your fancy. The brownie became the trademark dessert of the Palmer House and is still served today.

Here is the original brownie recipe:

Chocolate Fudge Brownies from the Palmer House Hilton

  • 3 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 cups chopped walnut pieces



1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoons apricot preserves


Preheat oven to 325 F. Melt chocolate and butter in a glass bowl set over simmering water. Sift together flour, sugar, and baking powder. Stir chocolate mixture into flour mixture. Whisk in eggs. Pour into a 12 x 9 inch baking pan. Sprinkle walnuts on top, pressing slightly into batter. Bake 40 minutes, or until the edges become slightly crisp and the brownie has risen about ¼ inch. (Even when the brownie is properly baked, it will test gooey with a toothpick in the center.) Let cool 30 minutes. For glaze, combine water and preserves in a medium saucepan, whisking well. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Boil 2 minutes. Using a pastry brush, pat glaze over brownies. Place brownies in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours. Remove and let stand 10 minutes and slice.


I tend to make the same kind—walnut brownies. I might get adventuresome though. I think an apricot glaze on these would be delicious. But then I love apricots. What kind of brownies are your favorite?

I’ll be traveling home today from Fort Worth’s famous Stockyards so I can’t answer comments until I get back. Next time I’ll have a lot of pictures and stories from my adventures with my sister, Jan.

Until next time……….


The 1893 World’s Fair — 14 Comments

  1. What a fun fact filled post! I didn’t know much about the Exposition, but now I want to know more just like when I read historical romance and learn such fun things reading them! Thanks for sharing. I need to make these brownies ASAP!!

    • Hi Cathie……..There is nothing like a note from an old friend. Thanks for coming. The history of brownies was interesting to me so I figured it might be to others as well. This dessert has been a mainstay in homes for generations and I can’t imagine it ever not being. It was certainly revolutionary back in the day. I hope you’re doing well.

      Love you, dear friend.

  2. I enjoy a good Brownie with fresh strawberries, and chocolate chip ice cream. That is a lot of sugar for me, so most times, it is a good Brownie alone.
    Now I am hungry for brownies 🙂

    • Hi Veda! I’m happy to see you. Yes, fresh strawberries would make it extra delicious! Go make you some brownies.

      Much love and hugs!

  3. Good morning Linda- I’m so glad you finally got to go to the Fort Worth Stockyards. It’s an amazing place.
    It’s funny you talked about brownies. While I was a my sister in laws this weekend she made some of the best brownies I’ve ever ate. It’s a very unusual and easy recipe.
    Mix 1 box of instant chocolate pudding according to recipe.
    Then put a box of Devils food cake mix in (just the cake mix) and stir up, then add 1 cup of chocolate chips and mix read good.
    Pour into pan and bake 350 for 30 minutes or until done. Those were the best brownies other than my mom’s homemade ones I’ve ever eating.
    Can’t wait to hear about your trip. Love you sister friend and safe travels.

    • Hi, Miss Tonya…….We were sure thinking alike. I would love to try your sister-in-law’s version. I can only imagine how good they are. And so easy. I’m all about easy!! I’m praying for your brother-in-law. You have a blessed week, sister friend!

      Love you dearly!

  4. Oh my very interesting recipe! I’ll have to give it a shot sometime!

  5. It must have been a weekend to think about and make brownies. I made a cheater brownie and I almost watched the Lizzue Borden movie on Netflix too. Talk about coincidences! I used the fudge like brownie recipe on the back of the back of the Duncan Hines chewy fudge brownie mix and a couple spoons of Hershey’s carmel topping on top after the mix is put into the pan and swirl it in to the top of the brownie and them top with pecans and bake as directed on the box. Yummy. Crazy that all this came up on your blog! Great mindsthink alike I reckon!!

    • I too love fudge kind not cake like brownies. I think that’s why I loved my SIL’s recipe.

    • Hi, Miss Stephanie………Our minds were definitely in sync! Wow. Amazing. And the Lizzie Borden movie! Goodness. Your thoughts and mine were buzzing along together to the point of craziness. Have a blessed week, my friend!

      Love you dearly!

  6. I use a box mix of Duncan Hines the fudge brownie one and use buttermilk for the water in it and real butter in place of oil and I cook in a 9×13 pan which makes them kinda thin I then top with a thinned down version of my fudge that I mix up that includes cocoa, confectioners sugar, butter and milk I have never measured any of it I just mix til it tastes right Lol anyway I made some of these brownies here recently and my daughter in law said they were the best brownies she had ever ate. Of course she could have been being nice since she’s fairly new to the family But my son came back wanting more of the that last batch I made and my hubs ate them and he tries to avoid sweets since his elevated sugar levels. But anyway I will have to try this homemade recipe on them next time I make brownies

    • Hi, Miss Glenda……..I’ve never make brownies with buttermilk but I can only imagine what a unique taste that would give them. I’m going to have to try this. Thanks! You have a great week full of love and blessings!

      Love you dearly!

    • Hi, Lydia! Thank you so much for stopping by. I love to post historical tidbits on here about whatever I discover of interest. Like you, I didn’t know brownies went back so far. Now it makes me wonder what’s coming out now that future generations will be astounded by.

      Have a blessed week!