Monday, April 25, 2011

What we know so far

I'm feeling the need for a round-up of what we've learned through the experiments and from what people have said they remember.

Flour: Definitely whole wheat. Possibility of other kinds of flour, but John tried a 'five whole grain flour,' and did not like the taste. Definitely no rice or soy flour. Not spelt flour, which was not commercially available until around 2006.
Eggs: Definitely; and definitely in greater amounts than in the typical cookie.
Sweetening: Some molasses, but probably not in syrup form; more likely some kind of less-refined sugar. Iris and Claire both remember that Ted Odell changed the sweetener during the time he baked the cookie. Iris remembers brown sugar in the original ingredients list, with honey added later. Claire clearly remembers when Odell substituted barley malt syrup for some other sweetener in the early 1980s.
Milk: Definitely. Could have been either liquid or powder. Whey has not yet been ruled in or out.
Oil: No good conclusions so far; could have been any kind of vegetable oil or butter. Maybe flax seed oil. Canola oil wasn't developed until 1978.
Leavening (baking soda or powder): No.

Spices: Nothing in any significant amount. Maybe a little cinnamon. Definitely not nutmeg.
Raisins: Donna is adamant that there were no raisins; but when chopped up, they seem so right to the rest of us, for both taste and moisture. I agree with Donna, though, at least on the visual: even chopped up, the raisins just look wrong to me.
Nuts: Definitely. Walnuts, ground or finely chopped. Not almonds or peanuts.
Sesame seeds: Almost certainly.
Sunflower seeds: Probably.
Wheat germ: Probably.
Cracked wheat or bulghur: Probably.
Flax seeds: Deb commented with her specific memory that there was flax seed something. Oil? Meal? Whole seeds?
Oatmeal: Probably, but could have been barley. Barley flakes look like oatmeal, and I like what they did to the taste.
Brewer's Yeast: Not enough to affect the taste; I doubt it.
Millet: The grains look so right, but are just too hard. No.
Figs: The seeds look right, but the flavor is wrong. No.
Soy: No. Not oil, flour, or granules.
Corn meal: Definitely not.
Peanut butter: Definitely not.

Additional memories or suggestions? I cannot figure out how to make the comment box always visible, so click on the words that say how many comments have been made so far, below, to make a comment box appear.


  1. This is Iris. I wish I had seen this post before I gave it another try just now. I really regret using soda again. That has a bitter aftertaste, and none of your recipes use it. I definitely needed more milk, and I would have tried the barley flakes..indeed I think that the ingredients are right that you list above (definitely NO PEANUT BUTTER, and I like the millet, just not so much of it) -but the proportions are just not right yet. When I add more eggs, I get a cake-like cookie that definitely seems like the wrong texture. I will try your recipe 78 next... I have only made four batches in total, so I still have a ways to go to match your enthusiasm!-Iris

  2. Iris, thanks! I forgot that peanut butter is often assumed to be an ingredient, but we now know it just does not taste right. I'm going to edit my original post to add that.

  3. My sister just showed me this blog the other day. She and I have been looking for the Guerrilla Cookies almost since the days we graduated from UW (79/80). As a web developer and hobbiest cook, I have long considered some sort of site like this myself. Reverse engineering comes to the Guerrilla Cookie.

    I’m definitely going to experiment with these recipes.

    I’ve always thought that one of my mother’s cookie recipes (Pineapple/Walnut) had some of the texture and flavor of Guerilla Cookies. Like most of the recipes here, her recipe calls for brown sugar. But has anyone considered using fruit juice as an additional sweetener. My mother’s recipe calls for crushed pineapple (and some of the liquid). I suppose it’s a long shot, but the pineapple itself also adds a “chewiness” to her cookie.

    It’s seems that everyone is pretty much in agreement on Walnuts and my mothers recipe does indeed contain walnuts, but her recipe calls for “Black Walnuts if you can find them”. I have trouble finding them in San Francisco, but Black Walnut Trees are native to southern Wisconsin, and the last time I recall seeing Black Walnuts commonly for sale was at the Capitol Square Farmer’s Market during the latter half of the seventies.

    It sounds like my recollection is similar to everyone else’s here, however I am convinced that those must have been millet seeds. And to my recollection, the cookies definitely did not contain raisins. On the other hand memories can be deceiving.

    Does anyone have any photos of the original Guerrilla Cookie?


  4. Hi, Patrick! Welcome!

    As you can see from the dates on these posts, our blog-based, reverse-engineering project is slow, but it's slow progress, so I'm glad you found it. The more people we have doing experiments and sharing results, the less any one of us will have to gain unnecessary weight!

    Thanks for your specific recollection about raisins; I think that cinches it for me. I won't use them in any more of my trials.

    And just for fun, how about sharing your grandmother's Pineapple Walnut Cookie recipe? Sounds good!

  5. Oops, Patrick--I meant your mother's recipe.

    About walnuts: I just googled walnuts and found out some interesting stuff I did not know. English walnuts are the kind we all probably buy in the store. Black walnuts are harder to open, stain clothing, and have a stronger taste, and so are not as available. White walnuts are from the west--California--are commonly called 'butternuts.' (

    Black walnuts sound like they could be good, so I'll look at the Farmer's Market and see if if I find them for sale. I'm guessing, though, that even though they are grown in Wisconsin, it's more likely Odell used the cheaper, more bulk-available English walnuts. Currently, you can get English walnuts for $7.99/lb, while black walnuts go for $13.99/lb. (

  6. In doing a google search for Guerilla cookie, I came across an application for a trademark that was submitted by Elegant Foods LLC It was then abandoned.


    Have you tried to make the Adelle Davis 'Tiger Milk' that was posted on this website?

    I plan on trying both tomorrow. Will post my results.

    Thanks for keeping this alive.

  7. Interesting! I'd visited that website, but must have done so before the recipe was posted, or maybe I did not scroll down far enough to see it: 1 cup milk; 1/3 ripe banana; 1/4 cup milk powder; 1 or 2 tablespoons brewer's yeast; 2 tablespoons wheat germ.

    I'd tried brewer's yeast in my guerrilla trials, and even a little seemed to throw the taste off. Bananas, though, that's a thought.

    I'm eager to hear how your attempt turns out!

  8. Turns out the labor in Labor Day really means chores (that have been put off for a long time). uggh. So I didn't get to play in the kitchen. But I'll report as soon as I do.

  9. Have been scanning through you blog today as we had a mention of guerilla cookies and I wondered about the recipe.

    I recall them as being darker than your pictures (I was in Madison 73-87 but ate them mostly while on campus 73-78), but you are right on about the shininess of the top. Have you considered using powdered eggs instead of whole eggs? I remember the cookies as not being particularly sweet and always better with a glass of milk. I will give #78 a try. These opinions are expressed just as a rememberence. I pretty much agree with your, no peanut butter or levening.

  10. Powdered eggs! Another good idea. And they would provide the protein heft without much liquid.

    In addition, powdered eggs fit with the small, single-purpose bakery that Ted Odell is said to have had. I keep trying to picture things a relative amateur might have done or not done to produce so many cookies from such a small bakery. Powdered eggs would fit right into the kind of bakery I imagine he must have run.

    I'm going to return to kitchen trials, I hope, after the holidays. Guerrilla cookies can go a lot of places, but not onto a holiday tray with spritz wreaths and rum bon-bons.

  11. I'd say peanut butter yes. And something small and crunchy/seedy. I'd thought maybe millet but not sure.