Last week, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that she had a craving for the cheese rolls that our high school cafeteria sold in the mornings and during passing period. That made me remember the big flat chocolate chip cookies — greasy with shortening, a little underbaked, and only 50 cents (or was it 25?). It’s funny, because when it comes to school food — public school, anyway — there isn’t much that anyone remembers fondly. It’s easier to remember the horrors that the cafeteria churned out — ever heard of a taco snak (yes, s-n-a-k) burrito?
Cookies may be one of the few stand outs generation-to-generation. As I was digging around for cornflake cookie recipes, I came across a LA Unified School District recipe from the 50’s for Ranger cookies, also called Flying Saucers. Now, I’ve seen recipes for Ranger cookies before — some with dried fruit, so they’re a little more trail mix-y. But this one’s got cornflakes, coconut and walnuts. The cornflakes, coconut and oats seem to be the common elements. The variables include chocolate chips, dried fruit, pecans and Rice Crispies. You can see I went for the chips and ditched the walnuts.
A couple of notes:
1. I halved the original recipe. Luckily, all the measurements halve easily, so it was low risk. I made half in their “flying saucer” size w/ the Oxo scoop (it doesn’t have a number – a 1/3 c. measure would probably do about the same), and flattening them w/ the palm of my hand before baking. I did the rest in a more regular drop cookie size – no flattening.
2. They do spread – so, if you’re doing the flying saucer size, I would do 6 on jelly roll size baking sheet and give them space.
3. If you want a big flat chocolate chip cookie, this one by YA author Maggie Stiefvater is a good one.
If you’re interested, you can take a walk down school cafeteria memory lane in this Chowhound thread. School Lunch, a book detailing how to run a school lunch program, with recipes, was published in 1962 and is posted in its entirety on Archive.org.