Follow the recipe

July 20, 2019


The Boston Cooking School Cookbook
Author: Fanny Farmer
c. 1896

Cookbooks began to gain in popularity in the latter half of the 19th century due to higher literacy rates, the lower cost of printing, and the emerging middle class with more disposable income.


Fanner Farmer trained at the Boston Cooking School, where she noticed the lack of consistency for recipes. At the time, recipes called for amounts such as “butter the size of an egg” or “a teacup full of flour”. Farmer wanted cooking to be more uniform and scientific. If directions were followed correctly, a recipe should come out the same each time.


When The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook was published, Farmer included several new ideas. She used exact, standardized measurements such as 2/3 teaspoon and 1 ½ cups. Farmer included information about nutrition and a healthy diet. The cookbook was an instant hit, selling over 300,000 copies during Farmer’s lifetime.