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  • Writer's pictureSusan Welsh

RIP Nabisco Famous Wafer, Long Live the Ice Box Cake



The Ice Box Cake has been a celebratory dessert tradition for many families for decades. Years ago, I was lucky enough to discover Ina Garten’s iteration, one that elevates the recipe by incorporating Kahlua, mascarpone, cocoa, and espresso powder into the whipped cream icing. Ina uses Tate’s Chocolate Chip cookies in her cake, but I have ALWAYS remained true to Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers—until the company confirmed, in February of 2023, that they were discontinuing them.


Of course, I signed the petition to bring them back, but I also had to scramble to find a substitute for the iconic wafer when my mother requested, this week, that I make the cake for a dinner with our dear, long-time friends Jim and Amy Swain.



A quick Google search suggests some substitutes for the chocolate wafer—all of which I will try, but my first available choice— Dewey’s Bakery Brownie Crisp cookies-- yielded delicious results. While smaller in size than the Nabisco, it is a cookie with deeper chocolate flavor and ABSENT the high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavor found in the Nabisco wafer.



If my endorsement of the Dewey’s isn’t enough for you, consider the fact that it made Oprah’s “O list”, the veritable gold standard of creme de la creme products on the market. But I digress. The history of the cookie itself is an interesting one. Dewey’s Bakery gained recognition for its Moravian Cookies, a thin, crisp style of cookie created by, and named for, the Moravians—a group of immigrants who left their home country of Moravia (now the Czech Republic), seeking religious freedom, and settling primarily in the areas of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Winston-Salem, North Carolina (home of Dewey’s).



Kudos go to the fourth-grade class in Greensboro who, on a field trip to the state Capitol, were so inspired by a mural of state symbols there, that they campaigned to make the Moravian cookie the state cookie of NC, resulting in the Moravian Cookie Bill, which passed the state House by a vote of 114-0 and now awaits senate approval. For more on this process, watch the best primer ever created to understand the process.



This episode aired in September of 1975, which in unrelated, but interesting cookie news, was the same year Famous (Wally) Amos opened his first cookie store on Sunset Boulevard.

Also, interesting to note, in 1980 Kathleen King, would sell her chocolate chip cookies off of a fold-out table on her parents’ Long Island farmstead, eventually renting a space to open Tate’s Bake Shop. Fast forward to 2018, when Mondelez (parent company of Nabisco and the now defunct Chocolate Wafer) acquired Tate’s for 528 million dollars.


The cookie comes full circle, and the icebox cake, king of no-bake desserts, courts a new cookie, or really several, if you’re willing to experiment. Please do, and let me know which one you love best!
















































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