The whole thing actually started when I was a kid. Back in Racine, Wisconsin
where I grew up. Racine, for some reason, was where the headquarters of Horlick's Malted Milk was located. It's also where my Dad worked as the Director of Purchasing. We had a lot of malt in our house.
An English immigrant named William Horlick invented
malted milk back around 1912. First, he called it
"Diastoid". Obviously not a marketing guy. Then he
decided to call it malted milk. Good decision.
At any rate, there were lots of malted milk shakes in
our house. There were no shake shakes. Shakes were
something you made when you ran out of malt. Which
we never did. Not allowed.
The basic recipe for a malted milk shake at our house went something like
this - whole milk, a raw egg, coupla scoops of vanilla ice cream and some fruit
(in our case usually a banana, though strawberries worked in Summer), coupla
heaping spoonfuls of Horlick's Malted Milk, then hit the blender button on
our old Hamilton Beach blender (I think there were two speeds). Voila! A Malt!
Fast forward some forty years. I'd had a long career in the consumer food business and had developed a lot of products for other people. Never for myself. During that time, malt and malt shops had all but disappeared from the American landscape. Mostly due to McDonald's (they only made shakes, not malts), suburbia and the disappearance of downtown pharmacies with soda fountains. Horlick's, in the USA, had gone out of business (and my Dad landed on his feet with a good job). But, a form our old malt recipe was about to accidentally resurface.
I make a decent macaroon. In the middle of the macaroon I place a Hershey's
Kiss. One afternoon, I was getting the ingredients and when I looked on the
grocery shelf to get a package of Kisses, I saw a box of Whoppers. I thought
that putting a Whopper on top of each cookie, instead of the Kiss, might be worth a try. Then, for some unexplained reason, I thought - Wait a second, Whoppers...malt...cookie... how come there's not a malted milk cookie? Wham, bam...change of plan.
I went home, my wife Debra and I mixed up some basic chocolate chip dough (without the chips), threw in some powdered malted milk (Carnation still makes it) and went, hmmm...not bad. Needs work, but not bad.
My good friend Edward, an educator and financial specialist, had, I knew, also
spent the first bunch of years after college working in an artisan bakery. The guy can bake. I told him about the idea, his eyes lit up and...a couple hundred or so bakes later, and after some burnt fingers, singed eyebrows, enough dough to fill a rock quarry and a healthy variety of vernacular expressions ...we had a pretty decent malted milk cookie.