Deborah Peralta - July 20 2023

Who Invented Brownies?
 Unravelling the Sweet Legacy of Bertha Palmer

Palmer House Brownies

The Palmer House Brownie circa 2019 - image by Dello Mano

Welcome to an enthralling journey into the origins of one of the most beloved desserts in history - brownies. While the true inventor of brownies has been the subject of debate, one fascinating tale stands out - the remarkable story of Bertha Palmer. Join us as we unveil the life and times of this visionary woman and her role in creating the iconic treat we all love today.

The Life and Times of Bertha Palmer

Born in 1849, Bertha Honore Palmer emerged into a world of opulence and privilege. Raised in Chicago, she belonged to a prominent family known for their affluence and social standing. Even from an early age, Bertha exuded sophistication and charm, characteristics that would later define her as a prominent figure in high society.

Her impeccable taste and discerning eye for style made her renowned as a trendsetter among her peers. Bertha's elegant and lavish parties became the hallmark of Chicago's elite gatherings. It was during these grand events that she showcased her exceptional abilities as a hostess, garnering admiration and respect from all who attended.

Dubbed the "Queen of Chicago," Bertha Palmer's reputation for grace and poise reached far beyond the city's borders. Her prominence in society brought her into contact with notable figures, from politicians and artists to business magnates. As she navigated the world of the elite, her influence and impact grew exponentially.

But it was not only in the realms of fashion and social events where Bertha left her mark. She had a keen interest in the arts and a passion for promoting women's rights. Her dedication to advancing women's roles in society led her to become a prominent advocate for women's education and empowerment.

Bertha's exceptional talents in hosting and event planning caught the attention of many. The hotel's owner, and her husband, Potter Palmer, recognized her innate abilities and allowed Bertha free reign. 

This partnership proved to be transformative for both Bertha and the Palmer House Hotel. Her influence ushered in a new era of luxury and refinement at the hotel, cementing its reputation as one of the finest establishments in the country.

The Gold Doors of the Palmer House Hotel

The grandeur of the gold entrance at the Palmer House Hotel, Chicago - image by Dello Mano

The World's Columbian Exposition and the Birth of Brownies

In 1893, the city of Chicago hosted the World's Columbian Exposition, an extravagant fair celebrating the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the New World. The Exposition presented a golden opportunity for Bertha Palmer to further showcase her talents and vision.The event attracted millions of visitors, including dignitaries, entrepreneurs, and artists from around the globe. To showcase the finest in culture, industry, and cuisine, the organizers sought the expertise of Bertha Palmer to oversee the creation of the Women's Building.

Bertha, a passionate advocate for women's rights and the arts, embraced the opportunity with enthusiasm. As a woman of vision and elegance, she had a clear vision for the Women's Building - a space that would not only celebrate the achievements of women but also showcase their culinary prowess.

It was in this grand setting that the legend of the brownie unfolded. As the story goes, Bertha requested her pastry chef to create a unique and delectable dessert that could be enjoyed by visitors and easily eaten in boxed lunches. The chef, inspired by a recipe from Europe, crafted a delightful confection that was moist, rich, and infused with walnuts for added texture. The "brownie" was born, a dessert perfectly suited to the occasion - a compact, finger-friendly treat that delighted the palates of guests.

The brownie's debut at the World's Columbian Exposition was an instant success, and it quickly gained popularity among visitors and Chicagoans alike. The legacy of this culinary masterpiece had begun, thanks to Bertha Palmer's exquisite taste and influence.

Bertha Palmer's Enduring Legacy at the Palmer House Hilton

The Palmer House Hotel Bar

A very grand bar and foyer at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago - Image by Dello Mano

As the years passed, the Palmer House, owned by Bertha and her husband, Potter Palmer, continued to serve the original brownie recipe crafted at the exposition. The hotel itself, an architectural marvel, stood as a symbol of opulence and grandeur, matching Bertha's own exceptional lifestyle.

The brownie became a signature dessert of the Palmer House, served to distinguished guests and dignitaries, leaving a sweet impression on all who savored it. Even today, the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago proudly preserves Bertha Palmer's legacy. Guests are treated to the same delectable brownies, lovingly crafted according to the century-old recipe. These small brownie gifts serve as tokens of the hotel's commitment to maintaining the grand traditions established by Bertha herself.

A Sweet Legacy Carried Through Generations

Today we're left in awe of Bertha Palmer's remarkable legacy. Her passion for culinary excellence and unwavering commitment to showcasing the finest in cuisine truly makes her the unsung hero behind the invention of brownies. Today, her vision lives on at the Palmer House Hilton, where guests are treated to the same delectable brownie gifts, carrying on a tradition that began more than a century ago. So, the next time you wonder, "who invented brownies?" remember the name Bertha Palmer, the pioneering woman whose influence continues to sweeten our lives today.

Dello Mano Brownies: A Journey of Serendipity and Culinary Reverence to Bertha Palmer's Origins

As we bask in the captivating history of Bertha Palmer and her role in the invention of brownies, let us not forget that this delectable treat has transcended borders and delighted taste buds around the world.

Little did we at Dello Mano know, when we first pioneered brownie gifts in Australia, that years later, we would uncover the intriguing story of Bertha and her contribution to this iconic dessert. Enthralled and mesmerized by this brownie history, we embarked on a pilgrimage to the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, the very place where the brownie was invented. In awe of the grandeur that surrounded us, and standing in the kitchen that birthed the beloved treat, our reverence for Bertha's culinary legacy deepened.

Today, we at Dello Mano craft our brownies with a commitment to quality, using the finest ingredients and in a very unplanned way pay homage to the visionary woman who first brought the brownie to life. Just like Bertha's dedication to culinary excellence, Dello Mano's passion for perfecting the art of brownie-making elevates this timeless dessert to new heights, offering an irresistible indulgence that connects the rich past with the delightful present.

Browse Australia's Leading Brownie Collection:

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A chocolate gift box with gold foiled brownies that say Dello Mano on the label.  Another box sits on top, this one closed with red ribbon that also says Dello Mano. the ribbon has a Christmas motif.
An open chocolate gift box of gold individually wrapped Brownie cubes. The box has words saying Dello Mano and there is an open foil brownie on top of the box.
16 pieces of gold foiled Classic Brownie in a  beautiful striped Chocolate gift box. The box has Dello Mano written on it. The lid is off the box and is tied with brownie ribbon
16 pieces of gold foiled Classic Brownies in an open  chocolate gift box. The words Dello Mano are on the gift box and the lid sits open on top
An open Brownie Chocolate gift box showing gold individually wrapped Brownie cubes. The side of the box is striped and sits on a concrete counter top
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Chocolate Gift Box of Luxury Brownie - Signature Classic

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A chocolate gift box with gold foiled brownies that say Dello Mano on the label.  Another box sits on top, this one closed with red ribbon that also says Dello Mano. the ribbon has a Christmas motif.
An open chocolate gift box of gold individually wrapped Brownie cubes. The box has words saying Dello Mano and there is an open foil brownie on top of the box.
16 pieces of gold foiled Classic Brownie in a  beautiful striped Chocolate gift box. The box has Dello Mano written on it. The lid is off the box and is tied with brownie ribbon
16 pieces of gold foiled Classic Brownies in an open  chocolate gift box. The words Dello Mano are on the gift box and the lid sits open on top
An open Brownie Chocolate gift box showing gold individually wrapped Brownie cubes. The side of the box is striped and sits on a concrete counter top
The stylish Brownie Gift Box presents our delicious  chocolate morsels in  a way that says quality and style.
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Classic gold foil brownie cubes in a striped chocolate gift box that says Dello Mano. An open foil brownie sits on top
Nine individually foiled brownie cubes in a striped gift box with the words Dello Mano. The lid sits open with a brown ribbon tie that also says Dello Mano
A chocolate gift box with gold foiled brownies that say Dello Mano on the label.  Another box sits on top, this one closed with red ribbon that also says Dello Mano. the ribbon has a Christmas motif.
An open chocolate gift box of gold individually wrapped Brownie cubes. The box has words saying Dello Mano and there is an open foil brownie on top of the box.
16 pieces of gold foiled Classic Brownie in a  beautiful striped Chocolate gift box. The box has Dello Mano written on it. The lid is off the box and is tied with brownie ribbon
16 pieces of gold foiled Classic Brownies in an open  chocolate gift box. The words Dello Mano are on the gift box and the lid sits open on top
An open Brownie Chocolate gift box showing gold individually wrapped Brownie cubes. The side of the box is striped and sits on a concrete counter top
The stylish Brownie Gift Box presents our delicious  chocolate morsels in  a way that says quality and style.
Luxury Brownie Gift Box Cross Selection of foiled Brownie cubes . The brown chocolate box has the words Dello Mano
Classic gold foil brownie cubes in a striped chocolate gift box that says Dello Mano. An open foil brownie sits on top
Nine individually foiled brownie cubes in a striped gift box with the words Dello Mano. The lid sits open with a brown ribbon tie that also says Dello Mano

Chocolate Gift Box of Luxury Brownie - Signature Classic

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The Dello Mano Chocolate Brownie Gift Box is a beautifully presented brown and cream striped box finished with and gross grain ribbon embroidered with Dello Mano logo.
A mixed box of brownies with colourful foils. The chocolate gift box has the lid open and a ribbon that has words saying Dello Mano
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www.dellomano.com.au

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