The Laboring of Love Lives On

By Marah Morrison

The origin of the cookie table tradition in Youngstown dates back to the 20th century. Because wedding cakes were expensive at the time, immigrants who came to this area decided cookies were the next best answer.

Friends and family have been laboring love through cookies ever since for newlyweds and people tend to remember the cookies from such occasions.

Rhonda Lasko, a retired high school English teacher and counselor, loves everything about the cookie table tradition. She said it’s a great way for family and friends to participate in the celebration.

Lasko said she doesn’t want this particular tradition to be overused because it may lose its special place in weddings where it all began and where it should always remain.

“The cookie table used to be a way for the women to show off their baking skills and to share recipes from their homeland,” Lasko said. “To me, it is a sacred tradition to be celebrated at the most sacred of the sacraments.”

Dana Pusic, a clinical front end specialist at the Joanie Abdu Breast Care Center, said Youngstown is known for its traditions, especially food and cookies. Pusic has also met brides-to-be at her own wedding who have said they wanted a cookie table at theirs.

Pusic’s cookies came from friends, family and local bakeries, and she said she also had a huge amount of guests offer to bake for her and her husband at their wedding.

“I personally think the cookie table is a big hit because that’s what people always remember,” Pusic said. “Yeah, you have the cake, but even until this day people still talk about the cookie table.”

Pusic’s cookie table included Italian, Croatian, Slovak and Greek cookies among many others. She enjoyed how her family, friends and even strangers offered to help bake. Pusic said they helped the reception come together.

A Youngstown State University graduate of 2014, Ashley Roberts, said that some must-have cookies for the table are clothespins, pizzelles and kolachi.

Roberts and her mother currently run a small home bakery business, Caked by Ash. She said they get booked to do cookie tables for many different events.

“Each time we strive to make more cookies and making the display more fabulous than before,” Roberts said. “Luckily for me, my mom used to cater and I was able to learn some great recipes from her.”

Roberts is planning on having a cookie table at her wedding and her Youngstown guests are already anticipating it.

“The best cookies are made in Youngstown,” Roberts said. “Even if a bride doesn’t have a lot of money to spend, the cookie table makes the event very special.”

Sandy Krainock, who has her own, small cookie business called Cookies by Sandy, said it is not an event without following the tradition. Krainock said the cookie table brings back memories of her mom, grandma and their family recipes.

“Many times someone will tell me, ‘These taste just like my mom’s,’ and I love hearing that,” Krainock said. “It makes me feel so good to know that I helped stir up some good memories.”

Krainock said everyone looks forward to these tables at the wedding reception and parties don’t have to have as big of a cake if there are cookies.

“Women love to share their special cookies and that makes them feel like they are a part of the wedding,” Krainock said. “A big cookie table is quite something to see when they are displayed among several tables.”