Appalachia Appalachian Food

Lunchroom Cookies

Chocolate oatmeal cookies
Did you eat in the lunchroom when you were in school? As far as I can remember Paul, Steve, and I always ate in the lunchroom.

I pretty much packed the girls’ lunches every day while they were in school. They are way too picky.

For whatever reason the lunches from my elementary school, Martins Creek, stand out in my mind more than my high school years. Maybe its because I spent more time there, 8 years, or maybe its because the school was so small I knew all the lunch ladies on a first name basis and most of them knew me well enough to remember when I was born.

Of course I liked the pizza they served. Remember it came in big squares? Maybe it still does. I also like their mashed potatoes. And I never got over my infatuation with their cartons of milk and oh my on lucky days there might even be chocolate milk. I did not like the regularly served meal of soup and a peanut-butter sandwich. I never understood how anyone could eat peanut butter without the jelly!

One lunchroom favorite I make myself chocolate oatmeal cookies. Some folks call them no bake cookies. I suppose the lunchroom served them because most kids love chocolate, they were sweet, and the oatmeal made them semi healthy.

Easy no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies
There’s lots of different recipes for the cookies. When The Deer Hunter and I were first married I found the recipe variation I like the best in a community cookbook that students at Martins Creek School sold. Coincidentally, the recipe was submitted by a girl who was a grade behind me in elementary school. I guess she never got over lunchroom cookies either.

You need:

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 3 cups one minute oats (I use a little less than 3 cups because I like mine extra chocolaty and moist)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine: butter, milk, cocoa, and sugar in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Heat till boiling. Boil one minute.

Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and peanut butter.

Once the peanut butter has melted, stir in oatmeal till thoroughly mixed. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper or aluminum foil.

Cookies like the lunchroom served

Making the cookies couldn’t be easier. They are perfect for a quick fix for a sweet tooth and fast enough to make for those last minute functions-you know the ones your daughters forget to tell you about until an hour before they start?

So did you eat in the lunchroom? Did they ever serve chocolate no bake oatmeal cookies?


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  • Reply
    February 7, 2022 at 7:06 am

    I grew up in the piedmont area of NC and had a love/hate attitude toward our 20 cent lunches. We had these cookies, called “boiled cookies.” I’ve also heard them called “dookey wads.”

  • Reply
    Gina Smith
    April 13, 2020 at 11:20 pm

    I smiled so big at today’s cookie post! That’s the very same recipe. We call them “No Bakes”, the ingredients are always on hand, my adult children still go crazy for them and they are my “gotta have chocolate” fix! A universal recipe for sure!

  • Reply
    Pepper D Basham
    November 26, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    We grew up calling these Preacher cookies 🙂 I’ve never heard anyone else, except folks from my hometown, call them Preacher Cookies.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    November 30, 2011 at 10:56 am

    About the only difference in my recipe for these no bakes is I add 3t of vanilla (can never get enough vanilla) and cook it for 2 minutes. I loved our school’s rolls, cornbread (with butter oozing from it)and the peanut butter chews. Those were the treats our cooks made. Back in my days, I don’t think they ever served pizza.

  • Reply
    Darlene Debty Kimsey
    November 14, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    I loved the lunchroom ladies at Martins Creek! Especially, Mrs. Frankie Chastain. Of course, she was the Mama of one of my best friends. They were always so kind to the kids. And Gail, Sharon, and I sometimes got to wash the dishes after lunch. We thought it was great fun with the big sinks. I didn’t eat alot in the lunch room because I was picky too. But the square pizza was always great! And it was the first pizza I ever ate. I loved the peanut butter sandwiches too. They were solid and you usually had to have 2 cartons of little milks to wash it down. Thanks for bringing back memories.

  • Reply
    Nancy Wigmore
    November 14, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Oh, I remember eating lunchroom food. Especially enjoyed soup day! It was so delicious. My Aunt Daisy worked in the lunchroom and the pizza she made was so good. It had her special touch when made it simply wonderful.
    I remember well the first time I had these Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies. They were at my youngest sister’s boyfriends house. His mama made some and they called them Preacher Cookies. Thanks for sharing. Have a beautiful day. God bless you in a special way!

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    November 14, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I ate in the lunchroom, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried those cookies–maybe, like somebody said, they hadn’t been invented yet! I will try them now-thanks! Lunch was twenty cents per day when I was in elementary school. For an extra nickel you got milk (in a glass bottle) and a cookie about two o’clock! For years-even into high school–I ran a dust mop over the gym floor before school started to earn my lunch money.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2011 at 8:32 am

    I love these cookies and I loved eating in the school lunch room everyday. I loved almost everything they served, but the great big white lima beans. The square pizza was wonderful and the shephard’s pie was out of this world. I liked the soup and sandwich days at our school, but our peanut butter had jelly or honey mixed in with it. They always gave us a half an apple or a half an orange for dessert that day. We also loved Friday’s because we either had fish sticks and french fries or tuna salad with those big yummy yeast rolls. Thanks for bringing back some good memories to me today!

  • Reply
    November 14, 2011 at 8:29 am

    We call those cookies, Cow Pies. Love them!

  • Reply
    November 14, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Those are my daughter’s favorite cookies. I miss her not living at home and baking them almost weekly.
    My favorite thing in school were the lunch ladies homemade cinnamon rolls!!!

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies are my “all-time” fave cookie. And your recipe is the same one that I inherited from my Mom. We must be related! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    We call them Cow Pattie cookies in my little community. Daddy loved those things. I am trying to stay off sugar, so I don’t dare make any. I love them a lot and it would be too great a temptation for me. I remember lunh in grade school , also. The cooks were such sweet ladies. They made a cheese spread for sandwiches that was great and delicious home made rolls! Yum!

  • Reply
    SandyCarlson (USA)
    November 13, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    I want to try your recipe!
    I remember the aromas of the lunchroom as reminders that I was not home, where I wanted to be with my mom. School broke my heart for not being home. So I teach….
    I enjoyed your post very much.

  • Reply
    brenda s 'okie in colorado'
    November 13, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    I went to school in a very small town in Oklahoma from 1st through 5th grade, then moved to a larger city. In the small town, we had the most delicious lunches. Elementary school was on one side of town and high school the other side. The lunchroom was at the high school. Since the high school was across the major highway, we were bussed. Our lunches were hot and already served up and on the table. If we wanted seconds, there were ladies with food to walk around and serve you more. We had pinto beans, cornbread, carrot sticks, the best buttery chocolate cake I have ever tasted. We had really great beef vegetable soup, cornbread and hot yeast rolls, peanut butter cookies, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans seasoned with bacon, oven fried chicken, macaroni with tomatoes and ground beef, the list goes on. This was back in the mid 50’s to 60’s. I was told the food was government issue commodities. Everything was made from scratch. Great memories.Then I moved to the city, lunches were square pizza made of white bread slices. That’s when I walked home for lunch or walked to the nearest burger joint.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    We were wayyy too poor to eat in the lunchroom daily. I do remember once in a great while they’d be having pizza, and somewhere our mom would scrounge up the quarter it would cost for me to have bought lunch, but that didn’t (couldn’t) happen often.
    By the way, I remember my sister, Cindy, making these no-bakes with chopped peanuts or shredded coconut or even chow mein noodles, and they were good.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Oh yes! We always ate in the lunchroom at school. The town I grew up in was small enought that we only had one lunch room which was in the elementary/junior high. As high-schoolers, we just walked from the high school to the elementary for lunch. The schools were a few blocks apart, but that was okay. My school never served chocolate no-bake cookies, but everything was homemade and wonderful. The dinner rolls that one of our cooks made were incredible! My favorite lunch was ravioli and those delicious rolls! Yumm! Good memories.

  • Reply
    Barbara Johnson
    November 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    We used to be able to get Mcdonald’s once a week…or maybe twice a month..I can’t remember~it was a real treat though!

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    I don’t recall much about our lunches, but I did eat in the lunchroom some and I took my lunch some. We never had those cookies. I never liked the food at school. I don’t recall them ever having anything I liked.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Our lunchroom and food was the best during my school years. We
    never had pizza, but the best
    speghetti I’ve ever had. And I’ve
    never been able to duplicate the
    soup they gave us. I loved those
    thick peanut butter cookies, and
    the peanut butter half sandwich
    was sweetened. We also had half of
    a pimento cheese sandwich. I think
    Thursday was speghetti day and it
    came with the best thin cake with
    browned coconut shavings on top.
    I think it was mixed with powdered
    sugar. None of my brothers ever
    took a lunch either. We always
    had real food, like pinto beans
    with cornbread, stewed cabbage,
    and great creamed potatoes, turnip
    greens. It made you appreciate
    dinner time…Ken

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    My elementary days were in a very small Catholic school, no hot lunches except once a month hot dog Thursday, boiled hot dogs and cupcakes made by select moms (or the bakery they picked them up from). I vaguely remember lunches at the school I switched to in sixth grade, I think I took lunch a lot. But then jr. high years coincided with my mom getting a full time teaching job in a school district up the freeway quite a bit, so it was school lunches after that. Some of my taste buds were developed in those years for sure. Cinnamon rolls with chili. Mash potatoes and fish sticks. And my irritation with other things took full form. Like that pizza you were refering to, our school district made their dough out of something that more resemble bicuit dough not yeast bread, landing somewhere in the middle of the two. I have no idea how they did that and I would not want to replicate it!
    I remember these cookies but I don’t remember how I felt about them!

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    I ate in the lunchroom and only remember the things I didn’t like, such as kraut and hominy. Also, I didn’t like milk, and drinking it from a glass bottle seemed nasty to me because I was used to drinking from a little tin cup at home.

  • Reply
    Carol Isler
    November 13, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Law, I did love our lunchroom food and the lunchroom ladies at Startex Elementary School in SC! I had a spell back then when I wanted to be a lunchroom lady, too. I remember the peanut butter cookies the best, the kind you mash with a fork before cooking. It took quite a while but I do believe I have perfected them for my children and grandchildren since they will never have that experience in the schools these days.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    November 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    If I am not mistaken the Chocolate Oatmeal (cow-patty) recipe is fairly new considering….I think it started its rounds in the late fifties or early sixties…
    I remember coming in from school my senior year and these cookies laying on waxed paper in the kitchen…I thought my Mother had made one of her few cooking disasters…”These look like “cow-patties” and laughed!”…Until of course we tasted them! LOL
    From then on the cookies were called “cow-patties” at our house!..
    I ate at the lunchroom some and took my lunch sometimes..I hated the red water soup!…Best part was the cornbread…
    When I was in high school some kids started a protest of the lunchroom food with a petition and everything..One boy making the comment that a dog wouldn’t eat it..So the day came when a plate of cafeteria food was served and witnessed by a large portion of the school…There was always a hungry dog hanging around school and sure enough (thank goodness) the dog wouldn’t eat it…We had a teacher or two witness too…
    Sure enough some measures were taken to try to improve the school lunches…LOL
    My favorite thing now and always invokes lunchroom eating lunch with our Grandchildren on Grandparents day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Holiday lunches encouraged by the school..the kids love it and so do we. School lunches have changed..and the seating has gotten smaller…LOL
    Thanks Tipper, I know my comments are always way too long, but you always stir up so many memories in this old ladies wandering mind!

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I ate way too many strawberry preserves and peanut butter sandwiches growing up. My sister made “million dollar fudge” often. I will not eat either one even today. There was a lot of repetition back then, and I was grown before I realized there were any spices besides salt and pepper. But, it was a good life!
    My earliest memory was when grade school cooked up a pot of free homemade soup for children who had no lunch at home. I stayed, and I was happily slurping my free soup, when I looked up to see my puzzled Mama in a bright red coat. Oops, nobody informed Mama I would not be home for lunch. I recall her telling the principal that my Dad was a coal miner who worked every day.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    November 13, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Oh yes, lunchroom food was on our menu. I particularly loved Mrs. Hamilton’s Peanut Butter chewy and soft. hmmm. makes me hungry for some. However I’ll have to give the chocolate/oatmeal cookies a try also.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I rarely got to eat lunchroom lunchand then it was a real treat. Mom always packed my boring lunches. Dad took his to work. Usually PB&J or tuna and two cookies and maybe an apple. In fact the other day we were laughing about it. She hated making lunches and I still remember she would put tunafish like most people put butter on sandwiches-very sparingly. A can of tuna made 10 lunches. Dad took his lunch too but I’m pretty sure he’d stop and get a snack at a cafe.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 11:22 am

    I did eat in the lunchroom but they never made those cookies. We did make them at home though and so did my children.
    The thing I loved most about school lunch was the smell of the yeast rolls. You could smell them baking all over the school.
    My own children refused to buy lunch at school, always preferring to take a lunch from home.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 10:39 am

    I don’t ever remember taking my lunch. We had the best lunch ladies and food. I don’t remember those cookies, but the chocolate butter concoction was to die for! It had the texture of a creamy frosting, slightly sweet and fluffy and we spread it on graham crackers. My mom and I tried to recreate if for years tp no avail. Thanks fort he memory and I will be trying these cookies soon.

  • Reply
    Eva M. Wike, Ph.D.
    November 13, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Dear John: What a ‘funny’ thought about whether McCargo’s ears still wiggle. j.k.
    Speaking of lunchrooms, I remember how we took ‘canned’ green beans, jugs of milk and other food items to pay for our lunches. Then the GOVERNMENT declared our food unacceptable – so we had to start taking our lunch. But with 5 brothers and 5 sister, my pickings were slim at the bottom! Don’t know how I stayed ‘chubby’ through those years. It must have been those sweet taters Mama allers had baked in that black bread pan sitting on the kitchen table – waiting on us hungry kids as we can running out the lane from the bus stop! LIFE IS GOOD!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Mary Berrong
    November 13, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Tipper, I loved eating in the Lunchroom. I think that back then, many years ago, the lunchroom lady prepared home cooked meals. Not like today where they have a “nutritionist” that prepares a menu for the whole county or district. My girls didn’t much like eating in the lunchroom, but they survived. In my day, the cook added flavor to food. Like “fatback” in the green beans. I remember that the lunchroom was a separate building and had long tables and benches to sit on. It was a time for social interaction as well as eating. If you couldn’t pay, you ate for free. Nobody went hungry. I don’t remember anyone bringing lunch and a lot of us didn’t have much money in those days. Your site brings back so many memories. Thanks.

  • Reply
    Susan C
    November 13, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Can’t wait to try this recipe. I rarely ate in the lunchroom. My daddy fixed our lunches every morning with the crust cut off the sandwich bread and an apple sliced to divide amongst his 3 girls. We bought milk in the lunch room and sometimes ice cream as a treat.

  • Reply
    Bobby C
    November 13, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Around here we call ’em no bake cookies. My mama used to make them all the time when we were kids. Now my kids and the other grand kids love them as much as we did, uh, do. And now my sister makes them for the kids too.
    I ate in the lunchroom too, but my kids have carried their lunches practically every day of their lives. When I was in school, I ate “reduced price” lunches. I’m not sure if they still serve square pizza, but that’s how I remember it. And sloppy joes were a favorite of mine too.

  • Reply
    Darlene LaRoche
    November 13, 2011 at 9:25 am

    always ate lunch in the lunchroom, they never served the no-bake cookies, but we would make them at home, still one of my favorite cookies…..

  • Reply
    Canned Quilter
    November 13, 2011 at 8:39 am

    OMG we must have had the same lunchroom lady. Only I remember my cookies having coconut too: )

    • Reply
      January 1, 2020 at 8:38 pm

      My mom always added coconut as well to the recipe. I loved them, still do. My daughter-in-law doesn’t add the coconut, but I still eat the cookies the way she makes them: big and chocolaty! I only eat them around the holidays as a treat – have to watch the sugar these days.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 8:24 am

    I took lunch to school most always cause of the $ issues, so I’m not sure what was served. I did eat a school lunch once or twice and do not remember it BUT I do remember the little cartons of milk, nice and cold.
    Jr. High I would finish my sack lunch & then treat myself to a Big Stick (ice cream). High school was cool cause they had more adult like choices, but I took lunch to school most day still.
    Never ever had cookies from the cafeteria and most of the time my Mom did pack us treats either. How boring now that I think about it, but back then I didn’t care.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 8:24 am

    I haven’t eaten in the lunchroom in 50 yrs. and best i remember it wasn’t anything to brag about. Liked hamburger day even tho it was a small one on a hard bun but we thought it was a treat and once a week we got homemade rolls that were good. I usually took mine from home. I used to make the chocolate cookies alot and they are really good.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Grew up north of Kansas City Mo area. Don’t remember those cookies as part of our school lunch fare but I remember my mom making ones very similar to your recipe. I remember a sack of two cookies we often got. Chocolate chip or peanut butter. Liked the choco chip; PB not so much.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 13, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Tipper, I ate in the lunchroom some and took my lunch some. When I was growing up there was no pizza at lunch and no choices. They prepared one meal and served it. You could eat it or not. I don’t remember unbaked cookies but those sure do look good.
    I remember fondly the peanut butter sandwiches. I liked them more than anything else they made. The ones we had didn’t have jelly but they did have honey. I think the mixture was peanut butter, honey and butter mixed together and spread on sliced white bread.
    I was picky like your girls so some days I’d only eat the slice of bread they served with every meal and my nice pattie of butter spread on it.
    As an adult buttered bread is still one of my comfort foods. LOL
    Funny how the childhood lunchroom memories stay with us.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 13, 2011 at 8:06 am

    When I was growing up I rarely ate in the lunchroom because they wanted money and we didn’t have any. We always had plenty to eat at home because Daddy and Mommy grew what we ate and we ate what we grew. I do remember one time I did get to eat in the lunchroom. They are serving stewed mixed veggies that day (I don’t remember what else). As I push my tray down the line I have my eye on the veggies. There is a big pearl onion in there. Twice a big as the rest. Lord, I hope I get that one. Aunt Lula Bates is reaching over with her big old spoon and yes!! It’s in my tray. Then Oh! No! she reaches over, gets my prize and sticks it right in her mouth.
    That has been 50 years ago and Aunt Lula is long gone. I hope she got forgiveness from the Lord because she didn’t get it from me.

  • Reply
    Rick Kratzke
    November 13, 2011 at 7:47 am

    Now that is something I have to try. My favorite cookie is oatmeal and I like chocolate so it should be pretty good.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 7:30 am

    Good day to you Tipper and all of your subscriber friends,
    Finally another human being who does not like PB&J —and I only ate in the school lunch room when they had the “square” pizza. Apparently, it does not matter if you went to school in the South or the North for our PIzza’s were square—Maybe it is a school thing? !!!— the recipe you gave out for the choc. oatmeal cookies I make as well but we call it Choc. Oatmeal fudge!! Linda Kerlin

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 7:27 am

    forgot to say, i have made these cookies many times for my kids when they were young. we called them oatmeal drop cookies. delish and easy to fix, stir and drop is my kind of cooking and now i want one. our walmart sells them and theirs are delicious

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 7:25 am

    i always ate in the lunchroom, but the lunchroom from 1950 to 1962 were nothing like what you describe. the lunchroom i remember the food from was elementary school in Pineville Ky, a 3 room school, no heat no air, on top of a mountain, outhouse, pump for water. the kitchen was about 10 x 6 and we had soup and cornbread or pintos and corn bread and milk every day. i loved it. they just made a big pot of either soup or pintos and gave us bowls of it with big chunks of cornbread. i still love pintos and corn bread. we crumbled the cornbread in the bowl of beans.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 7:25 am

    I love oatmeal cookies – all kinds, it just doesn’t matter. I am anxious to try the recipe. I always brought my lunch throughout all twelve grades. Money was tight back then, so mom made the lunches. You made my day!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 13, 2011 at 7:17 am

    I ate in the school lunchroom too. My favorite was the sloppy joe’s.
    I’m going to try your recipe. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Reply
    Gina Lagaly
    November 13, 2011 at 6:37 am

    I did eat in the lunch room and was always delighted when they served chocolate-oatmeal cookies. These cookies were a chocolate lovers dream and still are.
    And if this chocolate lover, who happens to subscribe to your daily thoughts along life’s journey, should win one of Granny’s treasures. She hereby vows never to drip chocolate on it.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 5:23 am

    Chocolate cookies? No, all I remember are vegetables cooked to an indistinguishable mush and chilly, lumpy custard. Oh, and a boy called McCargo who provided hours of unintended amusement by wiggling his ears when he chewed his food. Strangely enough this same McCargo turned up on TV the other day being interviewed about some obscure point of economics or law. I admit I didn’t pay much attention; I was wondering if his ears still wiggled. The interviewer failed to ask him that.

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