In the interest of getting the history of the Neiman-Marcus Cookie Recipe story absolutely correct, I have voluntarily engaged in some heavy research. I logged about 12 hours in a local collegiate library and came up with what I believe to be the earliest version of this story. It is not unique to America. Heck, it is not even unique to this century! Below I have translated from the runic, the (I can only believe it is the original) first known reference to being overcharged for a recipe, and then cheating the seller by passing along the recipe to many others. Take a gander and let me know what you think...
A Proclamation from Sir Lord Duke Belvedere, Leige of Wiltshire, Proud Servant of His Lord High God and the King under Him to all kith and kin across the land, acroos the seas, and to any of noble blood beyond.
It would pleaseth us mightily if thou, with thine noble heart and chivalrous soul wouldst maketh it a point to use the recipe contained herein and pass it along to thine own kith and kin to be used and passed along to theirs...
But, first, because it doth pleaseth, us, and hopefuly thou as well, the history of this wondrous recipe that We have enclosed for thou...
We, Sir Lord Duke Belvedere, Leige of Wiltshire, Proud Servant of His Lord High God and the King under Him, had the unique pleasure of visiting the demense of the Most Noble Lord Oleg, Prince of Normandy. During which visit, we had the opportunity to partake of many feasts in our honor and his. It was during yon feasts that a most heavenly beverage was presented and consumed. Twas Mead, and not just any mead, we may say. Twas blackberry mead of a most delectable sort. Upon the completion of yon visit to the Most Noble Lord Oleg, Prince of Normandy, we requested that a recitation of the procedure for drinking that most delectable beverage be ensconced within our historianís head for a repitition to our own beverage preparer at home. The Most Noble Oleg, Prince of Normandy informed us that it would cost us 350 guilders and 30 head of cattle. We said that it should not be a problem for one of such noble birth as ourselves, that his Leige, the Most Noble Lord Oleg, Prince of Normandy should inform our historian of the procedure, and send him back to us in 30 days time with a messenger to carry the return payment for the recipe.
A month of days went by and the historian was duly returned to us. The messenger from His Most Noble Lord Oleg, Prionce of Normandy was scheduled to return to his lord the following day. When we asked that the charge be repeated to us, we were informed that the exchange rate for the guilders translated into 15,000 pounds! That Cad! The Messenger was beheaded, and his head returned to the Most High Noble Lord Oleg, Prince of Normandy, along with the requested 30 head of cattle and 350 pounds.
Our own beverage maker was set to work immediately to prepare some of the wonderful mead. It took over a month to fully prepare. Upon the date of its completion, we were about to partake the first drink of the most wonderous elixer whereupon a messenger burst forth upon our feast and informed us that the Most High Lord Oleg, Prince of Normandy had not been pleased with our treatment of his messenger, and had declared war upon us, there was a full fleet of 7 long-boats full of armed warriors on their way to make war with us immediately!
And so, upon the potential that I shall not return from the battle, I wish to make certain that the High Lord Oleg, Prince of Normandy does not play such a prank on any others of our noble standing, and so we give to you, free of charge the recipe for which we are about to make war...
Your Patron, Friend, Foe, Ally and Leige, Sir Lord Duke Belvedere, Leige of Wiltshire, Proud Servant of His Lord High God and the King under Him
Ingredients (2 gallons):
1 gallon ripe blackberries 4 1/2 lbs clover honey acid blend and yeast Montrache wine yeast
Pick about a gallon of good ripe berries, rinseth them. During this time beginneth a simple mead with 2 1/2lbs of yon clover honey and enough water to make a gallon. Useth the Montrache wine yeast and add yeast and acid blend. Fermentation shall stop after three weeks. Masheth the blackberries with a wine bottle. Add the mead. Two weeks later, rack the liquid off of the fruit and into a carboy. Add another 2 lbs of honey and enough water to fill it up to 2 gallons. A month later, bottle. At eight months, it shall be perfect.
Up through six months of aging, it shanít be very good, but at eight shall be wonderful. It becometh like a really good red wine with a blackberry nose and aftertaste.
The above is most certainly a parody, and the mead recipe has been changed enough to make it almost unusable. you may find the original at: http://alpha.rollanet.org/library/beeslees.html If you have enjoyed this, please send it along to others afflicted with the Neiman-Marcus story, and be certain to include my name right up at the top where it is now.