For nearly a century, Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers have been essential to the classic icebox cake and the crusts of no-bake pies and cheesecakes. They hit the market in 1924 just as refrigerators were working their way into American homes and made icebox cakes, which originally called for whipped cream layered with homemade cookies, even easier to assemble. Nabisco later printed a recipe for one on the back of the chocolate wafer boxes, cementing the cookie as a key ingredient everyone could depend on—until now.
Famous Chocolate Wafers never hit their 100-year anniversary because Nabisco quietly discontinued the cookies at the start of this year. And now that we’re in the height of summer, some bakers on our Hotline are discovering the news for the first time as they reach for their favorite low-lift desserts.
Food52 community member Julia Grant, for instance, recently planned on making Amanda’s mom’s cheesecake, only to discover that the crust’s key ingredient was not at her local Hannaford’s supermarket. She says a delivery person stocking Nabisco products told her the cookie might make a comeback for the holidays, so she reached for the Hotline to find out if it was true, and whether anyone had discovered a good substitute. Many had.
Longtime community member Nancy pointed out that this same topic came up on the Hotline last month when another Food52er asked about a Famous Chocolate Wafer substitute for Danielle Oron’s tahini mousse pie. Between the two crust quandries, our community members have suggested multiple substitutes, including Goya’s Chocolate Maria Cookies, adding cocoa to vanilla wafers, taking Oreo cookies apart and scraping out the filling, and making homemade chocolate wafers.
Amanda also reached out to her mother to find out her solution, only to learn that Judy Hesser’s recipe was actually an innovation on a cheesecake that called for a graham cracker crust. But that wasn’t exactly a consolation for Julia. “Everyone loves [Judy’s] crust,” she said.
Nabisco would not confirm or deny the rumors of the wafer’s return, nor would they explain why the cookies were discontinued. But they did recommend a substitute. “We have found that consumers have enjoyed swapping in Oreo Thins for many of the recipe uses of our Famous Chocolate Wafers,” said Jane Corcoan, a spokesperson for Mondelēz International, the parent company of Nabisco.
One could speculate that the brand wanted to give these slender Oreos a boost by getting rid of their closest cousin, but an expert baker we trust agrees they make a fine replacement. Jessie Sheehan, the author of Icebox Cakes: Recipes for the Coolest Cakes In Town (and this Genius Snickerdoodle recipe) says you don’t even need to scoop out the creamy center. In a Reel she shared on July 16, she said, “The tiny, tiny bit of cream either gets blended up when you’re making your cookie crust, or it kind or melts into the whipped cream when you’re making your icebox cake.”
How are you handling the news of the chocolate wafer’s demise? Let us know in the comments, and read on for more news from around our community.
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From Our Shop
Every new episode of Erin Jeanne McDowell’s series generates a ton of questions from Food52ers like “Why did she move to Kansas City?” or “Where did she get that pie clock?” She also just revealed that she will be in a new Netflix series, The Big Nailed It Baking Challenge, a spin-off from the original reality show. Meaning, there’s lots to talk about with one of our favorite bakers!
I’ll be talking to Erin at the end of this month to ask her about all these things and more. Before I do, tell me what you would like to know about our resident baking expert in the comments below, or in the comments of her newest episode, a cobbler crash course. And in case you missed them, here are our other new YouTube videos:
Want to connect with others in the Food52 community? Meet us in the Food52 Collective. We chat about the recipes and products you like via Slack (and now Facebook for those who prefer it), and I share the early word on sales and special events, too.