traditional Pittsburgh cookie tables in Uvalde, Texas in the wake of the May 24 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that killed 21 people, including 19 children, and wounded 17 others.
Members of The Wedding Cookie Table Community, a locally born Facebook group of over 100,000, plan to provide cookies for Uvalde’s mourners, hospital workers, first responders, journalists, the father and son team that created 19 custom coffins for victims’ funerals, and the Uvalde community at large on June 26-27.
“My wedding cookie table community is full of people with big hearts,” group founder Laura Magone of Mongahela tells Pittsburgh City Paper. Magone and other local bakers are coordinating with members of the Facebook group on the ground in Texas to buy, bake, and/or ship probably thousands of cookies. The group plans to post signage in English and Spanish with information about the Pittsburgh cookie table tradition and a message of support and love.
Magone says the group has determined there are at least four Pittsburgh cookie table staples they don’t have in Texas that the group will focus on sending: ladylocks, a cookie with a long, flaky shell and sweet cream filling; Italian peach cookies; gobs, a regional variation on the Amish whoopie pie; and buckeyes, balls of peanut butter dipped in chocolate. They're working with a professional baker to coordinate refrigerated shipping as needed, she says.
Magone started the Facebook group in 2015 after unsuccessfully trying to research the history of cookie tables. Cookie tables are common fixtures at community and family events in Pittsburgh, but little is known for sure about the tradition’s origins.
“I grew up with the cookie table tradition,” Magone says. “And it occurred to me over the years that people took cookie tables for granted and did not document their cookie tables.” The Facebook group, which has grown to over 100,000 members, became a place for people to trade recipes, pictures, and tips.
When it comes to offering comfort-by-cookie, this is not the group’s first rodeo. Starting in 2018 after the mass shooting at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life-Or L’Simcha Congregation, the group has also focused on sending cookies to communities coping with tragedy.
Magone hopes that the cookies will let Uvalde know “that people from all over the country that they've never met and will probably never meet care about them and send them love and best wishes as much as we can.”
Members of the group also plan to send stuffed animals, copies of a children’s book about grief, and handmade notes. Anyone interested in supporting the effort is encouraged to join the Facebook group.