My mother in law recently sent us a package of cookies from France called “P’tit Biscuit.” They are finger-shaped, vanilla-flavored cookies that crunch if you bite into them, but are equally “fondant,” or melty, if you keep them in your mouth. The biscuits immediately stole my son’s heart and his face lights up when he sees one coming. For some reason, this type of basic baby cookie is not generally sold in the United States. The only teething biscuits I have found are heavy, hearty ones that frankly strike me as a greater choking hazard since once a piece breaks off, it is not easily dissolved.
As I was browsing in a wonderful Italian market in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, I came upon almost an identical cookie made in Italy and marketed for babies. They are called Plasmon, and my son loves them just as much. It turns out that Plasmon is a product that dates back to the 19th century, and was vaunted as a hyper-nutritious, healing milk powder. Supposedly, Mark Twain was an investor and believer in the product, as stated in this advertisement from the New York Times, Feb. 9, 1903.
In 1902, the Italian company Plasmon was founded to commercialize the product in Italy, and the company remained a central figure in the production of baby foods. As far as I can tell, Plasmon was never used as a baby formula, although it was developed around the same time as the first powdered infant formulas. This style of biscuits still contain the powdered milk.
If you’re interested in finding this style of baby cookies, check Italian markets.