The Mystery of Jimmies

“Why are they called ‘jimmies’?,” I was asked the other day.

Since I couldn’t give an answer off the top of my head, I was excited to put on my Miss NiNi sleuthing hat and research the answer.

If you are clueless to my question’s answer, please read on to discover the findings of this private detective!

We are fast approaching the “jimmy” baking season. Yes, we are! More than likely, you have even tasted a jimmy or two.

Retro to the Christmas holidays of your childhood when you became Mom or Grandma’s aproned baking helper.

Seasonal Creativity

Homemade sugar cookies or cupcakes might have already been baked in anticipation of flourishing childlike artisitic creativity. With the use of frosting and sprinkles, the canvas of ordinary treats became extraordinary colorful masterpieces—perhaps, so much so that even Santa only dare ‘Ooh’ and “Ahh’ over the beauty of the only-for-the-jolly-old-elf Christmas Eve goodies.

With the mention of the word, ‘sprinkles,’ though lies the answer to my question, Dear Readers.  

According to wikipedia.org, what consumers often call sprinkles covers several types of candy decorations that are sprinkled randomly over a surface.

Past experience has proven to this dessert baker that the term, sprinkles, might be used rather loosely! Think of excited junior bakers whose fine motor skills are still developing. Can they actually ‘sprinkle’ the sprinkles?

Even an adult might not be prepared for sprinkling the tiny rod-shaped colorful candy decorations if the container’s openings are larger than anticipated. Those circumstances open the floodgates to a confetti heap or magic colorful ‘sprinkle’ stream rolling all over the counter or floor! Have you experienced that, Dear Readers? Miss NiNi has!

There is a method to my ‘sprinkles’ chatter today. Herein lies the golden answer to my original question.

Uncovering the Answer

My source also went on to say that these delightful candy sprinkles are known as jimmies in the regions of Philadelphia and Boston.

History shows that the origin of the name, “jimmies” is first recorded in 1930 as a cake topping. However, it was a doctor—yes, a medical doctor—who could have been part of the jimmy-naming duo.

“Dr. Sidney Farber cofounded the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston as well as a charity named after one of his child patients. It was called the Jimmy Fund. In order to support the fund, Mr. Edward Brigham opened an ice cream restaurant and charged an extra penny for chocolate sprinkles on a cone.” The extra penny per cone was donated to The Jimmy Fund. All of this occurred two years before my birth in 1948.

A chronological jimmy-naming mystery does exist, however, because the two dates mentioned above do not exactly coincide with each other.

Whenever and whoever gave the name ‘jimmies’ to ‘sprinkles’ is not black and white.
But of one thing Miss NiNi is certain! New junior Christmas cookie and cupcake jimmy-decorating artists have been born each year since their creation! In the baking world, sometimes fun equates with the word, mess. But that’s okay. It’s all part of memory making!

Prepare yourselves, Dear Readers, for a delightful jimmies-decorating season! It will be here before we know it!

Miss NiNi