Cookies from beyond: A TikToker is baking recipes left behind on gravestones

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By Euronews  with AFP
American librarian Rosie Grant filming cookies for her TikTok.
American librarian Rosie Grant filming cookies for her TikTok.   -   Copyright  AFP

One cup of butter or margarine, three-quarter cups of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla: an American librarian is getting her cookie recipes from beyond the grave via tombstones.

In the United States, a scattering of gravestones have recipes carved into the stones, and 33-year-old Rosie Grant has begun to explore them on TikTok, where her videos posted under the account @ghostlyarchive have drawn millions of views.

But she has had to guess the cooking time and temperature of the recipes, as "there's only so much space on gravestones," a problem that some of her 109,000 followers help her solve.

As an intern in the archives of a Washington cemetery, Grant discovered the world of taphophiles, people who have a passion for cemeteries, tombstones and other aspects of burial.

She stumbled on her first gravestone recipe purely by chance -- a 'spritz cookie' recipe written on the grave of Naomi Odessa Miller-Dawson who died in 2009 aged 87. 

"It wasn't just that it said this woman liked cookies... it had the actual ingredients for the cookies on her gravestone. And I was, like, 'that's amazing!'" she said. "What is this? What is this recipe? What does this taste like? I was so curious."

Grant has even been contacted by descendants of those whose recipes she makes. All of the recipes she found were on the gravestones of women, and most of them died within the past 30 years.

"[Their] grandkids and great-grandkids are on TikTok. So several of them have commented on the videos, like, 'Hey, this is my grandma, this is the recipe we made, and I recommend you do it this way, which is the coolest thing ever!" she said.

The journey has also brought her some closure, as she lost both of her grandmothers during the pandemic.

"When I talk about stories of them, I kind of loosely think about them. But when I eat a meal they cooked, I feel way more connected to them. I can smell smells that are familiar that make me think of them. I can see the look of something. I can taste it."