Grandma’s Healthy Sweets from the 1910s

Date nut bars

Susman Horse Exchange

My great-grandfather’s store in North Carolina

Dates, nuts, flour, and eggs – what could be simpler and healthier than my Grandma Bertie’s Date Strips? I copied this recipe from her book of favorite recipes that she started writing down when she was a teenager in the 1910s in Washington, North Carolina. I recently spoke at the Southern Jewish Historical Society about her early life as part of the only Jewish family in this small town on the Pamlico Sound.

Making these chewy bars gave me a chance to pay tribute to her skill in baking and her devotion to her family. Happy Mother’s Day to all!

Grandma Bertie’s Date Strips (1910s)
Makes about 24 strips
2 cups chopped dates
2 cups sugar [I used 1/2 cup brown sugar, the rest granulated]
2 cups flour
2 cups nuts [I used pecans]
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 eggs

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  2. Place the dates, sugar, flour, nuts, and baking powder in a large bowl. Stir until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whip the eggs with a whisk until light and fluffy. Add to the date mixture. Stir to combine.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until golden on the edges, about 30 minutes.
  5. Let cool and cut into strips. Roll in powdered sugar [I sprinkled each strip with sugar].

About heritagerecipebox

I am named after my great-grandmother, who only prepared two dishes, according to anyone who remembers. Somehow I ended up with a cooking gene that I brought with me from Richmond, Virginia to my current home in Boston, Massachusetts. I have worked as a journalist and published three cookbooks plus a memoir and a novel. This blog gives me a chance to share family recipes and other American recipes with a past.
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4 Responses to Grandma’s Healthy Sweets from the 1910s

  1. greg says:

    How fun is that?! They look delicious! A nice tribute to your grandmother.

    I have 3 handwritten recipe books/boxes from relatives that have past-on…and while I occasionally sit and peruse them, remembering what wonderful cooks they were…I haven’t yet recreated any of their dishes. I’ve got a “block” or something. I certainly “channel” other people’s relatives on holidays and now and then in between…just not my own. You’ve inspired me.


    • Take a look at your family recipes – you may be surprised by what you find. With a bit less sugar, this recipe could fit into any current cookbooks for healthy desserts. I never remember my grandmother making this so it’s like discovering new story about her. Glad you’re inspired!


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