Welcome to “Eating History,” a series in which Jaya Saxena of the New-York Historical Society mines the vast archives of the museum and library in search of vintage images and ephemera that offer a look into how New Yorkers used to dine. Follow the museum @NYHistory for more.
The files for the New York Exchange for Women’s Work in the New-York Historical Society Library contain countless recipes, from handwritten notes, to cookbooks, to newspaper clippings. One undated clipping is for something called “Meringue Rego Park,” submitted by reader Mrs. M. Paul of Rego Park, Queens. The neighborhood was named “ReGo” for “Real Good Construction Company,” which built a number of houses for its employees in the area beginning in the 1920s.
The clipping suggests Mrs. M. Paul sent her recipe to the Barclay-Vesey Building at 140 West Street. Now known as the Verizon Building, it is considered the first Art Deco skyscraper in New York. There are few other clues as to the origins of this recipe, but that doesn’t matter, because the real story here is that the meringues are delicious.
Meringue Rego Park
Beat 3 egg whites until stiff, then slowly fold in 1 cup sifted powdered sugar. Fold in 1/2 cup each semi-sweet chocolate pieces and chopped walnuts. Add 1/3 cup soda cracker crumbs. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake in 350 oven for about 15 minutes.
What you get is essentially a diet chocolate chip cookie: fluffy but crunchy, with no butter and the only flour coming from the soda crackers. Sure, my egg whites could have been stiffer and the presentation a little prettier, but who cares when you get to stuff little clouds of sugar and chocolate into your mouth all night long?