Last week, we invited people to a free tasting of all four semifinalists in our Ultimate Holiday Cookie Bracket, and it led to an overarching realization: There are a heck of a lot of different kinds of cookies out there.

Many of the hundreds of Philadelphians who stopped by our tables by the Christmas tree in the Rotunda of the Shoppes at Liberty Place had never heard of pignoli cookies — the almond paste, pine nut-covered nuggets provided by Sarcone’s. Others had no idea what to make of the rugelach, which Famous 4th Street Deli rolled up with raisins, apples, cinnamon and chocolate and baked to a golden brown.

Credit: Shannon Wink

This being Philly, folks had an easier time ID-ing the cannoli, especially because Termini Bros. sent two representatives to hand out the miniature ricotta-filled shells, each ensconced in an adorable ruffled cup. Then there was the offering from Sweet Box, which had the most traditional cookie shape, but also a show-stopping red tint and surprise studs of white chocolate inside.

In the end, it came down to fun and flavor (and personal preference, of course). We combined the tallies from those who voted in person, filling out ballots as they sipped on milk and hot chocolate from Saxbys, and the count from our online poll, to arrive at the grand finale of our competition. Sarcone’s pignolis took the cake over the Famous 4th rugelach, and it turns out name recognition wasn’t enough — Sweet Box red velvet notched a surprise win over Termini’s cannoli.

Which cookie will emerge the ultimate winner? Make your pick below.


Danya Henninger is director and editor of Billy Penn at WHYY, where she oversees the team, all editorial decisions, and all revenue generation — including the membership program. She is a former food...