Charleston Chews, the nougat bars covered with chocolate that the Fox-Cross Candy Company introduced back in 1922, are known across the country. Charleston Chewies, by contrast, are very much a local treat.
Recipe requests for the brown sugar bars "come around at least once a year, usually during the Christmas baking season," food editor Teresa Taylor wrote in a 2008 column, one of more than a dozen times she obligingly printed a recipe for the nutty homespun sweet.
"They are chewy. And delicious," Nathalie Dupree explained in a video recipe for the Post and Courier. "Great care must be taken to keep them lightly baked, without a deep color, and without a tough top."
A Baltimore Sun reader a few years ago submitted a family chewie recipe for publication, writing that her mother, "lived her 79 years in Charleston, S.C., and made these chewies at least once a week and blessed everyone from her mail carrier, her doctor, to her many friends with these delightful treats."
The reader labeled the chewies as "Chinese Chews," using nomenclature that's common throughout Charleston, but inaccurate. Chinese Chews are a distinct cookie, possibly of British extraction, made with dates: Food historian Barry Popik has traced its domestic history back to a recipe published by Good Housekeeping in 1917. Numerous newspapers later ran similar recipes (as well as recipes for Chinese Haystack or Chinese Cluster cookies, made with chocolate chips and chow mein noodles.)
"Charleston Receipts" doesn't include a Charleston Chewie recipe, but Mrs. A.L. Wardlaw submitted Lelia Elliott's recipe for bars made from butter, brown sugar, flour, vanilla, salt, eggs and nuts, an ingredient list that's an exact match for the standard Chewie ingredient lineup. The cookies are called "Male Cookies."