A savory cookie with a weird history.
Ad from the August 20, 1959 edition of the Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner
1/3 cup butter
Cream the butter, add sugar gradually, then raisins, egg well beaten, and milk. Mix and sift dry ingredients and add to first mixture. Roll mixture a little thicker than for vanilla wafers.
For what it’s worth, the vanilla wafers recipe on the same page doesn’t say anything about thickness, so that instruction is only useful if you read it as “roll thicker than other cookies.” Which you should; they’re more like little cakes.
If the seasonings remind you of oatmeal cookies, that’s a variation too; here’s an example from the January 9, 1927 edition of the Mansfield (Ohio) News:
Hermits–One cup vegetable shortening, one cup granulated sugar, two eggs, one teaspoon cinnamon, one-half teaspoon soda–two-third teaspoon salt, five tablespoons sour milk, one box chopped raisins, two rolled oats, two and one-half cups flour.
Cream shortening–add sugar and beaten eggs, stir soda into milk and put into first mixture. Add oats and raisins which have been rolled in flour, then flour in which the salt and cinnamon have been sifted. The batter should be too stiff to drop and should be pushed off the spoon. Use a teaspoon and you will have about thirty little cakes. Bake in slow oven.
In the 1930s, a variation of sweet hermits emerged where the cookies would be baked in a loaf, then sliced into bars, sort of like a once-baked biscotti; they were sometimes advertised as fruit bars. (In the 1950s, recipes would suggest baking them in a tray and cutting bars from it, like brownies.)
Savory hermits never took this path and stayed roughly round; here’s a version of cheese hermits from the November 5, 1967 edition of The (Phoenix) Arizona Republic:
1/2 pound sharp cheese, grated
Almost melt cheese and margarine before working flour sifted with baking powder and salt. Add sauce and pepper. Shape into small ball sand bake 15 or 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
From the box of L.R. from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
1 jar Old English sharp cheese
1/2 stick oleo
3/4 cup flour, sifted [but see note below]
dash cayenne pepper
Mix with pastry blender, put olive in center and make ball of cheese dough around it.
Bake 15 minutes at 350 deg. or until brown. Makes around 30.
Recipe from the kitchen of Ruby Dillinger.