Making Christmas cookies with your Nana used to be a hazard to your health, or at least your teeth, thanks to the tiny silver balls that you used on the snowflakes.

You remember them. They came in a plastic container and inevitably spilled across the counter every December, running for their tiny lives as they tumbled onto the floor and created a would-be ice rink in your kitchen.


Silver Bell Cookies Loaded With Silver DrageesWe used them sparingly, and only when necessary. I mean, every reindeer cookie can't be Rudolph, right?

As it turns out, these little guys are quite the pot stirrers. Technically, the FDA considers them inedible, or implies as much with their "not for consumption/decoration only" wording they insist on appearing on labels. Buzzkills. True, they used to contain mercury, but mercury used to be considered medicinal, though likely not in the large quantities we typically consume when these bad boys rolled atop stylish Christmas tree cookies.

Silver dragees are available in all states except California and, if you're really desperate, you can head to the UKm, where they're still classified as a "food item".

We'll admit; we had to ask around to figure out the proper name for these decorative silver balls. Now that we've figured out what their name, we had to discern how to pronounce them. Thanks to modern technology, we have a man whom we can only assume is French, handsome, and (likely) computer generated who can tell us how.

Do you still decorate with silver dragees? If not, what's in your cookie decorating kit?

What recipes do you want to learn about? Come back each Thursday as we revisit classics from our recipe collection.

By Ashley Kappel and Ashley Kappel