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History of the “Pot Brownie”

Written by Asia Mayfield

Everyone’s heard of “pot brownies.” But do you know who whipped up the first batch? Mankind has a long, storied history with cannabis-infused edibles. However, brownies arrived on the scene pretty late, with the first recipe emerging in the late 19th century.

We don’t know exactly who baked the first infused brownie. But we can pinpoint when the first written recipe appeared in a mainstream publication.

In 1954, Alice B. Toklas, a feminist icon who hobnobbed with Picasso and was the life partner of Gertrude Stein, published The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook. Tucked away into a spare paragraph was a recipe for hashish fudge.

Despite the “fudge” name, there’s no chocolate in Toklas’ concoction. The mixture is comprised of spices, sugar, nuts, dates, and figs with a healthy dose of hashish. Over time, Toklas’ fudge recipe morphed into brownies.

“The recipe was innocently included without my realizing that the hashish was the accented part of the recipe…I was shocked to find that America wouldn’t accept it because it was too dangerous,” Toklas said in a 1963 interview.

Toklas wasn’t sparing with her praise in the original recipe. She writes, “This is the food of paradise…euphoria and brilliant storms of laughter; ecstatic reveries and extensions of one’s personality on several simultaneous planes are to be complacently expected.”

While Toklas introduced hashish fudge to Westerners, the recipe is similar to majoun, a Moroccan cannabis edible that’s been consumed for thousands of years. Majoun can be very sweet like a dessert or the sugar can be skipped so only a few spices accentuate the hash.

After Toklas came San Francisco’s Brownie Mary in the 70s and 80s. The activist, born Mary Jane Rathbun in 1922, baked and sold thousands of cannabis-infused brownies and is still revered by aficionados.

“She became one of the first people to put her hands on the (AIDS) epidemic, [having] instinctively figured out that pot would be a good thing for these guys,” said John Entwistle, a friend of Brownie Mary’s and co-author of Proposition 215, the bill that legalized medical cannabis in California.

Mary’s work would further cement the popularity of the infused treat. Now, consumers can visit dispensaries in states across the country to find delicious, well-infused brownies. And patients can get the legal medicine they need thanks to her tremendous efforts.

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About the author

Asia Mayfield

Asia Mayfield is a freelance writer who focuses on the cannabis industry. She can be reached at