The Joseph Group

Family Recipes

August 4, 2023

To Inspire:

Rosie Grant


Rosie Grant picked up an unusual hobby during the COVID lockdown in 2020, one that she’s still doing and it’s bringing her some viral fame. Grant bakes recipes found on gravestones.

Grant was studying library science and a class had her create a social media account to learn how networks work. At the same time, she was interning in the archives of the Congressional Cemetery, eternal home to historic figures like J. Edgar Hoover and John Philip Sousa. A professor suggested she combine the two parts of her studies and she created a TickTok video account called Ghostly Archive.

While posting some general videos about cemeteries, Grant found the gravestone of a woman named Naomi Odessa Miller-Dawson who died in 2008 at the age of 79. The top of the gravestone was designed to look like a book and on the pages was the seven-ingredient recipe for spritz cookies.

“I’m going to start making recipes from gravestones,” reads a caption on the first TikTok video in the series, which garnered 1.3 million views. “There’s no instructions so I’m guessing a lot / if a sugar cookie and a shortbread cookie had a baby / they’re to die for.”

Grant was new to baking – she didn’t know what a spritz cookie was, and baked it like a sugar cookie, until comments on the video suggested buying a spritz press.

Grant said the connection of food and loss is as interconnected as life and death itself.

“When we’re in mourning, food is very comforting to us,” said Grant. “These recipes feel like a more tactile, all-senses-included way to remember someone rather than only using your memory. But when you’re eating grandma’s special cake or cookie or whatever it is, you feel a little bit more connected to her.”

Grant soon discovered that Naomi’s spritz cookie recipe was not an anomaly. As the first video spread online more and more people started sending her photos of family gravestones with recipes. Next, she made Kay Andrews’ fudge recipe. Then someone sent her mother’s savory cheese dip recipe.

As Grant made more recipes and posted more videos, the feedback showed her how important cooking is for people and for family histories. She researched the lives of the women behind the recipes (so far, all of the recipes have been from women).

“The two things we inevitably do in life is we eat food and then we die someday. And it’s this weird, shared experience,” she said. “And I feel like, if anything, that’s been the most interesting comments to me, of people either reflecting on, ‘This is how I want to be remembered,’ or ‘Yeah, now I’m thinking of my grandparent, and this is what they made every day and whenever I make that, I think about them.'”

I recently noticed a gravestone featuring a chocolate chip cookie recipe near my parents’ gravesite and thought it was an interesting idea. I would guess most families have a recipe or two lovingly passed around and down. We didn’t put a recipe on my mom’s gravestone – how would we have ever picked just one? – but I still have some of her handwritten recipe cards. Maybe this weekend I will bake her Texas Sheet Cake – one of the first things she taught me to bake when I was young, and enjoy the memories.





Written by Michelle O’Brien, Manager of Marketing & Communications



O’Kane, Caitlin. cbsnews.com. This woman bakes the family recipes put on their gravestones – and it makes for a very unusual TikTok page.
Lamour, Joseph. today.com. Woman goes viral for making recipes from gravestones, says ‘they’re to die for’.