HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) — A baking tradition is giving a group of Kansas women an excuse to bond and keep their German heritage alive.

“Crunchy goodness and tradition. Tradition is the most important thing about peppernuts,” said Barbara Rudman.

Rudman, 75, has been making peppernuts, a small spice cookie, for decades.

“Grew up making these around the kitchen table with my daddy and momma and sister, long nights before Christmas. We would do it all evening long, and it was just a great tradition,” Rudman said.

Rudman, a few of her female cousins and a dear friend, are continuing that tradition. They meet every year around the holidays to roll, cut, and bake the sweet and oh-so-special cookies together.

“They are a tradition that our mothers got together and did, and our grandmothers did,” said Rudman’s cousin Marguerite Schmidt.

“It’s not work when we are together. It’s just fun,” Rudman continued.

“It makes a chore a joy. It makes it fun because if you do these by yourself at home, it’s a pain. It just makes it so much more fun to do it together,” said Candi Sawatzky, another one of Rudman’s cousins.

Why they do it

Making peppernuts is not an easy or quick task. The ladies usually prepare their dough the night before. Then, when they meet, it takes several hours to roll out, cut and then bake the bite-size peppernuts to perfection.

The women said they don’t mind the work. In fact, they love it because it’s a time for them to come together, a time to share stories, a time to connect with those they love.

“It seems like we all spend so much time running here and running there and arguing about this and arguing about that and just to be together and share something that we are bonded in and just love each other and care for each other, that’s our thing here,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt and her cousins hope their love for cookies and connection will inspire other families to spend time together when they can.

“Carry on your family traditions as much as you can and the stories. The stories die with you if they aren’t told,” Rudman said.

The women managed to make hundreds of cookies in their last get-together. Then, they share the sweetness by gifting the peppernuts to family and friends.

“If you get a big bag, you know you are really special. If you get a little bag, well,” laughed Sawatzky.