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How a 'Martian droppings' cookie got its out-of-this-world name

Allison Stines holds a photo of her family while she eats a family-favorite cookie: Martian droppings.
Allison Stines
Collage by NPR
Allison Stines holds a photo of her family while she eats a family-favorite cookie: Martian droppings.

All Things We're Cooking is a series featuring family recipes from you, our readers and listeners, and the special stories behind them. We'll continue to share more of your kitchen gems throughout the holidays.


Growing up in Louisville, Ky., Allison Stines loved Christmas Eve. It was the day when all of her extended family would come to town and gather for a massive dinner party that her mom hosted. Her mom would make tons of food and cookies, including divinity, forgotten cookies, no-bake cookies and Martian droppings.

The Martian droppings got their unique name from one of Stines' older brothers, who associated the color from the Jell-O pudding mix with the fictional inhabitants of the planet Mars.

"We would get pistachio pudding, and it becomes bright green, kind of like Martians," Stines said. "You know, basically they're Martian poop ... but we call them droppings because that sounds a little bit better than calling them Martian poop."

Despite the name, Stines promises these are quirky, delicious pudding cookies — a family favorite that she holds close to her heart today.

"They just remind me so much of home and being young and just able to spend time with your family," said Stines, who still lives in Louisville. "Now that we've gotten older, you know my siblings have all moved away except for my sister. And then my mom, she passed away in 2015."

Stines said she has tried to carry on her mom's cookie-making extravaganza.

"It's just something special. I think after my mom passed away ... these traditions mean so much more to me than they used to," she said.

Today, Stines' children get excited when they see her pull out the Bisquick and the pistachio pudding mix, she said. The appreciation for Martian droppings has also reached beyond her family. Both her and her husband's co-workers all love the cookies, and they've become a staple at the family's holiday drive-by.

Stines and her family load up their house with lots of lights and approximately 40 inflatable lawn decorations before telling her friends to come by.

"We pass out cookies ... my mom's famous Christmas cookies and other things that she would make," Stines said. "But everybody is always like, where are those Martian droppings?"


  • 1 3.4 ounce package of pistachio-flavor instant pudding (Jell-O brand preferred)
  • 1 cup all-purpose biscuit mix (Bisquick preferred)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of water if needed (adjust amount if needed)


Mix dry ingredients. Add oil, egg and water (if needed). Mix well.

Drop by small cookie scoop onto a cookie sheet 2 inches apart.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes, checking on the cookies often. Enjoy!

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Wynne Davis is a digital reporter and producer for NPR's All Things Considered.

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