Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Lilia. Lilia Wonders, “What are Internet cookies?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Lilia!

When you're hungry for an after-school snack, what tempts your taste buds? Do you search the refrigerator for fresh fruits and vegetables? Or do you instead seek out a round treat made from flour, sugar, butter, and chocolate?

You know what we're talking about. Most children have a hard time ignoring the temptation of that package of chocolate chip cookies sitting on the kitchen counter. They seem to be calling your name, don't they?

Today's Wonder of the Day features a different type of cookie, though. If it had a recipe, it might go something like this: combine one computer, one Internet connection, and one Internet browser, and then mix in websites to taste. What kind of cookies does that recipe make? Internet cookies!

Have you ever noticed how you can log in to a website and then, the next time you visit that site, it logs you in automatically? If you've ever done any Internet shopping, you might have also noticed how you can put items into a shopping cart, leave the website, and return to find those items still in your cart. You can thank Internet cookies for these conveniences.

When you visit a website, the website sends an Internet cookie to your computer to be saved in a file. Internet cookies consist of information saved as text. This information can keep track of a wide variety of things, such as usernames, passwords, visits, and articles or products viewed.

Internet cookies go by various other names, such as HTTP cookies, computer cookies, web cookies, and browser cookies. The term "cookie" is actually a shortened version of the term "magic cookie," which refers to a packet of data that a computer receives and sends back without altering the data.

Websites store cookies on your computer to help keep track of your visits and online activity. Although that might sound a bit intrusive, it can be very helpful. For example, would you want to have to log in to a site you visit frequently every time you jump online? Shopping online would also be much more difficult without cookies.

Some people find cookies to be too intrusive, however. If you've ever shopped for a suitcase online, only to visit another site or check your email to see advertisements for suitcases and travel packages, then you've experienced the power of advertising and tracking networks that use cookies to track your activity across the Internet.

If you think cookies are an invasion of your privacy, every Internet browser allows you to customize your settings to limit or eliminate cookies. Be warned, though. Completely eliminating cookies can make some websites very difficult to navigate!

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is only for the bravest of our Wonder Friends!