How The Cookie Crumbles


Cookies aren’t going away anytime soon since they are firmly baked into our culture. According to one food historian, “[They] mean mother, and milk, and tea.”
Every first lady from Martha Washington to Laura Bush has made her own cookie recipe available. This year, Bush’s Texas Governor’s Mansion Cowboy Cookies, featuring chocolate and cherries, is up against Teresa Heinz Kerry’s spiced pumpkin cookie.
I read about sixth graders in Brooklyn who snacked on whole wheat pretzels, fruit smoothies, and baked potato chips, marking their reactions on a survey. Not a regular snack time, it was part of a taste test in hopes to lure students away from eating cookies.
The students proclaimed things like “I’d pick a strawberry smoothie instead of a cookie,” “Cookies are boring,” and “Cookies are for babies.”
In fact, cookie sales declined for the third consecutive year. Parents may be worried about fats and carbs. Kraft, the maker of Oreos, pulled The Oreo Cookie Counting Book, which teaches kids to count based on the number of Oreos they eat, from schools as part of an effort to fight obesity.
Although snacks are steadily replacing sit down meals, according to a Wall Street Journal story this summer, “the cookie occupies an uncomfortable middle ground.” This could be due to a decline in baking, which is a partial result of microwaves and other shortcuts in the kitchen.
The cookie industry is responding with things like Oreo Barz and the new Vanilla Oreo. Kraft added 20 percent more chips to Chewy Chips Ahoy! cookies. They also tried to boost publicity for Oreos by playing on methods of eating them.
An online survey of more than 2,000 Oreo eaters concluded that “Dunkers,” people who dunk their Oreos in milk, tend to be Republicans and prefer to vacation in the Caribbean. “Twisters,” people who eat the filling first, love animals and cry at drama movies. “Biters,” who eat an Oreo as they would any other cookie, tend to drive minivans, vacation in the United States and are ”’totally predictable,” according to Kraft’s survey.
When I have to eat Oreos, I fall into that last, boring category. At our house, we have one devout Oreo fan who, of late, keeps a tin of the sandwich cookies in her bedroom. They don’t belong with my cup of tea, although, I’ve always wanted to suggest to Kraft that they market the chocolate cookies (the part I like) minus the rich, sweet filling.
Give me a homemade variety any day like the chewy maple-walnut drops Mark brought home from the bakery in our local supermarket (just as good as homemade).
However the cookie crumbles, it’s a beloved food with comfort quality. Be a smart cookie, start baking now, and freeze cookies for the holidays, or bake a batch for Halloween.


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