This was another day that kind of took off on social media today. It’s an easy one to get behind and especially timely in the Christmas season with all the cookie swaps and other such baking pressures. Plus, who can’t get behind cookies? It’s a great day to celebrate and I cheer all those who went out of their way to make it special. As for me, I wasn’t feeling the baking bug today. I guess sometimes you feel it and sometimes you don’t. I’ve baked a lot of cookies lately. Back in October, we had National Homemade Cookie Day and I learned how to make decorative cookies at the foot of the master. I’ve made M&M cookies, Candy Corn Cookies, chocolate chip cookies. I’ve been cookied out. Plus, as I glance into the future, more baking is at hand. I just didn’t have it in me to make cookies today. Call it a lazy Sunday.
The good thing about cookies is that you don’t have to bake them anymore. They are readily available in any store. Even Dunkin’ Donuts sells fresh baked cookies now (which are actually pretty good). But if you can’t get that fresh baked taste, there are aisles of all kinds of cookies in every grocery store and mini-mart. If you want a cookie, you can get one. I was raised on store bought cookies. My grandmother made a pretty famous Tollhouse Cookie, and whenever she made them, we’d always opt for them. But if we were out of her cookies, my Mom would supplement with store bought. Oreos, Nutter Butters, Famous Amos – the works. One of my earliest favorites was the Hydrox cookie which was an Oreo knock off but tasted better to me than the Oreo (that was before Oreo started double-stuffing). It occurred to me recently that those cookies were probably named after hydrogenated oil which is not a great marketing plan. No matter, they were a fave. I also was a fan of good ol’ Chips Ahoy. I once made the grievous social blunder of telling my grandmother that I liked Chips Ahoy better than her homemade cookies. How stupid was I? I think Gram forgave me eventually, but that had to have hurt. Nonetheless, we always had some kind of store bought cookie in house for an after dinner treat.
That would be my celebration today too and I was ok with that. When you are on a 365 day quest, you have to pace yourself so taking it easy every now and then will keep me sane. Plus, enjoying a store bought cookie could be a perfect celebration and one that could bring me back to memories of my youth. The only problem was what cookie? A lot of choices here and I creepily spent a super long time in the cookie aisle trying to decide. In the end, I went with two choices. Pepperidge Farms and Fudge Stripe.
The Keebler elves work hard on a good Fudge Stripe cookie. They have to bake the shortbread and then dunk the bottom in chocolate before carefully piping out the lines of fudge on top. It’s painstaking work for an elf, so their efforts deserve appreciation. Fudge Stripe Cookies were always a favorite in our house. It’s kind of all you wanted in a cookie – crunchy cookie, lots of chocolate, but not too much. Plus they are fun looking. You can put your finger through the center hole and eat around them. You can try to eat the chocolate off the bottom. You can make glasses out of them. Hours of tasty amusement. I don’t think I’ve had one since I was little, but they are still just as tasty as I remembered. Those elves never skip a beat.
A few years ago, Lola and I went to see a movie at the Portsmouth (NH) Music Hall which is a local artsy theater in the heart of downtown Portsmouth that would show independent films from time to time. They’d also have lots of live entertainment too and that’s where we saw Idina Menzel (pre Frozen fame), Bob Newhart, Joe Piscopo and a slew of authors doing readings like Elizabeth Gilbert, Barbara Walters and Joan Didion. Yeah, we’re pretty cultured. The movie we saw was called Young@Heart, which was a documentary about a chorus of senior citizens that sings contemporary and classic rock and pop songs. It’s a great film and I highly recommend it. It really touched me and I was openly weeping throughout the whole film (which isn’t usually my style). One of the parts of the film that got me was when they featured a singer called Fred Knittle, a charming old guy with a big bass voice. When they interviewed him, he really reminded me of my Dad. There’s a slight resemblance, but there’s also the singing that was a big part of what my Dad loved and there was also the way Fred would tell a story which was reminiscent of my Dad. Enthusiastically, goofy, funny and lovable. Every time Fred was on screen, I couldn’t help thinking of my Dad. It was like a little visit from him. In any case, when they interviewed Fred, Fred being the courteous soul he is puts out a tray of cookies for the interview team to enjoy. Naturally, they are Fudge Striped Cookies. My Dad would have done that too. That’s part of what I was remembering today as I was munching on my own cookies. (You can watch a clip of Fred here).
My other choice was Pepperidge Farms cookies. A classic. I was looking at all the bags of cookies in the Farm section and they’ve really been keeping up with current trends. But the favorites were all there too. Milanos. Sausalitos. Chessman. I had a tough time making up my mind and then I remembered that they make an assortment box! This was the box my Mom would buy if there was a particular festive holiday coming, like Christmas or Easter. It gave you a sample of everything you could want. Just enough, although the Milanos and the Pirouette Rolled Wafers would always be the first to go. It was just a cookie party in a box and perfect for today.
I recalled when Pepperidge Farm cookies first started to appear on the market. There was a Pepperidge Farm store in Orange, CT which was near where one of my doctors were (an asthma specialist). Whenever we made that trip (probably like a 30 minute drive from our house), we would sojourn to the store. We were always a Pepperidge Farm bread family, so my Mom would stock up with a few loaves to tide us over. But they sold other stuff there too. That was where I first tried goldfish crackers which were a pretty novel idea at the time. That’s where we first saw the Pepperidge Farm cookies too. As a kid, they all look so good but when you try them, you are really not impressed. It’s more of an adult cookie. But the spectacle of the choices was always inspiring. You wanted to at least try them all. My mom would pick up a package every now and then which she knew we wouldn’t like so she and my Dad could enjoy them in peace. When you get older and your tastebuds come around, you start liking them more and that’s when you start buying bags of them at Cumberland Farms at 1:30 in the morning when it seems like a great idea. But no matter what, Pepperidge Farm cookies will always have that air of dignity in the cookie aisle. A little swagger in their bags. They earned it.
So that was my Cookie Day celebration. Homemade cookies are always better. There’s no doubt about that. But store bought cookies serve a great purpose too. They give us the sweet we crave without the effort. They give us choices. The give us freedom. Plus, like any good food, they give us memories too. I’m proud of how I celebrated cookie day today. A tasty tribute by any means. Now I’m going back to the cookie aisle and stare at the Mallomars for a few hours.
Next Up: National Sacher Torte Day