Imagine a seven year-old girl and her mother standing side by side, arms busy, voices shifting from a buzz to a giggle as they fill the bowl, turn on the mixer. It’s a scene out of a 1950’s TV show, right? Perhaps. But what the viewer doesn’t see is the mother’s eyes bouncing between the recipe and her own ingredients, her brain calculating how to exchange and reduce—how to healthify. The first trade: brown sugar for apple sauce; the second: crisco for butter; the third and final crime: chocolate chips for carob.
After waiting near the oven for the longest 9 minutes of her life, young Jenny follows the cookie sheet from oven to counter, hovering until the cookies are no longer hot enough to leave the little blister on the roof of her mouth. She settles into a corner nook and takes a bite. Unfortunately, her tongue is tuned and Jenny tastes failure; she turns to her mother and says words she can never take back, “Mommy, if you’re not going to use sugar, why do you make cookies?”
After the sting wore off, Sandy admitted things could not remain as they had. Her daughter had found her out and called her out; she’d have to find other ways to bring healthy snacks into the house.
Jenny recalls her mother’s recipe revisions with scorn, “She’d skimp on everything, and I wanted Crisco, sugar and real chocolate.” Not only that, but Sandy only made a dozen cookies at a time instead of the common 2-3 dozen most recipes yield. Not only did Jenny want traditional ingredients and a full batch, soon after the botched healthy cookie event she admitted to her mother that she wanted “to be Mrs. Fields when [she] grew up.” So her mom did what many moms do when their children express new interests and a clear command of a concept. For Christmas that year, Jenny received a Mrs. Fields cookbook from which she promptly began experimenting. However, after many batches, she discovered she only cared for chocolate chip cookies.
While she stuck to one kind of cookie, the Chocolate Chip Kid perfected her technique and found her ideal recipe—which wasn’t in the cookbook. In preparation for a cookie bake, Jenny would dig through the drawer for that perfect butter knife, the one with the completely flat back edge. She was “obsessed with measuring,” and she never cut corners. She remained intent upon stuffing the mouse cookie jar that’d graced her counter since she was an infant and had probably never been full before.