First of a 5-part series as a model for student work.
American Original Sin: Our Obsession with Sweetness
Claiming the Cookie
26 March 2020
I know, I know. It’s just a big pan version of chocolate chip cookie, it just happens to be in a round shape, and it just happens to be sliced like a pizza. I think it’s the slicing that cements the verdict: the pizza cookie is not a cookie. It’s a violation of the definition of chocolate chip cookie.
Again, I hear your argument: How could the shape or slicing of a cookie change its identity? (And, please, let’s not get into all the “Is a hot dog a sandwich?” or “Is cereal soup?” questions. We know the answer. We just do.) I think it was Supreme Court Justice Stewart who described the obscenity of porn this way:
I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it. . . . (Hudson)
WIll all others know the same thing I know when they see the pizza cookie? Perhaps not. But they will be wrong.
The “Pizza Cookie”
To be clear, I am referring to Pizza Hut’s obscenity, the Ultimate Hershey’s Chocolate Chip Cookie. It, as does Papa John’s own version, definitely has most of the required elements of the iconic chocolate chip cookie for America: chocolate chips (Hershey’s, no less), butter, flour, sugar, and real eggs, all fresh baked (“Review”). I will even concede that, unlike its close cousin, the cookie brownie, it is baked as a round shape, like any decent cookie should be. There are numerous imitators, as well, and one can find versions of this bastardization on recipe websites everywhere. I also concede that it is delicious, a dessert largely worthy of the American cultural enterprise.*
“Thou shalt not taint the American cookie. “
I will concede, even, that this dessert strikes closer to the definition of chocolate chip cookie than the (“Wrong Wrong Wrong!”) Crookie, which is a wafer-like cookie wrapped into the shape of a croissant or the abysmal skillet-made cookie sundae (“The Crookie”). These fail in shape and ingredients as well as cut or eating technique required. No, I’m a purist. And the definition of cookie lies not only in the appearance and substance of the cookie, but in its delivery and consumption.
Thus, the cut of the cookie into a shape which violates its simple and wholesome circular quality de-centers our thinking about what we are eating. Cut a thick cookie into squares? It’s a brownie. Cut it into triangles from the center point? It’s a pizza (though such a definition must wait a future essay).
Photograph by DudeFoods.com
The chocolate chip cookie demands of its definition a sense of tradition, of the familiar, of age. As something which harkens back to simpler times, the greatness of America. There is nothing complicated or innovative about tradition; and thus the cookie requires nothing more than a few ingredients, expertly crafted, dolloped onto a simple baking sheet. Thou shalt not taint the American cookie.
And then shall it be eaten, whole and simply, as single entity. It is the teeth, not the knife, which shalt plunge into the melted chocolate and steaming dough. The taking of the cookie is the embrace of pure America.
*I wish to acknowledge at this time that in no way do I disparage or undermine the sinful and delightful nature of these products. They are every bit–more so–the decadence we have accustomed ourselves to as Euro-Americans seeking chocolate. If the motto for better dessert is “Most is Better,” then these cookies definitely fulfill the “‘Merica!” dessert fever dream.
Chisnell, Steve. Pizza Hut Cookie Review. Waterford, MI, 1 March 2020.
Horovitz, Bruce. “Pizza Hut to Roll out ‘Pizza Cookie.’” USA TODAY,
“Jacobellis v. Ohio.” The First Amendment Encyclopedia,
www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/392/jacobellis-v-ohio. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.
“Review: Pizza Hut – Ultimate Hershey’s Chocolate Chip Cookie.” Brand Eating,
“The Crookie – The Half Croissant / Half Cookie Hybrid.” DudeFoods.com – Food Recipes &
Videos, 19 Jan. 2015, dudefoods.com/the-crookie-half-croissant-half-cookie-hybrid/.