My friends and I have some weird ideas. As all groups of friends do, I suppose. One thing we concocted years ago was doing taste tests, and finding the best X out of a group of X’s. Our first one was candy bars. I think between 4 of us, we had a dozen candy bars (this is not something to do if you’re not intent on having a serious sugar rush, and then crash), which we split up into four pieces each, and we each tried a piece of each, and then voted on our favorite, ranking them. We’ve also done potato chips, which was great, though perhaps we were all a little salt-logged afterwards.
Our most recent adventure was cookies. Now, this comes with many caveats, as there are multiple ways one could approach a cookie tasting. We are definitely the sort of people that bake cookies, but, alas, this was a last-minute cookie-off, so no time to bake. Also, there are, as you may imagine, DOZENS AND DOZENS of cookies out there. How does one choose? What does one look for? We spent a good 15 minutes in the cookie aisle debating. We started grabbing one kind of each chocolate chip cookie. But that left our Oreos, which we decided were necessary for any type of cookie tasting challenge. And then, there are about 8 or 10 different types of chocolate chip cookies: soft, not soft, big, small, ‘homemade’ style, generic. We didn’t want to spend $60 on 10 packages of cookies, not just because of the money but because of the incredible amount of sugar involved in such a purchase, and the thought of how terrible we’d feel after eating many, many, many cookies (you can’t eat just one of each, you know? You gotta try it two or three times).
After several debates, and the rest of the shoppers moving around us, wondering what the four crazy people were doing picking up cookies, putting them back, wandering off, throwing hands up in despair, and lugging around a few bottles of milk (someone only likes soy, someone only likes goat, someone only like skim, and someone only likes milk), and to avoid overspending on many things, we decided to each pick a cookie we wanted to compare, and then we selected a wild card so there were 5 different choices. We ended up with Oreos, Newman-O’s, Milano Mints, Cougar Mountain Chocolate Chips, and Keebler Chips Deluxe Rainbows (the wild card).
Armed with milk and cookies, we retreated to a comfortable and secure location to perform our test.
Now, we have never had a consensus number one choice. I guess that shouldn’t surprise anyone, what with all our different tastes and proclivities. And, based on watching NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL drafts over the years, there isn’t normally a consensus number one choice in anything. And that’s okay. We like to argue about the merits of each, to sway someone one way, or another.
We try not to have biases going in, but they’re there. My strategy was to take a bite of cookie one and move down the row to cookie five. But just a bite of each one. The next round involved dunking each cookie in milk before a bite. The third round involved finishing the cookie off in whatever manner deemed necessary. I know my compatriots pulled the Oreos apart, but I didn’t. I guess I’m weird like that.
After a good 30 minutes of relative silence amongst the group, contemplation of the placement of M&M to chocolate chip, the pliability of the Cougar Mountain (I do like a soft cookie, though discovered my friends do not….perhaps they are my former friends….), and the mint-ness of the Milano, we shared our verdicts.
We always start with worst to first. More excitement that way. My list was, worst to first:
3. Cougar Mountain
2. Milano Mints
Incredibly, everyone decided on Oreos as the best cookie. A consensus! Amazing! Everyone else had a different middle, but we all found Newman-O’s to be at the bottom. In my opinion, compared directly with an Oreo, a Newman-O just isn’t as good, for whatever reason. That’s not to say they’re not good, because, believe me, I’ve gone through a pack of Newman-O’s in a weekend like it was nothing. Not saying I’m proud, just saying it happened. But when you start really comparing, and really taking each bite as a unique experience to be judged and commented on, it gives you a different perspective on how it stacks up to something else. Instead of shoving 5 of them in your mouth at once. I mean, what cookie isn’t going to taste good when you eat a whole row right away. Exactly.
Again, we didn’t have the best test environment, and we didn’t have the largest variety, and we didn’t have specific tracking sheets to record our specific moods and thoughts about each crumb. But, we did decide that the Oreo, in this test environment, was our favorite cookie. Who would have thought?
Our next step is to do some serious baking, and to then compare our baked delicacies against Oreos. We’ll have to see how that turns out. I have my assumptions, but, who thought Oreo would be a unanimous number one? Can’t be making any assumptions about any of it.
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