There was nothing to indicate how sinister the turn of events would be. It was a normal store. A lovely little shop, a nice reminder of the days when there wasn’t too much variety in the shops. The shelves were not integrated modular retail solutions provided by an integrated modular retail solutions provider. They were just bookshelves. I was in the mood for cookies.
They had three types of cookies. One normal, two chocolate. Given the year that we have been and that it was Monday, it was going to be chocolate. One package had a suspicious green tint. I checked in case it was a stealth situation. (Mint flavors are fine if it’s on purpose, but you don’t want to be surprised by the mint.) “Taste of plum pudding,” the wrapper said. It was a lucky escape. I chose the other. The color scheme of him looked normal and chocolatey. I didn’t read the label. You can hear the doom music starting as you read this.
I took them home. Like the first few days of a relationship, those first cupcakes are exciting. You can’t wait to get your hands on them. The package was opened with abandon. I ate the first cookie I ate in the field with the first few bites immediately followed by a sip of tea in my mouth while chewing the cookie.
They tasted bad. I tried another. Still off. Three, four, five cookies. No change. I trusted cookies more than I trust my own sense of taste, so I was ready to book a PCR.
For the first time, I looked at the package correctly. They tasted like minced cake. EFFING Pie minced meat. On a chocolate cookie.
I don’t want to criticize the people who made them. We all sell food that we are not proud of. I once spent an afternoon cleaning the soot from the smoke-damaged bottles of My expired Wadi. But we love those things in Cork. And just because we can do something, it doesn’t mean we should.
It is part of the overwhelming effort to mark EVERYTHING to make it more Christmassy. But chocolate chip cookies don’t have to be ‘festive’ or ‘seasonal’. It’s like making Santa put on a Christmas jumper. He is Santa. He doesn’t need an extra Fabrique XXL in Vietnam with bells.
Some combos don’t make sense. Our dishwasher tablets have been labeled seasonal since October, so our guts and sea can feel festive with the chemicals. Many cleaning products have a Christmas scent. Christmas must smell like cleaning products, Jeyes liquid and bleach. But not filler flavored bleach. That combination could smell like the aftermath of a restaurant incident involving a child who ate too much good food.
It’s not just about the holiday celebration, but also about the need to combine two popular things into a strange or haunting hybrid that plays with nature. Tayto and Dairymilk (never forget), pens with digital clocks, Boyzlife. We love different things for different reasons. You wouldn’t combine Joy Division with Joe Dolan. I think they were both great, but I wouldn’t have wanted Mullingar to move his hips to the beat of Love Will Tear Us Apart.
All this is happening while the true meaning of Christmas is lost, learning to live as a family. You see it in the way that unpopular chocolates have been removed from beloved collections. Coffee Cremes is the scapegoat. They had their place. Some people loved them. But the candy box unions crushed by the neoliberal tyranny of majority rule.
Coffee Cremes is what family is all about. There are some that you don’t like very much, but we support each other and often when there is no one left you trust them to get through the first days of January.
Merry Christmas. Enjoy your chocolate chip cookies and mince pies responsibly. Separately.