Off Topic, On Cookies

I am angry.

This morning, I sat blearily eating my breakfast when I saw this: an article scolding parents mothers who don't bake their own cookies to bring to the bake sales. Apparently it's offensive that some of us are stopping at the convenience store to buy oreos after packing everyone's lunches, before going to the winter festival (drop off bake sale offerings at 8:20 a.m. please!) which will make us late for work, at which we will then have to stay after hours, to get home and frantically help with homework, make dinner, get to bed before doing it all the next day.

But don't you realize you could have made rice crispie treats in that time? Sure! It would have been super-easy! All you would have to do is buy the ingredients in time, mix it up, press it down, and wash all the dishes. What's time-consuming about that?

Why does this make me so freaking angry that I am writing about it on my blog, which has absolutely nothing to do with any of these subjects? (Maybe school is where you read books, and also have bake sales, and so…nah.) One of the  powerful memories I have as a new parent at our local school was when the PTA president stood before us and said, "We need your help! We need the money from those bake sales, and if all you can do is buy a box of Entenmann's, go ahead! We love Mrs. Entenmann, she's raised a lot of money for us over the years."

See, it takes courage to bring in the Entenmann's box. We know that the person bringing in the individually wrapped homemade peanut brittle is looking askance at us, but guess what? As the wise and overworked PTA president knew, the whole POINT of a bake sale is to raise money for the school, schools which are currently suffering from ridiculous budget cuts. And if the overworked, stressed out parents manage to help by buying a box of cookies, that is a good thing. We lost our Spanish class. We lost our art supplies. We are losing too much, and that's why we have bake sales, not to titillate the taste buds of discriminating parents.

The piece also infuriatingly notes that this reluctance to bake is particularly surprising given that "We stick up our noses at out-of-season blackberries, and compete over the brands of our stoves and dishwashers." Um, I don't know who does this, except for some fictionalized, imaginary New York Times reader (maybe there's how it connects to children's literature), who actually embodies the sometimes ridiculous ethos espoused in its home and dining sections. What the rest of us do (besides stopping off on the way to school to buy a bag of Chips Ahoy) is skip the blackberries because they're too expensive and they go bad really fast in our broken but not broken enough to buy a new one refrigerator, the brand of which we have no control over because it came with the house.

I went on the site to declaim angrily, but there appears to be no way to leave comments, or it is still way too early and I am missing something obvious. So you fine people are hearing about it, for which I apologize.

But come on, New York Times. Why so scolding and out of touch? Why are you printing articles that seem to be slated for the paper's 1954 edition?

And I love the stupid New York Times! I get home delivery of its plaintive printed edition! I tote it around with me! And not only that, but I bake—all the time. Almost compulsively. But this article? Has me wanting to defiantly close my oven for good.

Entenmann's forever!

20 thoughts on “Off Topic, On Cookies

  1. I heartily concur. I used to have more time and money to contribute to every little holiday party/bake sale/special event. But guess what? Now I’m a divorced parent with 4 part-time jobs, and I put enough guilt on MYSELF for having to forego the homemade cupcakes. The NYT (also my primary news source) and (sometimes) – the other parents – would be well served to adjust their point of view on this matter.
    *steps off soapbox*

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  2. The NYT may be a good source of news, but they run an absurd amount of mommy-scolding. Of course, my system won’t let parents bring in homemade treats, because of concerns about allergies.

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  3. you had time to write this posting.. and pay for the internet to upload. you have time to bake. and buy food.
    enough said.
    same goes with the endless tweets from @ayeletw
    if you have time to tweet. you have time to bake, cook, shop, spend, work, etc.
    get offline. go outside. live a little.

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  4. Kaethe said above, “The NYT may be a good source of news, but they run an absurd amount of mommy-scolding.”
    I just wanted to repeat that, because it’s basically what I was going to say. We should all ignore everything the NYT says about lifestyle type issues, because…. well, ick – that is not a world I want to live in.

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  5. I just wish we women could give each other a break. I think everyone agrees that, all things being equal, homemade baked goods are better (although I have baked — and eaten — my share of homemade raw-in-the-middle banana bread and flat, burned-on-the-edges chocolate chip cookies), but I think we have to assume that we’re all doing the best that we can. And also, remember that the author of this judgmental piece wrote it to create controversy and outrage, so as to increase her own readership.

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  6. I don’t know, the story pissed me off but I am hesitant to be so hard on her. Her editor should have seen the problem. And maybe she just was thinking in her own head for a bit, and she just really, really, really wanted a great cookie. It happens, you know?
    In fact, it’s happening to me right now.

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  7. There’s a link to a blogger conversation about the article; many of those people make a lot more sense, especially the ones who say we should do away with the bake sale altogether. They don’t raise a lot of money and the price of the goods often doesn’t even add up to the cost of the ingredients, never mind the time spent.
    I love to bake, and I love to share what I bake. What I don’t like is feeling obligated or guilted into doing so, nor do I enjoy having someone judge someone else for bringing in ‘sub-par’ items (this also used to happen, btw, when everyone baked, only you got judged on how bad your cookies looked or tasted). I’d rather write a check, quite frankly, and save the baking for the people in my life who truly deserve and appreciate it.

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  8. I think there is still, also, a hold-over from the 80s “superwoman” ideal, that a woman should be able to hold a job, raise kids, keep an immaculate house, have everything wonderfully decorated… bake bread from scratch, and keep herself beautiful.
    Think again. Its impossible.

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  9. @The Diamond… I actually said “SKILLS” out loud when I read your response to Rene Schapiro. I mean, peaking of “mommy scolding”, man oh man. Let’s not get all Motherlode on these comments.

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  10. the person bringing in the individually wrapped homemade peanut brittle is not necessarily by definition looking askance at you………just sayin’

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  11. True, true, Jen L. Just speaking from a painful memory, but it was one person, one batch of brittle. No doubt there are many generous peanut-brittle-making souls out there, of which you are no doubt one. And heaven knows I don’t want to reduce the amount of homemade brittle in the world, because I love that stuff.

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  12. Our school is also on a “no homemade baked goods” policy because of food allergy issues, and I am soooo glad. Because that’s what they’d be getting anyway. At least this way there’s one less thing to feel guilty about.

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  13. I’m a professional pastry chef , and I say to hell with those who diss bringing store-bought. And reneshapiro’s food probably tastes as bitter as her words. Those of us who bake for a living as well as pleasure know that one’s soul goes into the work.
    P.S. I adore Oreos and Enteman’s Crumbcake

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  14. I thought I commented on this, but apparently I didn’t. I love the NY Times’ regular news reporting, and their “whimsical” articles, but they also specialize in a sort of rich-person-helicopter-mom-Gwyneth Paltrow-like lifestyle article that never fails to make me tear my hear out in seething rage. I always think of these articles as a sop to their Upper East Side rich-folk readership. This article being a prime example. Shut UP, New York Times! And rock on with your Entenmann’s-bearing self, Diamond.

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