Every Wednesday for the last eight semesters, I sat in class daydreaming about the cookies. Would tonight’s cookies be chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, sugar or oatmeal? Visions of the hot plates of these baked goods rose in my mind as I pretended to stare at the board. The equations turned into recipes — 1 cup flour plus 2 cups sugar plus 3 cups love equals the best cookies you have ever had.
These cookies were part of a tradition in my sorority called Cookie Wednesday. Every Wednesday at 9 p.m. sharp, our house mother, the woman who oversees chapter staff and operations, would kindly bake hundreds of cookies for our rabid consumption — truly, she had no choice because we demanded those cookies under the threat of complete anarchy.
As a sophomore, I would try to fight the urge to indulge in the Cookie Wednesday ritual. Often, I was on diets that would require me to refuse the temptation of those warm, homemade saucers of joy. When visions of cookies came into my mind I would swat them away, reject them angrily. How dare they test my willpower!
But come on, who was I kidding! Presented with platters of perfectly proportioned, decadently delicious cookies, dieting or not, I could not just walk away. I could never “just eat an apple instead,” as my mom had suggested so many times before.
It was not until my senior year that I started to bask in the glory of my hard-earned Cookie Wednesdays. Through countless hours of counseling I had moved on from the notion that dieting would lead to anything but disappointment. I stopped labeling foods as “good” or “bad” — something I had been doing constantly. I stopped resisting my desire to eat cookies because it was a waste of my energy. I had come to accept and love the cookie monster that I was.
So Wednesday evenings during fall of my senior year, after spending several long hours in the library, I would return home feeling defeated and frustrated — I was cursing the name of my “Quantifying Aspects of Global Environmental Climate Change” professor who incessantly assigned grueling problem sets. But I knew that when I entered my sorority house I would be greeted by the warm scent of fresh-baked cookies.
Resting on the kitchen table would be two trays of the most gooey, delightful chocolate chip cookies that you have ever seen — a true masterpiece! Surrounding the table would be a swarm of eager sorority women — most of who were waiting to join me in drowning their own problem-set sorrows under a mountain of cookies.
Those cookies had become my Wednesday night savior and, without fail, I always found myself at the center of the Cookie Wednesday chaos. Upon getting the go-ahead from our house mom, any semblance of a line would instantly dissolve. The table would become swarmed from all angles — there were so many people grasping for cookies that it took extreme focus to ensure you were not accidentally trying to walk away with another girl’s hand instead of a cookie.
Out of the chaos I would emerge with six cookies in my right hand and a tall glass of milk in my left. Darting up to my room to enjoy my winnings, I typically ate my first cookie before even reaching my destination. 10 minutes later I would find myself in a haze, my belly rigid, filled to the brim with baked goods. My shirt covered in crumbs, proof that indeed, I did just devour six cookies. The glass of milk would sit empty on my desk, filled oh-so-slightly with the soggy crumbs of dunked cookies.
In these rushes for Wednesday night cookies, you would never have been able to guess that I used to be a girl who was concerned about her cookie consumption. In my senior year, my old intention to avoid the devilish treats was but a memory. A cookie coma was always my fate on Wednesday evenings — I was never destined to be the girl who chose the apple.
As a sophomore, I adamantly thought that cookies were a bad food — I more often begrudgingly opted for the apple. I spiraled out of control thinking about those Wednesday nights when I would have to walk by the cookie table, enviously watching all of the skinny girls freely eating as many cookies as they wanted. Cookie Wednesday was not a pleasant tradition — it was filled with temptation and, often, when I could not resist the comfort of home-baked cookies, regret.
But when I had finally come to embrace my crumb-filled fate as a senior, my Cookie Wednesday no longer ended with self-loathing or disappointment, as it had so many times before. Lying in my bed, succumbing to the fact that I would not be moving for a while, I savored my satisfied state, basking in the glory of a hard-earned food coma. There was no more overthinking, dieting or apple substitutes — just the deep satisfaction that comes from the feeling of a full belly and a sugar high.
Jessica Redden writes the Monday column on finding freedom from overconsumption.