Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Cookie Taster Wanted: Apply Within
I've dreamed about a lot of dream jobs in my life. For example, I always wanted to be a professional composer, but once I became one, I couldn't help but think it would be more impressive to be a captain of industry. I have also thought it would be fun to earn a living coming up with pleasant names for ugly-sounding new drugs, transforming something like clopidogrel into Plavix. Or better yet, to be the guy who comes up with those punny baseball headlines on the back pages of the New York Post or the Daily News: things like STRAY-ROD, or BERTH DAY, or MELK MONEY, or HENN LAYS EGG. Of course, I have long thought that nothing could be better than being a food writer. But I recently met someone who put all those crazy dreams in a new light.
I met a cookie taster.
I was at a Christmas party, chatting with a young woman who had immigrated from India a few years ago. She mentioned that she lives in Connecticut and works for the Pepperidge Farm company. "I'm in cookies," she said.
"Pepperidge Farm remembers," I said in that rich, nougaty voice from the old TV advertisements.
"Everyone says that when I tell them where I work," she replied, "but I don't even know that ad, because I didn't grow up here."Turns out that being "in cookies," means she actually tastes cookies for a living, testing their flavors, textures and other qualities. Could there possibly be a better job than that? She admits to gaining a few pounds since taking this position, although not too much because, as with wine, the protocol is to spit out the cookie once the taste presents itself.
"So the next time I bite into a Milano cookie," I said, "I will have you to thank for its subtle hint of vanilla and delicate chocolate center?"
"Milanos are my favorite!" she gushed.
Trying to be funny, I said, "I imagine there's a competitive divide between the cookie folks and the bread folks. It must be tense in the Pepperidge Farm lunchroom."
"As a matter of fact, there is a real split in the personnel. Bread people are another species altogether."
"Well, you know how elves can be. So much backbiting."
"No, that's Keebler," she said.
Even though she was right, of course, I still considered making another joke about living in a big tree, or about green felt. But frankly, her appearance happened to be quite elfin, so I didn't dare draw any more attention to the topic.